With the Indian hosiery industry being one of the oldest and largest industries in India, it is a huge driver of economic growth and prosperity in our country with a significant contribution to Indian GDP and exports. The industry is extremely varied and has both hand spun and woven textiles on one hand and sophisticated capital intensive mills on the other. Being a very diverse industry consisting of large as well as medium and small players, the Indian hosiery industry is capable of producing a wide variety of products for both men and women alike.

The hosiery industry is not just of significance in India but worldwide as the global hosiery industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 2.5% during the forecast period of 2020-2025. While hosiery products are used by both men and women, it has been noted that women’s segment holds a major share of the hosiery market globally, with Europe having the largest market for the same. With the advancement of digitization and the increase in need for personal grooming and wellness, there has been a firm growth of online sales, with the hosiery players making their digital presence more prominent in the recent days.

The COVID-19 pandemic which emerged in the latter months of 2019 has affected all sectors alike and the hosiery industry too has been no exception to the same. The stunted growth brought about by the pandemic was expected to recover in 2021. However, India suffered a heavy blow with the re-emergence of the corona virus in what is known as the second wave of the pandemic. As innerwear is regarded as an individual’s second skin, the demand for the same had remained more or less buoyant throughout the pandemic. However, during the second lockdown which has currently been imposed by state governments across the country to help contain the spread of the virus, the demand has seen a fall as it has become impossible to reach the interiors and remote areas of the country from where once there was an evident demand, reducing the scope of supply of products. As a result, a fall in demand for hosiery goods has been noted which is bound to lead to a fall in the price of cotton in India.

The pandemic has ruptured many sectors of the Indian economy and it has undoubtedly been unkindest to the vulnerable groups of our society such as the daily wage earners. In the first wave, the Indian hosiery industry has already had to tackle the issue of migrant workers reverse migrating back to their hometowns, being unsure of their source of livelihoods in view of the lockdown and halt to activities. A similar crisis has come to resurface, something that was inevitable in view of a second wave of the virus which would lead to a lockdown. In this light it is extremely crucial to cater to the needs of the labourers who are in utter distress by assuring them of their livelihood and convincing them to stay back. This in turn shall fulfil dual purposes of keeping production afloat along with restricting movement of the workers that will help contain the spread of the fatal virus.

Further, the small players in the Indian hosiery industry have had to bear the most brutal brunt of the pandemic as there has almost been a complete halt in their production as they are plagued with an uncertain outlook along with stretched out liquidity and working capital and soaring cost of raw materials. As the majority of the apparel manufacturing sector in India remains mostly unorganized, relying heavily on cash and credit, meaning smaller players have been most likely to get impacted by the state imposed lockdowns. This, coupled with the migrant labourer crisis, has dealt a severe blow to the hosiery industry.

The need to innovate and come up with fresh solutions and techniques to keep oneself afloat in turbulent times like these can be regarded as a silver lining to the ongoing menace. The limitation in movement and much needed restriction on gathering has come about as a hindrance to the growth and recovery of the hosiery industry, something it was battling in the first wave of the virus itself. However, lessons from the first wave are deemed to come in useful this time as manufacturers are extra cautious and already have an understanding of how to better the situation. In this regard it is imperative that the hosiery industry strengthens its digital presence, as observed by the hosiery industry overseas so as to facilitate an online mode of transactions as opposed to their traditional brick and mortar stores increasing wider reach and seeing a rise in their e-commerce sales.

The second wave of the corona virus has affected the Indian economy furthermore, as it was still recovering from the far reaching effects of the pandemic. Nonetheless this time the hosiery industry is better equipped to deal with the challenges. However, there still remains a bright ray of hope for the global hosiery market in terms of growth in the wider picture. While the Indian market maybe stunted due to the second wave, the global market is expected to grow with emerging developments in latest hosiery trends coupled with a steady demand for the same worldwide. A firm and proper vaccination drive along with following Covid-19 appropriate behaviour is bound to put the virus to rest and until then the Indian hosiery industry must come together to do its bit in fighting the deadly virus away. The industry as well as the country’s economy will make a huge comeback, of course.

Image Source: jagran.com

Mr. Vinod Kumar Gupta

Managing Director

Dollar Industries Limited