Denim evolution and change – decoding the ‘blue-blooded’ fabric

There are distinctive changes in denim over the past several years. About ten years ago, the image of denim was a typical 14.5 ounce, rugged pair of jeans, which was associated with the wild-west and American jeans culture. Today, the image has completely changed. Denim is fashionable and contemporary; and one will find people wearing toned, light-weight coated jeans. Denim as a ‘canvas’ has really evolved. In addition, denim is available in different fibers, colours and blends. Denim has been accepted across by men, women and kids; it is not only a key material in making bottom wear but is also making inroads for other apparel categories. Consumers – men, women and children – are enjoying wearing denim; also it is becoming a contemporary wear for different occasions, evening or party wear.
India is one of the leading markets for denim fabrics, and it excels, in terms of innovation and categorisation of trends. Indian market consumes approximately 500 million meters of denim every year as against the US which is a highly mature market and consumes approximately 700 million meters every year. So, we are a fairly large player in the global denim industry, and Indian denim manufacturers portray a unique image, in a sector which is known for experimentation and innovation.

Innovation is key
In innovation, there has been a relavent shift from rigid to stretch denims. Today, within stretche denim one is witnessing a lot of evolution, too. And now there are specialised stretches, which can deliver good performance.
Arvind Mills has also introduced dual core technologies in stretch denims. Today, there are denims, which have a lot of strechness with very high recovery. Our recent launch ‘Boomerang’ stretch has a similar feature.
Our innovation strategy is very strong, and we have a pipeline of innovations for the next 2-3 years. As part of the strategy, we commercialise and launch several new products from time-to-time. We have recently launched many innovative concepts like:

  1. ‘Neo Denims’, these are dark coloured denims produced by utilising the latest technology of indigo dyeing.
  2. ‘Boomerang’, these are soft stretch denims with very low shrinkage and having very good recovery.
  3. ‘Neo Cords’, these are true indigo corduroys that wash down like regular denim jeans.

All these innovations have been very well received in the market.

Colour bust in the market
Largely, denims are in different shades and casts of indigo. However after every few years a new a trend of coloured denims comes up.

Sustainability, the green way
The green concept goes across fibers, processes and finishing. And with regard to sustainability, it starts with the usage of fiber which is eco-friendly followed by a sustainable dyeing system, reduced usage of water and finishing it with sustainable chemicals along with reducing the carbon footprint.
Currently, it is mandatory for all brands to reduce the carbon footprint; hence, companies are focused on sustainability.


Organic denims
In the category of sustainable cottons we have different offerings like organic cotton, recycled cotton Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) etc. At Arvind Mills, we are offering denims made out of all these cottons. India, in general, and Arvind Mills, in particular, is one of the largest producers of organic cotton and BCI, thanks to several initiatives in this regard.

The per capita consumption of denim in the country has increased between 13-15 percent. However, there is 30-35 percent surplus capacity amongst Indian mills. According to our estimates this sector produces nearly 700 million meters of denim fabric.

Competition for Indian denim fabric
Over the past few years, we have observed international companies are trying to sell denim fabric to India, at a time when there is surplus capacity.
Competition is always welcome and these international companies bring innovations in retailing and distribution.

Indian exports
Our exports, for both denim fabrics and finished products is approximately 200 million meters, and has grown considerably.

Pricing can be monitored across categories, and in segments having high consumption there is more capacity to do so. However, in certain categories, where demand and supply are in equilibrium, there the recognition is also good.

India vs. China
Both countries have their respective strengths with regard to denim fabric; China is the largest consumer of cotton while, we are the largest exporter of cotton today.

Future roadmap
There is a lot of vertical consolidation which is taking place in many countries. For instance, there are companies who produce garments and those who produce fabrics, and together they may plan to sell denim products. Consolidation in garment manufacturing and production of fabric will decide the future of this industry, later.
India has a dynamic supply chain and emphasis on moving up the value chain would help meet customer needs. International companies are exploring opportunities to retail their brands in Asia and Indian players can fulfill these requirements.