India is an important, but not particularly large production country for Gina Tricot. In India, we primarily manufacture blouses and dresses, along with many types of shawls and scarves. Most of our suppliers are located in and around the capital, New Delhi, and in the next largest city, Mumbai. India's textile industry has a very long history. The country has an extensive history of weaving, dyeing, printing and embroidery. We can still see traces of this rich history of craftsmanship in today's industry. Because of these details, such as embroidery, garments produced in India often require extra care and gentleness in order to hold up and look pretty, which is important to keep in mind. The price is sometimes also a bit higher, but we think it's worth it, given the amount of work that has gone into each garment. Remember that you might be wearing a beaded garment that someone embroidered by hand. What a privilege! We discussed India and Indian textile manufacturing a bit more with our buyers of woven goods here at Gina Tricot.
Which products do you buy from India and what is India's particular expertise compared to China, for example?
India is primarily good at thinner types of cotton fabrics, such as voile, cambric and gauze. We get very nice intricate fabrics, like broderie anglaise, from India as well. There are, of course, also the more labour intensive products with decorations like beads and embroidery too. India is by far the best in these areas. There is no other production market that can compete with their level of workmanship. India has a rich tradition of needlework and craftsmanship, which is quite evident. They are extremely creative and have a wonderful eye for colour and design. China is good at giving you exactly what you ask for, but our Indian suppliers can come up with their own amazing creations based on just a picture or sketch.
Is there anything that you have to give special consideration to, and be aware of, when working with Indian suppliers? What is it like cooperating with them and how would you describe their business mentality?
The Indians I've met and worked with are all very generous, humorous, warm and friendly. They are extremely optimistic, which you need to keep in mind when estimating lead times. Sometimes, they underestimate the amount of time required, so it's necessary to have a certain margin. It is important to remember that the infrastructure in this country has its limitations. Also, products containing a large amount of needlework tend to vary in appearance. It's impossible for them to all come out looking the same, but that's part of the appeal.
You've cooperated with Indian suppliers for many years. In what ways have you noticed that the textile industry has changed?
Quite a lot has happened, particularly during the last ten years. A lot has changed. Many suppliers have invested in new factories in rural areas and major investments in new technology have been made. They've also improved their knowledge of production planning and the suppliers understand our requirements. In large cities, like Delhi and Mumbai, the infrastructure has evolved with new roads, airports and public transport. The Indian middle class is growing, and we can see western influences in the clothing, food and culture. Today, you can find more and more large shopping centres and fast food chains in the major cities. None of that existed fifteen years ago.
What kinds of challenges are there going forward?
India is still a country where there is widespread corruption. A large portion of the population is still very poor and living in the countryside, where there is limited access to services and education. Illiteracy is also extensive and the wealth gap in society is growing.
It will be exciting to follow India's progress in the future. Despite the many challenges, those of us here at Gina Tricot believe there is enormous potential for continued production in India. Many suppliers are optimistic and they are making significant financial investments in their businesses, which are really paying off. We no longer see the same problems as before, when quality was inconsistent and deliveries were often late. The products are better and they've successfully integrated traditional craftsmanship into modern production in a unique way. We hope they will continue in this same direction.