– Garment Industry to go sustainable to take full advantage FTAs : Chairman AEPC

– Chairman AEPC stressed on ‘Compliance first, Business next’ motto

– Global brands unequivocally advocated their drive towards sustainability and advised suppliers to take smaller steps to begin the journey

New Delhi/ Gurugram 3rd November 2022: Apparel Export Promotion Council announces a grand launch of Apparel Industry Sustainability Action (AISA) on 2nd November 2022 at Apparel House, Gurugram. The initiative aims at evaluating the existing status of Indian garment industry, encourage wider penetration of these measures amongst the MSMEs, hand holding these units with demonstrations and solutions, enhance the brand visibility of sustainable companies on global platform and brainstorm necessary policy focus towards wider and smooth adoption of sustainability measures amongst Indian garment units at large.

The meeting saw participation from Ms. Prajakta Verma, Joint Secretary Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, Ms. Shubhra, Trade Advisor, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, Ms. Roop Rashi Mahapatra, Textile Commissioner, Government of India, Mr. Sudhir Sekhri, Vice Chairman, AEPC, Mr. Gautam Nair, Chairman, Export Promotion, AEPC.

This open house discussion brought together prominent global apparel brands including PVH, Target, Bestseller, M&S, etc. The meeting also saw the presence of buying agents, buying houses, Industry Associations, with national front runners on sustainability including KGFabricks, ZDHC foundation, Jaipur Rugs, Auditing agencies including CKinetics, ENEN green, Only good, etc. The meeting also witnessed support and guidance across the borders including United National Environment Program and Denmark embassy, Fashion for Good, Netherlands; all bringing in their experiences towards assisting the Indian garment manufacturers to invoke sustainability measures in their manufacturing processes.

Speaking on the launch Mr Naren Goenka, Chairman AEPC said, “As we all know the global garment production is forecasted to increase by 63% by 2030. This spectacular growth brings with it an ever-growing global concern on the detrimental impact that this fashion industry brings as it is one of the most resource intensive industries. Also, considering the growing consumer awareness on sustainability and the gaps in the global markets, it is a dire need for the Indian Apparel industry to dig deeper into the subject.”

The Government has been very proactive towards announcing various export promotion initiatives and signing various Free Trade agreements with UAE, Australia, UK, Canada etc. Appreciating the shift in the purchasing behaviour amongst the global consumers in most of the traditional as well as emerging export markets for Indian garment, Industry today has no choice but to go sustainable to take full advantage of these FTAs, Goenka added.

Ms. Prajakta Verma, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, GOI stated that, “A collaborative and cluster-based approach should be taken to help MSMEs become sustainable companies by solving the pressing issues. She also emphasized that larger brands should collaborate with start-ups in ensuring sustainability and circularity.”

Ms. Shubhra, Trade Advisor, Ministry of Textiles, GOI emphasized the need for certification and how the government can help in this aspect. She also said AEPC should come up with a blueprint of how this certification will be done which will help the smaller companies attach value and ensure thrust in the global market.

Ms. Roop Rashi Mahapatra, Textile Commissioner, GOI highlighted the importance of the funds in meeting the sustainability standards. She also applauded the AEPC initiative and advised AEPC to see how these sustainability initiatives can be embraced by the garment industry. Further she said, the next few years will be revolutionary for the planet as there will be a lot of emphasis on sustainability.

Mr. Sudhir Sekhri, Vice Chairman, AEPC, in the address said, “I am very proud that AEPC has launched this initiative with the support from the Ministry of Textiles. Need of the time is immediate attention to environmental compliance. Today we heard experts across stakeholders gathered here to address problem areas waste management, including chemical optimization and treatment, Zero liquid discharge, traceability, usage of renewable energy, wastewater management etc. finally gearing forward to draft a strategic road map to create a suitable ecosystem to promote sustainability at a national level.”

Mr. Gautam Nair, Chairman, Export Promotion, AEPC said, “Sustainability which has become one of the most important concerns of the global buyers apart from just being price and quality cautious. We can incorporate sustainability across three parameters which we call ESG including efforts that we can take for the environmental front, social and governance. While India has moved quite a bit on the social compliance front tackling issues on child and forced labour, etc, what needs our immediate attention is the Environmental compliance.”

Global brands and auditing agencies like PVH, M&S, Target, Reverse Resources, Fashion for Good, etc.  unequivocally advocated their growing drive towards sustainability and advised suppliers to take smaller steps to begin the journey.

AEPC also released A compendium during the conclave.  Companies included in the Sustainability Compendium will be showcased on the dedicated Sustainability Social Media Platform for wide publicity and will finally culminate as Sustainability Awards.

The Award-winning Indian companies will finally get an opportunity to showcase their collection in specially curated “Sustainability Corner” of India Pavilion in 2023 “Pure London, UK and “Who’s Next”, Paris, the World’s Biggest Fashion Hub.

Chairman AEPC in his final remark emphasized, “My final words to my industry members is, from now on the motto should be “Compliance first, Business next”.

The garment manufacturing companies and agencies also got an opportunity to showcase their efforts in the area of sustainability during the conclave. The participating companies included, SNQS, Poppys, ITC RMG, Shahi, Sulochna, TUV, Tirupur cluster, HOS Services, Only good, etc.