It is being said that kidswear is one of the most profitable segments in the global apparel industry today, which was not even affected by the meltdown of the global economy. TechNavio’s analysts forecast the baby clothing market in the US to grow at a CAGR of 2.67 per cent during the period 2014-2019.
In an exclusive interview with Apparel Resources, Sujeewa Indika Wanigabaduge, Chief Operating Officer-Utah Fashions Limited, explains his perspective on kidswear as a product category and what he thinks about its future.
Incepted in 1984, Utah Group is one of the leading vertically-integrated apparel manufacturing companies of the country with its very own spinning, knitting, dyeing, finishing, manufacturing, washing, printing and embroidery facilities, all under one roof.
Catering mainly to the European retailers and brands like H&M, Tesco, JCPenney, US Polo, s.Oliver, Carters, Mango, Next, Debenhams, etc. in various product categories, kidswear holds a very important position in Utah’s line of products.
AR: What are the reasons for kidswears’ insulation to market conditions?
Indika: Yes, it’s a fact that kidswear segment is the least affected category and the reasons for this are because of the diverse variations of products in kidswear, wider product range, lesser price quotient compared to other categories and also because kidswear items have more priority amongst the consumers.
AR: How has the demand for kidswear been in the recent years?
Indika: In the recent years, the demand of kidswear has definitely increased in our factory. Previously orders came with less quantity but the order quantities have also increased now and there is continuation of round-the-year orders.
As per the statistics, the yearly quantity is increasing gradually for kids’ items and we are expecting more orders in future. For satisfying the customers’ requirement, we are also developing the systems through many Kaizans so that we can maintain the optimum quality.
AR: Can you brief us about Utah’s value-additions in kidswear?
Indika: In Utah, we do value-additions through in-house printing, in-house embroidery, laser cutting and laser embroidery, etc.
Also the chemicals that we use for printing kidswear are totally free from hazardous substances.
AR: Is kidswear a difficult product category?
Indika: We cannot say that working with kidswear is difficult, but yes while doing kidswear, we need to be more careful and also need to do a lot of testing to avoid all possible hazards. We have to work more closely in kidswear than other product categories for maintaining the product safety and quality. Higher sensitivity is also required to handle kidswear.
AR: What, according to you, is the most difficult safety parameter for kidswear?
Indika: In our factory, we are mostly focusing on product safety and quality standard of kidswear and other products as well. We have separate product safety teams which are working on each and every product from the beginning to the end product.
According to me, controlling the metal parts is the most critical aspect of kidswear. But as we are well aware of this issue, maintaining the broken needle procedure is very strictly followed by educating the team on daily/weekly basis. If any broken needle part is found missing, garment parts of six nearby machines from the machine concerned are passed through the metal detection machine to ensure that there is no metal part attached with any of the garment panels. Also, all the garments are passed through metal detection machine (200% times) to maintain optimum product safety.
AR: Which are the products that are in demand in kidswear?
Indika: The demand of products varies from buyer to buyer. For H&M, long pants, short pants, tops, t-shirts, swim shorts, trousers and skirts are more in demand while talking about Carter’s, the focus is on shirts, leggings, short pants, crewneck T-shirts, girls’ frocks, skirts, etc., and for Tesco, long pants, short pants, leggings, skirts, T-shirts, polo’s, girls’ frocks, dungarees, tops etc., are in demand.
AR: Which are the stores/brands that are increasing sourcing of kidswear from Bangladesh?
Indika: Carter’s, H&M, Tesco, s.Oliver, Next are amongst many of the big names who have increased sourcing of kidswear from the country.