Aamir Akhtar At ‘What Next For Denim’ Webinar

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Recently Denimsandjeans held a webinar ‘What Next For Denim’ with some of very well known and globally reputed denim professionals . The panelists included :

1. Albert Candiani (Owner – Candiani Mills) 2. Aamir Akhtar (CEO- Arvind Mills) 3. Alberto De Conti( Head Of Fashion Division- Rudolf) 4. Maurizio Donadi (Co-Founder – Atelier & Repairs) 5. Carlos Arias (CEO- Jeanologia) 6. Stefano Aldighieri( President – Another Design Studio)

The talk was moderated by Sandeep Agarwal and Stefano Aldighieri. We now bring the comments of the panelists of our key questions related to denim industry in a series of six articles with each article giving clear views of each panelist.

In the current article, we bring the thoughts of Aamir Akhtar – CEO Arvind Limited, India . We share his original comments on some of the questions that were put to him during the discussion . (video of his talk )

WHAT IS THE WAY FORWARD FOR DENIM?

We are talking about denim industries and denim industry is so all encompassing from fibers to yarns to the manufacturer to the distribution to the brands and retail, there will be huge amount of churning in the whole industry and every part of the industry -starting of the retailer .And we have been seeing what is really happening. The weaker ones really are going through a lot of aggravation of Chapter11.

And the fact is that with so many distractions we had till now . Not distractions but alternate options for consumers – which is right from holiday to eating out , to vacations , to cell phone etc. Continuously apparel including jeans has been losing shares to these other industries. So, to be honest , I think the apparel industry in general and denim industry in particular has got a breather. 

For some time people will not be able to travel, people will not be able to go to restaurants or go less to the restaurants. So that money is available to the consumers. Let’s say jeans or a unit cost of jeans being low- it’s instant gratification at a low cost. 

So I think Stefano’s point was very interesting and the biggest fallout we have seen in the supply chain of the current pandemic is the problem of cash flows all across, and I think the biggest source of cash flow problem has been the inventories. So it’s the brands, retailers and the supply chain which is holding onto large inventories, and which is driving this whole cash flow problem which is driving chapter11 and all those issues. 

The current model in our industry is sort of the way it is, about almost a year or 12 or 14 or 16 months in advance we’re expecting some people to take a decision on behalf of a consumer as to what they are going to buy and that is unfair, it’s impossible, it’s practically just not possible. 

So that means taking those calls and producing goods in advance  way-way years in advance. And expecting those goods to sell, I think that’s where the fundamental problem is. 

Possibly, I don’t know it’s not going to happen overnight, it will not be an event but as a continuum . I believe this experience, this very sort of unfortunate experience, possibly one can see a shift in the business model of industries. 

If you see the automobile industry with whatever has happened due to Uber/App based taxi service,the industry itself has got disrupted where people move away from owning assets into the service.

People are realizing that there are assets that can run and deliver more value. So, rather than you own assets and it is more convenient to avail the service, it is less costly. So, in our industry also possibly there could be this shift towards pull based supply chains. Right now, it’s all being pushed, so you’re manufacturing, you’re deciding and you’re pushing things to stores and to consumers and finally then it doesn’t sell which ends up in landfills. 

Possibly, there’s a case for you know pull based industry and its power to the consumers so it masks all the things (all the cool things we’ve been hearing about till now )and we have thought they are which were very hypothetical. But possibly when seeing this that there is value in this where its mass customizations, its manufacturing to the requirement of the consumers rather than taking calls on behalf of the consumers.

And today there are technologies available where you can produce 1 unit, you don’t have to spend billions of yards of fabric and stuff like that.

So, possibly one could see a shift towards that direction.

WHAT ARE THE 3 THINGS DENIM INDUSTRY NEED TO DO?

I personally feel as an industry, to give direction to the industry like if you draw parallel from the other industries. For ex. Automobile industry has seen a destruction over the coming of electric vehicles (e- V’s) and we saw that phone industry going through a huge change when you got smartphones. LED TV has been able to disrupt the television industries.

So even now industry technology if you see what has happened for ex. Carlos from Jeanologia – what laser has done to the industry, it is really destructive, the whole garment finishing part of the industry. So, it’s way more sustainable, efficient, less losses and lower cost. 

So I think there are multiple technologies which one can see in the industries from dyeing in a very efficient manner with low cost and in a sustainable manner to multiple phases we are seeing in an industry eg recycling. And I personally feel that this technology has the power of being able to make the industry more efficient, more sustainable, bring down costs as well reduce wastages.

So, this whole thing about using technology – that’s to me is one of the important parts because it can take the industry to the next level and give a new direction to the industry. And all these things will become a subset of that- sustainability, circularity that’s a one point. 

The other point is that I believe that our industry we watch and pay design people. We have got some very good design talent, operation talent, merchandising talent and management. The managerial part of the industry is very important, because for the industry to create value, attracting good talent to be industry. So like you have the challenge going to other industries and creating disproportionate value to the other industry. Unfortunately as an industry we’ve not been able to attract great talent where we have been able to create value for the stakeholders. So if you end up doing that then more capital will flow to the industry. People will start seeing this industry as creating a lot of value.

So these are the few things that came into my mind.

Watch our all episodes of #CovidTimes talks and Webinar at our official YouTube channel

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