Garments Made in India: Why Quality is Factor?

Last Updated on 21/12/2020


R.S. Balakumar
Associate Professor
Dept of Fashion Design & Arts
Hindustan University, Chennai, India


It is well known fact that India is not considered a source of high quality, high priced (also called high value added) garments, primarily because of low quality of both the fabric and the apparel manufacturing. Not only that, even in low priced, low quality garments, quality leaves a great deal to be desired.

As the multi-fiber agreement (MFA) draws close by the year 2005 India will have to complete with all Asian and South East Asian countries on a competitive basis without the protection of quotas. According to Koshy the phase-out of MFA is expected to lead to receding prices, increasing competition, better price performance balance, quality price match, quick response and real-time merchandising and the need for higher levels of service.

garments made in india
Fig: Garments made in India

Export of ready made garments plays a very significant role in Indian economy because it provides employment for hundreds of thousands of workers and earns about one third of the foreign exchange. Therefore, it is imperative that the quality of garments made in India improve. Perhaps, understanding why the quality of garments made in India is low will help find a way to improve quality and it will also help buyers understand what to expect from Indian garments.

The fabric production in India is organized in three distinct sectors, mills, power looms and hand looms. Power looms and hand looms are a significant source of fabrics for the apparel manufacturers in India.

The reasons for low quality of power loom fabrics are:

1. The majority of the looms in power loom sector are ordinary looms (as opposed to automatic looms). These ordinary looms are generally reconditioned looms discarded by the mill sector. These looms are rarely serviced, leading to weaving problems.

2. The quality of yarn available to the power loom sector or used by the power loom sector is low. For example, most cotton yarns are found to be rather dirty and nappy in appearance; there is a tendency to use higher twist factors, resulting in “lively” yarn upon wet processing; poor cleanliness and house keeping resulting in “fly” in the air which gets caught in the yarn, making it look dirty; tendency to spin cotton and polyester yarns on the same spinning frame resulting in polyester fiber getting deposited on cotton and vice versa which results in specky dyeing.

3. Most fabrics are found to contain too many fabric defects such as missing picks, slubs, oil stains etc. In particular, the problem of oil stains is severe. All of these are related to condition of the looms, quality of yarn and house keeping.

4. Variation of cotton from lot to lot or sometimes even within a lot results in variation in shade in dyeing.

5. Gray fabrics are reported to shrink more during wet processing. This can be attributed to higher stretch of fabric on looms and use of high twist factors in spinning yarns.

6. Markings on fabrics such as crayon marks, chalk marks, and stamping are many times not easily removed, resulting in fabric defects.

7. Many loose threads from cropping and shearing are often found sticking to the fabric spoiling the quality of the dyed or printed fabric.

8. Soiling and staining due to excessive moisture while packing is another problem. Excessive moisture also sometime results in mildew or other stains from sizing.

9. Fabrics are not inspected properly before packing and that enough care is not taken during packing.

10. Different piece lengths and number of pieces are packed in each bale which almost never do tally with the packing list/slip.

11. Based on the above it is clear what needs to be done to improve quality of fabric produced by the produced by the power loom sector.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Selection of appropriate cotton fibers to produce quality yarn is necessary. The cotton fibers should have adequate maturity and the percentage of short fibers and trash should be minimized.
  • Looms should be maintained (serviced) on a regular basis.
  • Use of electronic clearer on each power loom will go a long way in increasing quality of fabric produced.
  • In order to reduce variation, fabric within the same lot should be woven on the looms with the same particulars.
  • Mix up of yarn count should be avoided when possible.
  • Color markings should be avoided when possible.
  • All looms and working space should be kept clear and clean.
  • In order to eliminate ‘fly’ in the air, suction devices should be used with proper return air system.
  • Material handling and storage racks should be provided so that fabric is not damaged during handling and storage.

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