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Akhil Jain: India's knitwear exports are growing faster

May 01, 2021
Akhil Jain: India

Technically, knitted apparels have a higher value addition and a better fit compared to cut and sew apparel. In this interview, Akhil Jain, Executive Director, Madame, shares details about the evolving knitwear market and how innovation is key for success.


Your company is known for its fashion brand Madame. What is driving the demand for your knitted apparels?

Madame’s range of knitwear caters to categories of clothing like T/Shirts and Tops in summers to pullovers and cardigans in winters. This range accounts for 35% of the annual demand. Madame is a brand that focuses on fashion and upcoming trends. With every new season, a new collection and category are introduced. Yet the demand for knitwear has always been stable for Madame. Despite the pandemic, casuals and night suits witnessed similar consumer demands for styles which fall under the knitwear category. Nowadays Knitwear is being considered to be more appealing and attractive as compared to earlier times.


The demand for knitwear is also emerging from online platforms and on organized retail chains. Especially during the pandemic, the need of comfort increased over fashion. Therefore, factors such as competitive pricing, affordability, and simple classic design make a huge impact. An upcoming demand for slogan T-shirts among the consumers is a welcome shift for knitwear garments. To survive in the market, introducing & innovating new designs regularly is the need of the hour for all brands. The knitwear segment is a small but rapidly growing segment in the fashion industry. Knitwear is high in demand, particularly where the climate is cold and India has considerable states and cities where the consumer demand for knitted apparel is significant.

In terms of new technology and machinery needed to make knitted apparels, how is your company gearing up?

We have a base of over 60 CAD enabled Flat Knitting Machines from Japan and Germany which produce top quality products in terms of design and techniques both. As a company we have a knack to upgrade technology as and when available. Next in the pipeline, is full-fashion in seamless products. Globally there is an upward trend for eco-friendly fabrics and recycled clothing. The overall market is expected to grow every year.


More brands are investing in technologies that enhance the creative aspects such as digital prints and tailored athleisure. Fancy and special yarns are introduced to make knitwear look premium. Another upcoming advancement is the range of seamless knitted technologies. Sophisticated graphic patterns, odour resistance, and regulating temperatures are emerging trends that are advancing in knitted fabrics. The use of upgraded technology helps in eliminating the cutting and sewing processes. Additionally, it also helps in saving time and reduces production costs. Sustainable measures introduced by brands also focus on waste reduction through the advanced use of machines and innovative design strategies.


How can India enhance its exports potential in the knitwear industry?

Tech fabrics or performance fabrics are an upcoming choice that many manufacturers are considering. It involves adapting to a functional or performance-based property using microfabrics. There is immense scope for the knitwear industry in India. India's knitwear export amounts to almost 45% of the total apparel exports, which is quite decent. Some factors that can definitely improvise the industry are the availability of advanced machinery and technology that can suffice the need for high-quality knitwear exports out of India. Currently, Bangladesh and China dominate the market with production capacities that match global demand.


The government has introduced several technologically innovative incentives to achieve international quality. Government extends supports through schemes like cluster development, subsidies, tax relief, etc. The Indian export landscape for knitwear is growing faster. Styling, pricing, and innovation have helped the industry to change the landscape. International brands are also choosing India as a market that has the potential to grow. However, in India, the increasing process of cotton and yarn has been a concern for exporters. Global brands are ushering in cheaper pricing strategies that have drawn the attention of consumers.


As a company, Madame always strive to expand and grow. We are closely monitoring the demand & supply for knitwear locally and globally.  Also considering the current changes due to pandemic, we are analysing a window of opportunity for us to explore.