The knitwear industry in India is poised for a major take-off in
the world of fashion as designers find a lucrative outlet for their
With Indias rich history of
textile traditions and the skills of her craftsmen, it is not
surprising that the country should make a foray into the exciting
world of woolen knitwear. With the help of the International Wool
Secretariat (IWS) the Indian woolen knitwear industry has been
groomed for the past three years to match its creative skills with
international standards and also to improve its designing skills.
At the last knitwear show held in June
1992, nearly 33 knitwear manufacturers displayed 157 garments and 17
shawl manufactures showed 80 shawls for the local market. After the
show retailers from all over the country were able to book for the
autumn-winter 92-93 season. Booking was up by nearly 20
per cent from the previous year. This show has been held for the
past three years with the help and guidance of the IWS Indian
For the woolen industry there are two
types of wool used the 100 per cent Australian wool for
garments and shawls which is termed as apparel wool and the New
Zealand or Indian wool which is used for non-apparel items like
carpets, upholstery, blankets etc. Since the local wool is coarse it
is ideal for no-apparel items. There are nearly a hundred different
types of wool produced in Rajasthan in India.
The popular varieties are Chokla,
Magna, Jaisalmer, Joria etc. These varieties are blended with New
Zealand wool. As far as the export market is concerned.
Indias performance in woollen garments is quite negligible,
informs Dr. S.K.Chaudhuri, Director of IWS London, Indian Branch.
With Italy being the number one woollen fabric manufacturer and
Germany coming a close second there is not much chance for new
entrants. In the knitwear division 80 per cent of the world exports
are from Italy. Taiwan, Hongkong and Mauritius.
Every year India imports nearly 20
million kilogrammes of greasy wool from Australia for fabrics and
shawls and nearly 16 million kilogrammes of clean scoured for
non-apparel items. Nearly six million kilogrammes of wool is used
per annum in India to produce knitwear.
There is tremendous potential for
exports from India of woollen knitwear, enlightens Dr.
Chaudhuri. But the West European market is fiercely competitive.
Fortunately in India it is a sellers market so it is easy,
he adds. But India can also be very competitive price-wise. The IWS
has helped Indian manufacturers to learn about the latest trends in
knitwear fashion. As a trend-setter they are able to forecast world
trends. The IWS has also helped in bringing together Indian sellers
and foreign buyers with the help of brochures and information on
Indian knitwear. The first sample order of nearly 500.000 pieces
from the UK last year will set the ball rolling followed by similar
programmes in Germany and USA. A similar fabric sales export project
of what garments and designs are in vogue was mooted in January 1992.
A project is also underway to export woollen shawls to the European
market. So far shawls were designed for the NRI market,
says Dr. Chaudhuri.
Wool that is imported into India goes
through various stages before it is made into knitwear, shawls etc.
In the scouring and processing stages the grease (lanolin) is removed
and used for cosmetic purposes. After the blending, carding, combing
and spinning processes the yarn is made into knitwear. Most of the
units have their own designing forecast two years in advance. To
give a further impetus to the woollen knitwear industry,
manufacturers are in the process of bypassing two of the initial
processes to reduce cost. The IWS is also trying to convert cotton
knitwear manufacturers into woollen sections. In smaller towns like
Bhiwandi in Maharashtra, a blend of wool and cotton will make the
fabric more affordable.
The most popular wool used for knitwear
is Merino which accounts for nearly 80 per cent. The balance 20 per
cent is divided amongst various types like Mohair, Angora, Rabbit
etc. Hand knitting wool is always 100 per cent Australian and there
is a tremendous market for hand knitted garments for export all over
the world. In the local market, knitwear has its major sales in
north India because of the weather.
The interest in the woollen knitwear
industry has definitely grown in the last three years. At the
first fashion show, the manufacturers were hesitant and only 14 took
par. Last year the number went upto 33, says Dr. Chaudhuri.
Ludhiana in Punjab is the major centre for the woollen knitwear
With the help of the IWS designers who
come regularly to India the knitwear manufacturers are able to follow
international trends. The IWS designers compile best selling
collections from foreign markets and ask manufacturers to create
garments accordingly. These garments are taken of UK, USA and other
foreign buyers who then place their orders. To encourage the woollen
knitwear industry further, design schools like the National Institute
of Fashion Technology, New Delhi, and National Institute of Design in
Ahmedabad are encouraged to introduce their students to wool as a
medium for design. A contest is held by IWS every year to select the
best designer. The winning designer then wins a trip to the Hong
Kong Wool Fair. Fashion trends for this autumn-winter as per the
international and Indian predictions are exciting and vibrant.
For the autumn season three Indian
spinners --- Punjab Worsted Spinners, Kohinoor Woollen Mills and
Jayashree Textile have developed new yarns and colours for
ready sampling. The woolmark licensees get all the assistance
required for their designing. The pure new wool yarn trends are in
Merino, Lambswool, Misty, Roley and Dynasty. Merino is the classic
wool in 28 shades. Lambswool is a high quality soft handle yarn.
Misty is a natural brushed quality combining wool with Mohair in
monochrome and multi-coloured shades softened by surface hair. Roley
is a light monochrome stopino yarn which gives a soft dense look
ideal for textural effects. And Dynasty is a precious fibre blend of
pure new wool and kid Mohair Melange colouration. The fashion trends
are divided into Morning, Noon and Evening colours and styles for
ladies and gents knitwear.
The Morning section is city slick for a
day at the office or at the shops. The colours are hazy morning
colours of wool white, light grey, fawn, mole brown, granite
grey, camel with base shades like dark brown, sky blue. The shapes
are the layered look for ladies which are over-sized with deep raglan
or saddles sleeves and for gents it is the longer line cardigan
shapes or a blouson pullover.
Noon colours are for casual lunches and
relaxed sporty afternoons. The colours are warm shades of nutmeg
brown, burnt orange, terracotta, sunshine yellow, light olive, sharp
pink, lavender, mauve, sky blue. Womens designs are once again
with drop shoulders often slashed at the hemline for easy movement.
Cocoon shapes are popular along with swinging cropped shapes. For
gents the fishermans tunics are in, along with waist-coats to
wear over pullovers.
For evening glamour there is a rich
vibrant look for young collegiates and sophisticated party goers.
Evening colours are more striking with forest green, emerald, cobalt,
dark navy, dark purple, magenta, raspberry, crimson, dark brown and
chestnut forming the basis with light olive, burnt orange and
sunshine yellow accents. Shapes for ladies are Vee cardigan styles
ribbed or tubular, belted to give a jacket look and for gents wear it
is the short easy-fitting cardigans and pullovers to give a formal
look. Even styling indications for shawls are distinct in colours
With Indian Woollen knitwear
manufacturers following the international fashion trends so closely
it wont be long before the domestic market in the country is
flooded with high fashion knitwear and India will also be able to
make her presence felt on the international fashion scene.