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“We can be a supplier to not only our nation but the entire world.”

Nilesh Shah FSAFSA, the only association representing wholesale fabric suppliers in the entire garment industry, organises two ‘Textrade’ fabric fairs every year in Mumbai. The two-day event presents a golden opportunity to its visitors to showcase fabric creativity, design innovation, splash of colors and fashion extravaganza for the seasons. The association recently held the 25th edition of the fair. Nilesh Shah, Ex-Secretary and Founder Member, Fabric Suppliers Association of India, elaborates on this fair and the association.  

 What were the reasons behind the inception of this fair?

 As we shared a very good relationship with our traders, both of us were aware of the problems faced by each. However, we did not have a platform to address these problems. One of our old members suggested that we create such a platform that facilitates our interaction with each other.  Thus, the idea of Fabric Suppliers Association was born. The association has been involved with all types of traders since the last 12 years and offers them a platform to share their grievance, experiences, etc. 

How will this trade fair benefit the industry?

This is the only trading community fair which is a one stop shop for all garment manufacturers across India. The fair showcases a wide range of garments including ladies wear, men’s wear, kids wear to winter. Held twice in a year, the fair is organised in a proper systematic manner. It showcases all upcoming garment trends six months in advance.

What are your reasons for restricting this fair to Mumbai only?We can be a supplier to not only our nation but the entire world

We wanted to gauge the fair’s performance for atleast 10 years before expanding it to other cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and overseas. We also plan to expand this fair to other countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Dubai which not only enable our traders to display their collections across the world but also allow our customers to avail of latest fashion at affordable rates. Another of our plan includes foraying into South East Asia market which is a major manufacturing hub.

Do you think other Indian cities will give you the same kind of foothold that Mumbai provides?

All Indian cities have their distinctive features. Even Bengaluru, Kolkatta and Delhi are as promising and happening like Mumbai. They also house some good garment manufacturers besides a huge market. We plan to cover all these cities on the basis of the response we get in these markets and how many new members we add to our association.

There are a lot of garment manufacturers mushrooming in Mumbai. How many of these were you able to tap?

We were able to reach out to almost 90 per cent of our customers and convey the fair dates two months in advance. This was done through our huge mailing list and a large network of people. We conveyed this message on pan India basis which enabled these visitors to book their flight tickets at cheaper rates. By 2020, we aim to reach out to 100 per cent of our customers across India.

 How helpful has the government been in this? Did you seek its support?

We have been conveying our problems to the government which has been quite serious about addressing our concerns. It is trying to address several of our issues including garments imports from Bangladesh, difficult working conditions, employment issues etc. Slowly and gradually, the government is realising the importance of this sector as the second largest employer in the country. 

Do you think India’s FTA with Bangladesh restricts its growth in garmenting?

This was a concern previously but now the textile ministry is taking a serious note of garment imports from Bangladesh. It addresses all the challenges and sorts out abnormalities and loop holes.  In the next few months, the domestic industry will be on par with the Bangladesh industry. 

The garment industry’s diversified portfolio will make it the next big thing and a one stop shop. We can be a supplier to not only our nation but the entire world. 

Vietnam is coming up in a very big way.  Would you consider it as a challenge for India?

At present it is a challenge. However, India has a large textile manufacturing base which Vietnam does not.  In a few years time, all the inadequacies will be sorted out and we will flourish just like Vietnam.  Also, Vietnam does not produce all the fabrics like Bangladesh and they are ultimately shipped from India.  Therefore all big  companies want to set up their manufacturing and as well as sourcing bases in India. 

What is the status of FSA trade fairs? How many exhibitors are there and what is the foot fall expected from this particular event?

At present, around 100 exhibitors are participating in this event while over 1,500 people have registered with our company. In all, we expect a footfall of 5,000 people from this event which is quiet a good number considering that this is predominantly a garment manufacturers’ fair and not retailers’.

How do you deal with defaulters? 

We have a processing arbitration committee that scrutinises each and every complaint of our members. We try to resolve these grievances amicably. The committee helps in making the trade healthier and flourishing for the new generation. It has received a tremendous response from our members.

Anything else you would like to highlight about FSA?

Both the FSA committee and FSA Arbitrary committee are doing a fantastic job and we are quite optimistic about their future growth prospects.