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Arrow and the Apparel Industry

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Ten years ago, Arvind Clothing Ltd., a

subsidiary of Arvind Brands Ltd., a member

of the Ahmedabad based Lalbhai Group,

signed up with the 159-year old 'Arrow

Compar:y, a division of Cluett Peabody &

Co. Inc., US, for licensed manufacture of

Arrow Shirts in India. What this brought to

India was not just another premium dress shirt

brand but new manufacturing philosophy to its

garment industry which combined high productivity,

stringent in-line quality control, and a conducive

factory ambience.

Arrow's first plant, with a 55,000 sq. ft. area

and capacity to make 3,000 to 4,000 shirts a day,

was established at Bangalore in 1993 with an

investment of Rs 18 crore. The conditions insidewith

good lighting on the workbenches, high

ceilings, ample elbow room for each worker, and

plenty of ventilation, were a decided contrast to

the poky, crowded, and confined sweCltshops

characterising the usual Indian apparel factory in

those days. It employed a computer system for

translating the designed shirt's dimensions to

automatically mark the master pattern for initial

cutting of the fabric layers. This was installed, not

to save labour but to ensure cutting accuracy and

low wastage of cloth.

The over two-dozen quality checkpoints during

the conversion of fabric to finished shirt was unique

to the industry. It is among the very few plants in

the world that makes shirts with 2 ply 140s ~nd 3

ply 100s cotton fabrics using 16 to 18 stitches per

inch. In March 2003, the Bangalore plant couid

produce stain-repellant shirts based on


The reputation of this plant has spread far and

wide and now it is loaded mostly with export orders

from renowned global brands such as GAP, Next,

Espiri, and the like. Recently the plant was identified

by Tommy Hilfiger to make its brand of shirts for

the Indian market. As a result, Arvind Brands has

had to take over four other factories in Bangalore

on wet lease to make the Arrow brand of garments

for the domestic market.

In fact, the demand pressure frorn"global brands

which want to outsource from Arvind Brands, is so

great that the company has had to set up another

large factory for export jobs on the outskirts of

Bangalore. The new unit of 75,000 sq. ft. has cost

Rs 16 crore and can turn out 8,000 to 9,000 shirts

per day. The technical collaborators are the

renowned C&F Italia of Italy.

Among the cutting edge technologies deployed

here are a Gerber make CNC fabric cutting

machine, automatic collar and cuff stitching

machines, pneumatic holding for tasks like shoulder

joining, threat trimming and bottom hemming, a

special machine to attach and edge stitch the back

yoke, foam finishers which use air and steam to

remove creases in the finished garment, and many

others. The stitching machines in this plant can

deliver up to 25 stitches per inch. A continuous

monitoring of the production process in the entire

factory is done through a computerised apparel

production management system, which is hooked

to every machine. Because of the use of such

technology, this plant will need only 800 persons

for a capacity which is three times that of the first

plant which employs 580 persons.

Exports of garments made for global brands

fetched Arvind Brands over Rs 60 crore in 2002,

and this can double in the next few years, when the

new factory goes on full stream. In fact, with the

lifting of the country-wise quota regime in 2005,

there will be a surge in demand for high quality

garments from India and Arvind is already

considering setting up 'two more such high tech




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