Fashionable Business

The Indian fashion garments industry seems headed nowhere. Anushree A Deshpande discovers why.

The Lakme-sponsored India Fashion Week (IFW), held in April this year heralded good looks, glamour and the latest fashion trends to come in the fast-changing world of the Rs20,000-crore Indian apparel industry. As the foremost event of the Indian fashion industry, the business prospects and commercial gains proffered by such an event need to be considered.

The first IFW was organised by the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) in August 2000. Ever since, the event not only showcases the work of Indian designers but also promotes the fashion industry at large, within the country and overseas.

The Indian fashion industry faces brighter prospects ever since the quota regime ended on January 1, 2005. A quota-free era heralds promise for growth in the textile business for countries such as India and its larger rival China. Both the countries are among the largest exporters of textile garments and fabrics.

The quota regime restricted free export of materials and garments from the developing countries, giving an edge to developed ones, such as the US. The regime resulted in unfair trade practices, such as hoarding of licenses for quotas and their eventual sale in the black market, and the shipping of low quality goods to meet contract demands. There was little incentive for the manufacturers to upgrade and improve either their products or manufacturing abilities.

The WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC) ended the quota regime on January 1, 2005. The ATC is intended to reintegrate the textile sector into the mainstream of multilateral rules, as applicable to other sectors. The end of the quota regime signifies the potential for an exponential growth for the fashion industries of all the countries that had faced quota restrictions earlier. ()