Rishi Bhalla is the Vice President of sourcing at Bewakoof - a well-known brand among people who love to wear cool and casual fashion. We have him here with Fashionza to share his experience in the garment industry. According to Rishi, the garment industry now is dynamic as ever before. Today, customers' demand changes now and then. Brands should be ready to address what the market needs. Let’s find out how Bewakoof rules the roost in such a back-breaking market from the Vice President (sourcing) himself! Read the interview to learn about the day-to-day challenges they face as a brand, how they deal with competition, and many such interesting things about the apparel industry.
The garment line is agile and dynamic. So are my days, with multiple fronts to manage in one go. This includes the garment manufacturing process and sourcing. Most importantly, every step depends on numerous variables. Even a minor change in any of the variables can lead to an issue. Therefore, the daily processes and weekly reports are crucial for us. It helps the entire team stay aligned and be on the same page. Furthermore, we have to consider the red flags and emergencies coming in and address them before we have the weekly reports in our hands. We have a lot of work-related exchanges with the designer team that we need to cater to, including new fabric development, new garment styles, etc.
We have moved toward fast fashion, where customer demand has increased, and they look for new designs and styles almost every day. We have to remain in line with their needs. The most challenging part is to come up with multiple deliverables in a short lead time. Previously, we had long lead times. We used to plan for months together, say perhaps six months ahead. However, things have become more challenging now with the fashion industry changing rapidly. Now we have to plan for every month. For example - if a new demand comes today, we need to plan to be ready for it by the very next month. Also, the delivery is expected to be within 30 or 45 days, whereas earlier, the delivery timeline was around 90 days. Another thing I would like to add is - earlier, sourcing was done on a pan-India or regional basis. However, now the entire world has become one unit! Today, we can source raw materials from across the globe. So, it is quite a challenge for the supply chain.
Well, there are primarily two things that are crucial in analyzing the way forward and predicting demand. The first one is data. It is the brain of any process. And the second one is experience. At Bewakoof, we put these two ingredients together to predict demand and come up with a plan. Needless to mention, data comes from technology. So, yes, technology is important. Earlier, we had many buying houses and middlemen who would create demand for both - buyers and sellers. However, data is now freely available. Today, reaching out to people and procuring raw materials like polyester, viscose, and cotton from across the globe is easy - a technological boon indeed. Another benefit of technology is the open pricing system. So, technology, along with experience, has made supply chain processes hassle-free, transparent, and quick.
Compliance is critical to the garment industry. Proper wages for workers, canteen facilities, and medical benefits all come under compliance guidelines. Social compliance that every factory should adhere to, including emergency and fire exits. We prefer to work with units that are compliant with industry standards. One of the latest additions to the list of compliances is creche facilities for the children of working mothers. It allows the mother to leave her child with other children in a safe and secure environment while she is at work. It's a very emotional angle that the industry has given weightage to. I especially love and appreciate such stands. Some compliances are also related to the health and well-being of the workers. These include using azo-free, lead-free, and other harmful chemicals-free dyes and paints. I feel there are additional points to be added to the compliance list. For example, the same machine is used for making kids' and adults' garments. Often when needles break, the naked human eye may not detect them. Even a small bit of needle left in a piece of clothing can harm the one wearing it. Therefore, many manufacturing units use needle detectors. This sensor can identify broken needles when a garment passes through it, ensuring there is nothing harmful in that garment.
Being updated with the latest market trends is crucial to stay ahead of the competition. Here, I would like to give a classic example I learned during my Bachelor's course - the five Ps approach, i.e., Product, Price, Place, Promotion, and People. You need the right product for your customers. Your product should be appropriately priced. Promotion helps your customers know about your products. Location is not a relevant factor now as you can receive and send products across the globe. Online retail is the best example. People are your customers, the heart and brain of your business. So, to draw more and more customers, you need to reach out to them, understand their pain points, and tell them how you can help them with the right products.
Our regular T-shirts have always been there and are here to stay. Oversized T-shirts have picked up the pace quite well in the last six months. We are planning to upgrade our oversized T-shirt segment with new styles and products. Moreover, we are also planning to launch our teenage line this year.
Bewakoof means new-age fashion with a best-in-class online shopping experience. Whatever words we had with Mr Rishi Bhalla were practical and pertinent to the current fashion realm. Hopefully, people aspiring to venture into the fashion industry will benefit from his expertise.
1. Innovation is the key to outshining.
2. Compliance is integral to the garment industry.