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NATIONAL CONCLAVE ON SPORTECH- “The Future of Sport Textiles & Accessories Industry in India”

Published: June 20, 2023
Author: TEXTILE VALUE CHAIN

 on 2nd June 2023 at Hotel Shangri-La Eros, New Delhi”

Wool Research Association (WRA) and Indian Technical Textile Association (ITTA) along organised the NATIONAL CONCLAVE ON SPORTECH- “The Future of Sport Textiles & Accessories Industry in India”. The conclave was held on 2 nd June 2023 from 9:30am to 5 pm. More than 200 participants from Textile and Technical Textile Industries, Institutions, Faculties, Research Scholars and students, were benefited out of the event.

Smt. Darshana Jardosh Hon’ble Minister of State for Textiles & Railways, GoI, and Guest of honour of the conclave in his inaugural address spoke about the Technical Textile Industry and its Growth and Challenges. She emphasized the penetration of Technical Textiles in India which is very less compared to First-World Countries. She stressed the importance of becoming net Exporters of Technical Textiles in the world and guided the attendees on the same. She emphasized on the matter of marketing stating that, “Production is not a problem Marketing is a problem.”

Smt. Rachna Shah is an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and a  Secretary in the Ministry of Textiles. She is an officer of the batch1991. She is currently serving as an additional secretary with the department of commerce. Born in Uttar Pradesh, she is a post-graduate in business economics from Delhi University. She has experience of working in ministries like science and technology, corporate affairs, etc.

Ms. Roop Rashi IA&AS Textile Commissioner, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, Chief Guest of the webinar in her special address stressed the importance of Technical Textiles in the future of India. She motivated Industries to become self-reliant, especially in the Sportech segment as we do a lot of import for this sector. She suggested that industries and various sports boards should come together and discuss product development, and the needs of the consumer.

Shri. Amit Agarwal Chairman-ITTA in his welcome address discussed ITTA’s vision for the Technical Textile business in India. He also mentioned the Policy Initiatives on Technical Textiles introduced by the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.

Shri. K. K. Misra, Director (O) and COO of the WRA welcomed all the attendees and panellists on the behalf of organizing team. He briefed audience about work done at WRA and elaborated on the collaboration with ITTA and other industries for Sportech Sector.

Technical Session one was based on Market size, Gaps, Experience and Expectations of consumers towards adoption of Indian Sports Textiles. This session will deliberate ways to unlock the requirements & experience of Indian Sportech consumers like Sports Authority of India, Sports Associations, SGEPC, Mountaineering Institutes, Leisure Sport Agencies, etc. In this session it was discussed about the uplift the whole ecosystem of Indian sports textiles from Gap analysis done by WRA, market size assessment by Invest India & other organisations. Opportunities in producing Products used in Mountaineering & Leisure Sports, which are currently imported.

The moderator in the first technical session was Ms. Bhavna Rathee, Assistant Vice President, Invest India. She started with the presentation on Market size and opportunities for the textile sector. Textiles Industry on a way to become a Global Manufacturing Hub with the market size USD 154 Bn (2021-22) and is supposed to increase by more 150 billion (2030).

India is one of the largest producers of Cotton, Jute, Silk, and Polyester. It is 2nd Largest  manufacturer of Textiles and Apparel (T&A) in the World. She discussed about Production Linked Incentive or PLI scheme which is a scheme that aims to give companies incentives on incremental sales from products manufactured in domestic units. Growth opportunities in Sportech in the areas of Performance Sportswear, Smart Wearables, Modern Sport Infrastructure, Sports Composite & Protective Gears, Sustainable Textiles.

Ms. Bhavna stated her views on India’s textile production numbers, “With 100 billion dollars in exports, the textile market in India, which is currently about 154 billion, is expected to reach 250 billion by 2030. 100% FDI is authorised in the sector, and over the last 22 years, FDI has totalled close to 4 billion USD, which was our highest-ever export volume of $44.4 billion. We are a major producer of polyester, jute, silk, and cotton. The world’s second largest producer of textiles and apparel also happens to be the third-largest exporter of these goods. We provide 7% of manufacturing output, 5% of global trade, 11% of export revenue, and 2.3% of GDP. Be it yarn, fabric, or apparel, production capacity has been steadily rising, and we have seen an increase in foreign direct investment from nations like Japan, Singapore, the Netherlands, Cypress, and the United States that has nearly doubled over time. Speaking of the technical textile market, it represents between 12% and 15% of the Indian textile value chain and has a total global market value of 280 billion. Thanks to the efforts of the National Technical Technology Mission, it is one of India’s emerging industries and is estimated to have an 8% worldwide market share and 20% growth. By 2025, we hope to reach a 42-billion-dollar Indian market. The graph shows that both exports and imports are increasing.

We’ll discuss the government initiatives that have been implemented to give the sector the
much-needed push after establishing the context of the textile and technological textiles sectors in India. The recently unveiled PM Mitra Pradhan Mantri mega integrated textile region and apparel programme calls for the construction of parks with a minimum of 1000 acres of world-class infrastructure and plug-and-play amenities. We hope to attract huge foreign and domestic investment to the tune of 70,000 Crores and help in efficient logistics with reduced time and cost. Other offerings include dedicated high-power grid, reduced industry fragmentation where we integrate the entire textiles industry into one place, pre approvals with one click at the national single window system and sustainable and circular business models. The parks have been set up in the states of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. The production linked incentive scheme is another flagship scheme wherein we are moving away from subsidy based to performance-based strategy. The scheme focuses on MMF manmade fibre, fabrics, apparel and technical textiles with 50 HS codes of MMF apparel, 42 HS codes of fabric and 91 HS codes of technical textiles. 60 plus projects were approved and close to 2183 crore of investment has already been made under the PLI scheme. We hope that the total proposed investments would reach about 19,000 crore with employment of about 2.45 lakh and more.”

Coming to the sport tech industry now, the key segments of sport tech include footwear components, artificial turf grass, sports composite, tents, performance swimwear, sports nets, parachute fabrics, sports twigs, sleeping bags and ballooning fabric. The global market is set at about 32.9 USD billion wherein the domestic market is at a meagre 1.5 billion US dollars. We exported about 44 million and imported about 23.4 million. The key markets for sportech are UK, USA, Australia, Germany and South Africa. So, what is India’s investment in FDI opportunity in the sport tech segment? There’s an increasing demand for sports and fitness products due to growing interest in fitness and sports activities. People are looking for sportswear that offers enhanced comfort but also has a lot of performance characteristics.

There’s a rising awareness of performance enhancements wherein people are looking at lightweight materials, textiles with moisture wicking properties. There are a lot of government initiatives which have been undertaken, for example focus on promoting scale sports, for example under the Khelo India initiative, use of advanced technical textiles for improving the sports infrastructure. Dwelling a bit deeper, the trends and opportunities in sport tech include performance wear wherein you can look at footwear, high performance sportswear which comprise  of advanced fabrics with moisture, breathability, durability, smart wearable with sensors and electronics for real time data tracking, modern sport infrastructure that needs to requirements for turf, seating, flooring and tents, sports composites and protective gears including helmets, padding, compression garments, mountaineering gears and development of sustainable textiles wherein world across people are focusing on making the entire sector more sustainable and circular we have the Khelo India Youth Games, the Khelo India University Games, the National Games in Surat and the Fit India program wherein internationally we are participating and doing well in FIFA, the Chess Olympiad, Commonwealth Games, Thomas Cup and upcoming 90 nation games and Summer Olympics which we will be participating in. The government has also launched a number of schemes which we just discussed about. Khelo India Olympic podium is setting up 235 academies to train in 21 sports disciplines and a number of sports infrastructure projects have also been undertaken. For example, 267 sports projects to strengthen the sports infrastructure, 1000  Khelo India centres are being set up and 500 private academies are being set up in partnership with the national sports federations. So as evident, we have well established manufacturing capabilities, we have competitive cost of manufacturing, we have skilled and educated workforce and growing sports market in India.

However, we do face challenges, the limited awareness and adoption of technical textiles in sports, there is limited investment in R&D, there is unavailability of ready infrastructure, we face threats in terms of competition from established players especially the neighbouring countries, rapidly changing technology, constantly evolving trends and increasing environmental concerns. Just giving a quick snapshot of two cases that Invest India has supported. One was a large footwear manufacturer who has, in fact we have a testimonial as well, who is present in Tamil Nadu since 2006. It has 100 % export, it has set up 100 % export-oriented units, 200 plus million USD has already been grounded and a number of projects were set up be it greenfield projects or expansion projects with employment of 25,000 plus successfully being generated in the country. Another FTI case is an important footwear supplier which supplies to the key brands in footwear. It supplies to one of the largest global footwear brands. It's a 100 % export-oriented unit in Andhra Pradesh and again the testimonial showcases the confidence that the foreign investors have in India as an investment destination.”

In the first session Shiv Prakash Singh, Managing Director Naresh Sports Pvt. Ltd. He has discussed about the digital era which is showcased after the pandemic. Considering the digital area, people are spending more time on E-commerce rather than their personal time. Before pandemic there were only few international sportswear brands but after pandemic new Indian Sportswear Brands were showcased in market.

Mr. Shiv Prakash Singh stated his views on Indian Market, “India is a nation of sports, watchers not players. And especially after the pandemic happened, there is a birth of a plethora of leisure brands which have come up. And people have started becoming more conscious about being healthy, doing daily exercise, and going to gyms. And one more thing which has happened is that with the dawn of the digital era, a lot of shopping has now gone to the digital channels. Though there is a challenge in terms of selling online on e-commerce platforms, which neither the platforms make money nor the brands actually selling on these platforms make money. But it’s a devil in the room. You have to adapt it. And that is how this is going. The Indian sports market was clearly dominated by international brands like Nike, Reebok, Adidas, and Puma. But now, if you see, there are a plethora of Indian brands which have come up post -pandemic. And these are basically athleisure brands, which mean that there is a slow death of formal wear which is happening. People want to go to casual wear.

The line of distinction between sportswear and fashion is not only blurring, it is disappearing. So, people prefer sportswear throughout the day. It’s an all -day fashion now. So, these are very, very big substantial changes in the consumer mind, in the consumer behaviour which has happened post-COVID.”

Further the moderator introduced the speaker Dr. N. Mohan, Director and CEO, Kothari Industrial Corp. Ltd. He has introduced the relevance of textile in footwear industry. He had discussed about the global footwear market which is around 24.3billion pairs. While the Indian market for footwear industry is around 2.6billion pairs. China produces more than half of all shoes despite decreasing trend in favour of other Asian countries. India has reinforced its position as world’s 2nd largest footwear manufacturer in 2021.He has also discussed about the opportunities for Indian footwear industry which includes evolution of high-performance textiles and their use in shoe designs, smart textiles and their relevance in shoe designs

Mr. Mohan stated the opportunities in the Footwear and Textiles industry, “The footwear market globally, it’s about 24.2 billion pairs pre -pandemic. And that’s what it is about in 2019. And after pandemic, it went down to, say, about 20.5. And it’s about 21.2 billion pairs is what is consumed around the world. And approximately 50 % of that production is rubber and moulded footwear. Another 33 % is textile -based footwear. And leather is about 15 %. I’m going by the number of pairs sold across the world. And so, there is a huge potential. India is the second largest consumer of footwear in the world. And we are growing. The global average is about 2.6 % to 2.8 % footwear growth. Whereas India as a country, we are growing at 8 %to 9 %. So, there is a huge opportunity in India. the researchers tell us, which I’m going to cover it in the other session, the researchers tell us that India will soon become the number one consumer in the world by 2030. And if you consider the population growth in seven years, we will be consuming close to six billion pairs. And sports, which is at about 13 % in this country today, has a phenomenal opportunity to go up to, say, about 25 % to 30 % in line with what is happening around the globe.”

Shri Amit Jain, Managing Director Shingora Textiles, has completed his degree on textiles major and business minor from the University of Kentucky. He started an advanced materials division called Express Expertex within Shingora Textiles. This is a forward thinking and highly focused area of specialized performance Technical Textiles. This division has been at the forefront of various collaborations with DRDO. He takes active part in the activities of CII Punjab State Council.

Shri R. Selvam, Executive Director Council for Leather Exports, He joined IS in 2001 has been allotted to the Himachal Pradesh. Kader recently joined as Executive Director Council for Leather Exposed Chennai in April 2018. He served in the ministry of Home Affairs, ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers and Ministry of Commerce and Industry. He has been successfully implementing several State and Government of India programs. He also significantly involved in framing new Pharma pricing policy, new Uria investment policy and various other policy making issues at the national level.

Mr. Selvam stated the market opportunities in footwear industry, “We (India) are very strong in leather footwear and the exports also, if you look at the industry size, leather footwear and leather product, everything put together, $18 billion. After that, 6 billion we are exporting and 12 billion we are domestic production. Out of this one, around 10 billion domestic production itself involves footwear alone. One is footwear with the textile uppers. Another one is the rubber and moulded upper. And third one is with the leather uppers, the leather uppers, it comes around 60 billion. And combining the other two categories it is a market share of around 80 billion. There is a very big scope to switch over from the moulded rubber and even leather to textile rubbers.

There is a huge demand that is the existing industry. And there is also a need to produce another 2 billion pairs. India’s average consumption is 1.9 pairs per year. So, the global average is three pairs. And, if you look at this average, we need another 2.5 billion in next four to five years. If you look at that figure also, there is a huge demand. We (India) export around 2.6 billion in the leather uppers that are leather footwear. Taking about the leather or even any sector there are two major issues even the western world we market our product more than 50% goes to European, another 15% goes to America and other parts. Coming to the sustainability issues even Leather Sector what we are doing we are replacing the biochemical and chemicals with the enzymes, also we are replacing the metals in the tanning process with the biodegradable materials even during the post process. Also, we are using polysaccharides as a replacement for the petroleum based raw materials. The CEOs of two large global multinational have committed that the next five years, 20% of the global sourcing should come from India. One is a 250 million pair brand; another is 180 million brands. And which is going to go to say about 220 million in seven years. That means look at the opportunity. Absolutely 100 million pairs. Straight away, we lad in the country.”

Smt. Subhra Agarwal, Trade Advisor, Ministry of Textiles, is an officer from 1989 India Trade Service had joined Ministry of Textiles as trade advisor in the month of December 2021. Before joining the Ministry of Textiles, she was with Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. As the trade advisor. Smt. Shubra is responsible for textile trade promotion. She is well versed with the various policy matters and sustainability targets.

Smt. Subhra stated the increase in the exports of textiles, “We (India) have been growing at the rate of 40% in exports. And with a target of 100 billion, in exports by 2030, in which the technical textile are going to contribute at least 10 billion to our 100 billion target. The National Textile
Mission has come into a very important role because it is focusing largely on R& D. So, the  basic cotton is not going to serve the purpose. So, you need to have a much more treated coated
texturized and all kinds of cotton and its blends. And again, for the new advanced development of
fibres, NTTM is creating lot of awareness. Because government is not only in subsidies. We do not talk in terms of subsidies at all. So, we try to create an ecosystem with industrial atmosphere.

In our team we have developed a very extensive kind of a tool, we like to call it a C Seven approach, where we start with the countries which are having major imports from there, then what are they importing commodity wise? How are we relatively relative comparison how competitive we are from then to what we are manufacturing, where then we go back to the level of cluster where they are manufacturing and, in that cluster, what intervention can there be so like that and the costing of it. So, there are seven C's which my team has beautifully put together.”

Ms. Aparajita Saini, Manager Start up India, is a manager at the Startup India. At Startup India works closely with the State and the Union Territory Nodal Department of Startups in order to ensure a cohesive support to the Startup ecosystem. Previously, she was managing various sectors including infrastructure and logistics, automobile and electric mobility at Agne Mission housed at Invest India. Before joining Invest India Ms Aparajita has worked in private sector in investment banking and tourism and hospitality.

Ms. Aparajita stated the ecosystem is being created in the industry, “More than 50% of these startups are coming from tier two, tier three cities of India. So, it's not just about what kind of
innovation happening, I just want to establish the fact that it's happening across the country and. I think about 66% of the sports sector startups in India are using technology as a medium to build their propositions to build their businesses, be it products or services. So sportech industry as a part of sports industry in the startup ecosystem is quite prominent and we are now seeing innovations coming up wherein startups are using artificial intelligence, cutting in technologies, virtual reality for building more of an interactive space or interactive ecosystem”

Technical Session Two on Sports Goods and Accessories: Coated fabrics, Nets, Leather and Rubber Products. This session will cover the products falling under Sports Goods and Accessories, its Raw materials & Process used to manufacture. Policy related issues on availability of RM, machinery, processes, testing equipment, etc. Current market trends & future growth potentials of various Sportech products and Investment Opportunities.

The moderator of the second session was Dr. Anup Rakshit, Executive Director of Indian Technical Textile Association (ITTA), India. He has over 38 years of experience in the textile industry. He has done his doctorate at the Leeds University, UK (British Council scholarship). Dr Rakshit has worked in various capacities in companies & institutions including Reliance Industries, Bombay Dyeing, JCT Ltd, Bombay Textile Research Association, and Suvin Advisors Pvt Ltd. ITTA is the only association of the technical textile industry in the country. Formation of ITTA was facilitated by office of the Textile Commissioner, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. ITTA membership represents the entire technical textile value chain from raw material to finished goods producers, machinery manufacturers, converters, centers of excellence and R&D institutes.
Mr. Sunil Gupta, Principal Director MSME Technology Development Centre (PPDC), Ministry Of MSME, Govt. Of India. In this session, Sir has expressed his views on alternative solution for the materials to be used in sports textile. PPDC provides Testing of Sports Goods is also of high importance in ascertaining the Quality of Sports Goods. With the development of science and technology, new materials will be recognized and accepted by more people, and the price will also be reduced. At the same time, the application of new materials in sports equipment will become more common. Therefore, while developing competitive sports, the government must attach great importance to the development, modification, and utilisation of new high-tech materials so as to achieve faster and better development of sports. With the increasing demand for individualization, future sports equipment will develop in the direction of personalization and intelligence. At the same time, people will pay more and more attention to environmentally friendly and biodegradable
sports equipment with new materials.

Technical Session Three: Innovations & Research in Composites and Smart Textiles. This session will focus on the latest innovations & future opportunities in Composites and Smart Technology in Sportswear. Raw materials & Process used to manufacture Composite material, Application of Composite materials, 3D Spacer Structures (Inflatable Structures/ PCM Containing Layers Thermal Energy Storage), Raw materials -Conductive Threads and Fabrics used and Current market trends & future growth potentials.

Moderator Dr. Bipin Kumar, Assistant Professor in the Department of Textile Technology at IIT Delhi, India. He is the first recipient from India to be selected for the Fulbright Postdoctoral Program (2013) in the field of Textiles. His main research focuses on smart fibrous/polymeric materials and related fabric structures. With his research outcomes and achievements in textiles, he was selected as the member of advisory council of the Techtextile North America Symposium 2016, a major professional platform focusing on latest technological development and international industry trends in textiles. Currently, he is engaged in research and development of functional textiles for several engineering and medical applications. Major efforts are underway to  commercialize these innovations for various innovative fabric products.

Dr. Sanjay R. Dhakate, Chief Scientist and Head, Advanced Materials Devices & Metrology Division CSIR-NPL. He is working on various forms of carbon materials for structural, energy, and environmental applications, such as carbon fibres, carbon and polymer foams, carbon-carbon composites, ceramic-carbon composite, electro spun polymer, and carbon nanofibers, graphene, graphene oxide-based composites, polymer Nano composites, carbon fibre paper as electrode material and graphite composites bipolar plates for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell, carbon fiber paper-based Infrared heater, new generation carbon nanotubes based for personal body amour materials, activated carbon from waste biomass, and value-added products from coal tar. He has authored or co-authored more than 110 research papers in various International repute journals

Dr. Nandan Kumar, Managing Director at High Performance Textiles Pvt Ltd. The company specializes in processing staple fibre that are further reinforced with multi filament components as per knitting, weaving and braiding needs. He has been involved in the development of commercial products for personal protection, automotive and healthcare market in India.

Shri K. K. Mishra, Director (Officiating) & C.O.O., WRA. Mr. Mishra stated his views on the following, “Awareness of Performance Enhancement, Government Initiatives and Sports Infrastructure Development, Athleisure Trend and Fashion Convergence-commerce Growth
and Online Retail and Export Potential.”

Special Interactive Session with Shri. Rajeev Saxena, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, GoI. He emphasized on sport technical textiles or Sportech to be used for sports purposes. This includes all types of fabrics related to clothing as well as equipment. Some of the key opportunities in sportech were:
• Phase-changing material (PCM) applications in active wears
• Sustainable environmentally friendly sportswear for various applications
• Composites for sports goods like hockey sticks, tennis rackets, badminton rackets, Golf shafts, fishing rods etc.
• Development of Artificial turfs

Technical Session Four – Focusing on Design, Branding, Quality in the Value Chain
This session objective would be on Availability of critical raw materials and other inputs, Problems for availing latest technology for manufacturing sportswear, Hi-tech and Smart Technology in Sportswear, Sustainable solutions to the specific issues & concerns,  Challenges faced in supply chain management, Process aspects, Quality standards required for QCO and Product Certification hurdles for export

 Establish Fibre Bank so that any researcher, any startup company can go and buy some small
quantity of this fibre or fabric and they can do the research work

Moderator Shri. Anjani Kumar Prasad, M.D & Head Business, Archroma India Pvt. Ltd. He was graduated from UDCT Textile Chemistry. He is Chartered colourist and a Lean Six Sigma Champion. he was appointed as the Global Head of New Business development to handle open innovation projects, Alliances, JVs, collaborations for the company and working on new areas of business at Archroma. He was appointed as the Sales head-BPT India in the year 2015 and as a Vice President Cluster India responsible for Textile, Paper and Coatings business. Presently he is the Managing Director of Archroma India. He is also member of various Indian Textiles and Chemical Committees.

Archroma, India provides dyes and specialty chemicals to the performance textiles, packaging and paper, coatings, adhesives and sealants markets. But there’s one solution the firm is focusing on most – turning the chemical industry into a sustainable one.

Dr. Ketankumar Vadodaria, NID, Ahmedabad, He expressed his thoughts on Focusing on Design, Branding, Quality in the Value Chain. Sportech is one of the most promising and technologically driven segments of technical textiles with innovations and advancements in design and  development of sport specific attires. Technological textiles have been able to produce some  materials harder than wood which keep the skin dry, waterproof like rubber and at the same time environmentally friendly and highly profitable. Due to the widespread use of advanced and smart technology in today’s sports textiles, it is becoming possible to produce high quality and high-performance sports garments and the quality of sports textiles is increasing day by day.

Dr. Senthil Kumar Venkatalu Head, Department of fashion technology NIFT, New Delhi. The fashion industry is the second largest industrial polluter after aviation, accounting for up to 10% of global pollution. Global per-capita textile production has increased from 5.9 kg to 13 kg per year over the period 1975–2018. Environmental impacts from the fashion industry. Over 92 million tonnes of waste produced per year, 1.5 trillion litres of water consumed.

The wearable textile products that improve the performance characteristics of the athlete at the moment of activity. When designing a sports product, each detail of the product's material, structural design, and production technique affects the performance characteristics of the product. Sustainable sports textiles refer to textiles or fabrics used in the sports industry that are designed and manufactured with a focus on minimizing environmental impact and promoting social responsibility. These textiles are produced using eco-friendly processes, and often incorporate innovative technologies to enhance performance and durability.

Dr. Mrinal Choudhari, Joint Director, Wool Research Association, Thane. She enlightened the Gap Analysis on Sportech Industry. These high-functional and smart textiles are increasingly adding value to the sports and leisure industry by combining utilitarian functions with wearing comfort that leads to achieving high level of performance.

She highlighted R & D opportunities:
 Manufacturing of Seamless garment and its technical knowhow
 Artificial turf manufacturing as per International Norms of FIFA, Hockey Federation
 Development of knitting technology for fabric using yarn with higher Lycra percentage (Current Knitting technology can utilize the yarn up to15% of Elastomeric yarn content)
 Dyed Nylon 66 knitted fabric with good fastness properties

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