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Viscose garments exported from India have shown a growth of 27% in the last 2 years: Manohar Samuel

In an exclusive conversation with Manohar Samuel, President – Marketing in Birla Cellulose, the Pulp and Fibre Business of The Aditya Birla Group highlights the growing trend of sustainable fashion.

Tags: eco, friendly, ABRL, Birla Cellulos, Liva

BY Shipra Srivastava  |  April 06, 2017  |  comments ( 0 )  | 

Manohar Samuel

India inc is known for inventing fabrics like Khadi (made from natural products). So, reasons on how the concept of sustainable fashion / eco fashion is new to India?

Khadi is an Indian invention that uses natural raw material, makes handspun yarn, weaves handwoven fabrics in handlooms, thereby making it innovative in every sense. Sustainable fashion is about having merchandise that do not deplete natural resources, have natural ingredients as raw materials, go through efficient and friendly operational processes and get easily absorbed back into nature at the end of its life cycle.

Ecofashion, is a commonly used term for fashionable clothing, designed aesthetically using sustainable raw materials and processes and is in trend. India Inc is gearing up for ecofashionable clothing in viscose garments as we also support this by aligning with leading global brands and agencies.

Will the merchandise made from eco friendly fabrics be pocket friendly? How many stores in India will have this line?

We recently had a discussion with designers at the Amazon India Fashion Week for the same point raised. We are currently formulating a strategy and aligning thoughts from consumers, designers and brand insight consultants to guide us further.

Ecofriendly fabrics that are made in pwerloom do not cost much but those in handloom bring in uniqueness and are operationally challenging which makes them costlier.

We opened a Fabric Kiosk in 7 centres including Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Surat and Kolkata where designers can take the ready to finish fabric, style it according to their choice of colour design, etc and give us a feedback. It is turning out to be good for us; we are receiving a lot of response from all centres, particularly Kolkatta who have expressed that they like to work with Liva handloom fabrics. My team is taking it forward; we have already visited the handlooms centre and are hopeful to collaborate with few designers too for the same.

What is the USP of such merchandise? Kindly highlight their durability aspect?

The USP of the Liva handloom merchandise is clearly its unique look, feel and comfort to wear. The unmatched comfort is truly amazing for handspun and woven fabrics. Durability is not an issue for Liva developments as we have what is called as LIVA quality standards which are strictly followed. All the fabrics produced by us will have to pass the test otherwise it won’t be certified as LIVA. Our LIVA Crème handloom fabric is absolutely fresh and stays fresh even after 20 washes as compared to any others.

What would be the TG for such merchandise?

Our target audience is a premium, sustainability conscious, and fashion driven consumer who likes fluid garments that are comfortable.

How many leading fashion designers in India are using Liva in their designs?

As of today, about 12 fashion designers are working on Liva fabrics and they have created fantastic garments and we are constantly growing. We have learnt that by providing designers with smaller quantity, ready-to-dye and ready-to-print fabrics, we save them time consuming procedures and also leverage their creativity in designing with colours, prints, handfeel of their choice. This is the key aspect which will help us grow more rapidly this year. We are looking to have around 30-35 designers in total working with us by year end.

Will sustainable line be sourced to international market?

We work closely with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition; in fact their Annual Summit is happening in India for the first time from May 24th, 25th & 26th2017. SAC is leading a concept for the consumer called “The Higg Index”, which is the formal standard for assessing sustainability in apparels. The Sustainable Approach Coalition is based in San Francisco. Many leading brands are present and we work very closely with them on The Higg Index. We also work with them for material sustainability index, design development Module and traceability. We hope to also get domestic brands activated for the Higg Index for which Madura fashion and Lifestyle has taken the lead.

Kindly highlight the growth plans for sustainable fashion category.

Our main focus is on the global brands wanting to work with sustainable fabics. For that, our SpunDyed Viscose has been appreciated for supporting sustainability through the life cycle; it is a fibre, coloured using pigments, saves water, chemicals, auxiliaries and reduces effluent treatment.

Many brands use this product in their clothing and have improved sustainability scores. We have the prestigious plan A recognition from M&S, UK for Spundyed VSF.

We are working with the concept of getting brands aligned for a FSC certified viscose which is called as sustainable viscose. Our Liva Accredeted Partner Forum-LAPF supplies fabrics that adhere to strictures discussed with the brands.

In our Grasim, Harihar unit we operate on a social forestry principle. It is the only plant in the world which supports plantation through its Clonal Centre, shares saplings to farmers and manufacture wood pulp and fibre in the same area. This has created job opportunities for farmers who benefit from this.

Global brands offer to global consumers what they need which research shows as eco friendly, fashionable products. Both brands and consumers have increasingly started talking about sustainable merchandise and their benefits; earlier brands were differentiated mostly by fashion and now it is differentiated on the basis of eco friendliness too.

This has increased the demand for eco-friendly and sustainable clothing and more so which is traceable through the chain. Viscose garments exported from India have shown a growth of 27% in the last 2 years. Consumers are curious to know the entire cycle from Cradle to Factory to Shelf. We do traceability for the brands right from the place of wood to sourcing the raw materials to pulp to fibre to yarn to grey fabric to finished fabric to final garment.

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