The 69th edition of National Garment Fair, held from July 15 to 18, 2019, at the Bombay Exhibition Center, Mumbai hosted over 1,000 exhibitors representing around 1,100 brands. “This is a huge growth from the first NGF which had only 17 participants,” says Rahul Mehta, President, CMAI-organiser of the fair. Terming this entire journey as a fascinating one, Mehta recalls, “Earlier, brands didn’t go to the market for selling products. They considered it below their dignity to participate in an exhibition like this to seek customers. However, the younger generation, realises the importance of reaching out to customers, integral to brand building.”
Increasing competition among brands has also pushed up the number of participants at NGF. As Mehta notes, “Ten years ago, readymade garments were available only at large stores which made it easier for agents to interact with retailers. The number of retailers was also limited with only one retailer per city. Today, readymade garments are available in remote towns with a single street housing over 10 dealers.” This makes reaching out to every customer difficult in terms of expense and logistics.
NGF: Evolving over the years
With growing popularity, the CMAI took a significant decision to move the fair from a hotel to an open ground. As Mehta points out, “The fair has grown in stature and size. There was a time when we couldn’t fill even one hall at NSC. Now, we occupy every available inch of the exhibition complex.” For convenience, the halls are categorised based on products: men’s wear, women’s wear, children’s wear et al. The aesthetics at this year’s edition was also a major focus. “Earlier, stalls would outdo each other with ostentatious displays. Now, we provide a uniform outer display. We have also imposed restrictions like no carpentry, no nails and hammers,” Mehta informs.
Another significant addition is hosting two or three lounges at every hall with a GPS-led stall locator. “We also set up a few cafeterias for exhibitors and visitors,” adds Mehta. Growing support from large brands
Earlier, only small manufacturers participated in the National Garment Fair. Now, CMAI has persuaded large brands to participate as well. “However, their booking cycle begins three months earlier. So, this fair doesn’t really lead any additional business for them,” reveals Mehta. But large brands use the fair as a branding platform to showcase their products which attracts a lot of attention. What’s more, they also organise fashion shows in various halls.
Two large corporate viz, Bestseller and Siyaram, participated this year. Bestseller launched new products and Levi’s launched its latest offering ‘Denison’. “When brands/retailers like Pepe or Bestseller launch a new brand, they cater to an important segment.”
Growing significance of online channels
Mehta believes, online channels are preferred for disposal of stocks. “Though large format stores are necessary they are hardly popular. “Online registration is growing,” says Mehta. “Last year, we saw 10,000 online registrations. This year, the number is likely to increase to 12,000 or 15,000.” Mehta opines, online channel helps manage crowd and prevents visitors from waiting in line for hours for registration.
Talking about current market scenario, “Markets are sluggish owing to continuous discounts by brands. Imports from Bangladesh are resulting in a loss of nearly 10 lakh new jobs every year.” concludes Mehta.