How The Textile Industry Is Surviving Their Businesses Post Covid
Staying Authentic to yourself, the community and businesses we operate, has never felt so necessary , as it did during the last 2 years.
Photo Credit : Umesh Goswami,
The Indian textiles and apparel industry has contributed 2.3 percent to the GDP of India, 13 percent to industrial production, and 12 percent to export earnings. This 2nd biggest industry in India after agriculture, has taken a massive hit during the COVID 19 phase along with many or most of the other industry verticals.
While reflecting on the last two years, I always say, “As entrepreneurs, we signed up for risks, but none of us were prepared for a pandemic as ubiquitous and monstrous as this, to hit us personally and/or professionally.” Having said that, I share this quote by Elizabeth Edwards with you. One that I replay in my head on the low and confusing days, words which gave a direction and which helped me sail through these unpredictable times “She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.”
Exactly what most of the businesses in the textile industry have adapted to and evolved from there. Here are few of the top hard and soft aspects of operating which helped most businesses in the textile category, survive, sustain and to move forward and upward :
Innovate - “Necessity is the mother of invention” never did this feel as true as it did in these last two years. The unceasing months of uncertainty, when we were pushed against the wall, long and hard and being creative and relevant in doing business was then the only option left with most. This worked as a game-changer for many businesses which managed to survive. It’s when you are left with no option, that the creative mind identifies the relevance in the challenging times and overworks to innovate. In case of the textile industry, understanding the shift in consumer behaviour and their emotions, creating a product mix based on that, was the need of the hour. The more innovation a business managed and at the right time the better impact this had on the business and thereby on their consumers.
Digital Revamp – Being in a lockdown, subtly shifted a huge chunk of offline “ touch and feel” kind of consumers to shopping online because of the obvious perspective attached. “Going digital” seemed to be a comfortable and safe option, which led to a gradual transition of this segment of customers from offline to online. Businesses who sensed this at the right time, investing time, energy, and money to make this online customer navigation and after-sale experience seamless, gaining their confidence, earned brand loyalists for life. Simultaneously brands /businesses without any online presence who worked towards developing and growing the same also benefited. The last year has seen a massive digital acceleration and the recovery has been possible with effort towards stronger, greater, and more inclusive digitalization of textile businesses in India.
Plan Inventory - The uncertainty of the pandemic, forced businesses to stay more focussed on mindful production, leading to less waste, which in a way contributed to a conscious fashion way of functioning while also taking care of less commercial wastage. An enormous challenge in the textile industry is their, ‘deadstock’ and not managing it responsibly leads to an immense carbon footprint harming the environment in the process. So, more and more textile businesses started getting conscious of mindful inventory management for commercial benefits which secured their survival; hoping they continue to stay sentient to this going forward, both from the business and the environmental perspective.
Employee Empathy - COVID 19 times were confusing and uncertain, which is an understatement. In all this time, textile businesses who stayed connected with their employees have benefited during the post COVID, ‘bounce back’ phase.
While this is true for all industries, it has been even more relevant for the textile business because a vast portion of their work gets done by skilled workers who have inherited their talents. Along with the regular office staff: designers, admin, and others, the production staff is divided between the weavers and artisans who work on the base raw materials and the “karigars” who then transform them into designs. These are the core skill-based resources and their livelihood depends on the businesses they work for. Staying in touch with them and ensuring their mental, emotional, physical, and financial well-being during this time was paramount and very critical. Once back to business with these already trained and now, more motivated staff, was quite sustainable and effective for these businesses compared to those who were re-hiring and training new ones.
Customer Connect – Businesses who invested this time to stay connected with their existing customers, benefitted by further evolving their customers to communities who believed in the authenticity of the business and experienced a sense of belonging towards them. Understanding and agreeing to the value systems and ethos of the businesses proved even more relevant for the textile business as it is a very personal consumption product. This further helped understand the target audience to be able to create more relevant product(say solution)mix, once the opening up started post-COVID. Staying in touch with your customers and working as a team towards providing solutions rather than just products ,proved itself to be the mantra to be able to survive and evolve from there.
Conscious/Sustainable Behaviour – Being mindful and minimalistic translated as a habit for most of us during the Pandemic which further seeped into all aspects of our lives, including fashion. The textile businesses that invested in achieving a sustainability goal by staying conscious in the business journey benefitted from this consumer behavioural shift. The concept content towards educating and embracing responsible slow fashion, by committing to quality over quantity, and staying empathetic in the process, like knowing the people who made your clothes, etc. was a time-consuming and slow process which then paced up automatically because of this paradigm shift. Individuals evolved towards this direction which triggered a positive growth of sustainable businesses considerably.
Community - Like-minded business owners community connect. This was the time to connect, learn from each other’s coping mechanisms and grow together for a bigger goal as a community that each business wishes to achieve. Empathy in every aspect of life played a very positive role in transforming the way we lead our life and businesses. Networking, cross-pollination of ideas and solutions helped us survive through the tough times and bounce back stronger as this newer evolved community. We have seen a lot of meaningful collaborations within the textile industry mushroom out of these communities, where each associate has nurtured their strengths to amplify a common message they wish to bring forward, also adding credibility to the businesses. “Collaboration over Competition”, is the way to survive going forward . The market has been good enough and sufficient for everyone to operate, let’s keep it grounded and authentic for survival and growth.
Takeaway: Staying Authentic to yourself, the community and businesses we operate, has never felt so necessary , as it did during the last 2 years . Let us not forget the lessons learnt, rather use them as our strength to evolve our businesses successfully to an elevated level.
Data: After being hit hard by COVID-19, India's textile industry is well on the road to recovery.
Here are some findings of the report titled “ 'Textile Industry: Trends and Prospects' released by Infomerics Valuation and Rating Pvt Ltd., a SEBI-registered and RBI-accredited financial services credit rating company.
· During the pandemic, the domestic textiles and apparels industry slumped to $75 billion after peaking at $106 billion in FY2020.
· However, government initiatives to bolster the sector have raised hopes of the sector growing to $300 billion by 2025-26, a growth of 300 per cent in the next 2 years.
· There has been a remarkable turnaround in technical textiles. In terms of value, technical textiles imports exceeded exports by Rs 1,058 crore in FY20 while in FY21 exports exceeded imports by Rs 2,998 crore. These are some major findings of a report titled
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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