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‘Digital platform is the future of apparel’

Umrao Sher Singh Uppal started his career in 1993 in India as a marketing executive. With his leadership skill and dedication, he attained the top positions. From the local market to international top brands, Uppal has versatile experience. He also worked with sportswear brands like Adidas, Nike, Decathlon, Puma, etc. and joined in Silver Line Group in 2017 as Chief Marketing Officer.

Umrao Sher Singh Uppal recently shared his thoughts on how the digital platforms will be the immediate future for the apparel industry with Textile Today along with many other issues. Some of the highlighting parts have been discussed here for our readers.

Umrao-Sher-Singh-Uppal-CMO-Silver-Line
Figure: Umrao Sher Singh Uppal, Chief Marketing Officer, Silver Line Group.

Textile Today: While the current disruption in the global supply chain for garments caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic poses many challenges, it can be an opportunity for Bangladesh. How?

Umrao Sher Singh Uppal: COVID-19 is a global phenomenon. When we talk about its impact on the apparel industry or the effects Bangladesh facing, we witnessed that in the first few months the apparel consumption has been less and order put on hold or canceled. But fundamentally, in the long run, there will a change in the fashion apparel – the previous volume was driven model will no longer exist.

Most of the brands are looking for something new, value-added functions with quantity in Bangladesh. Quality will be the dominant mainstream in this apparel industry.

And Bangladesh has the industrial capacity to deliver this new demand. From its identity of producing basic apparel, now the country produces top-class innovative apparel products. And all the top brands to niche brands from diversified countries make apparel from Bangladesh – which reflects how good we are.

After the lockdown period in April, orders are coming back in good numbers and the apparel export is catching up again. Though there was initial fear among the readymade garment manufacturers, it is no more.

Textile Today: When all the traditional marketing ways are almost stopped, in this scenario, how do you see the scopes of alternative marketing i.e. utilizing established platforms like Alibaba, Amazon?

Umrao Sher Singh Uppal: The buyers have been in the digital format for a very long time. Rather we are now in digital. And the COVID-19 pandemic has made us learn in digital formats.

This is going to be the new normal i.e. doing apparel business in e-commerce. Every brand in the pandemic has been doing sales on online platforms like Alibaba, Amazon, etc. Buyers are also really happy to do business online instead of physical stores. For physical stores brands needed to bear heavy liabilities that they do not have online. As consumers spend less time going to physical fashion apparel stores to buy with their busy schedules. Leading brand Zara is a great example, it closed al of its stores in lockdown and moved to e-commerce.

Additionally, virtual showroom experience, and return product if it is not suitable to have greatly increased consumers’ reliance on digital. I will say, this move will be the immediate future.

On the plus side for fabric and apparel manufacturers – previously we had to move around to many parts of the world to attend international exhibitions. Now, the exhibitions are also happening virtually. Previously a store in an international exhibition would not have that many attendance and sale was not that high.

Silver Line Group is participating in the F2F Sourcing Show 2020 – the F2F Sourcing Show 2020 is a unique Virtual Trade Expo that will bring together leading manufacturers and importers of the textile and apparel sector under one roof. With no hassles of travel or accommodation – out store already got 500 entries coming onto Silver Line Group’s virtual store to see our products. This is the new normal, as people do not have time to go to North America for an exhibition. Silver Line Group is also the platinum sponsor of this F2F Sourcing Show 2020.

Silver Line Group is participating in the F2F Sourcing Show 2020 – the F2F Sourcing Show 2020 is a unique Virtual Trade Expo that will bring together leading manufacturers and importers of the textile and apparel sector under one roof. With no hassles of travel or accommodation – out store already got 500 entries coming onto Silver Line Group’s virtual store to see our products. This is the new normal, as people do not have time to go to North America for an exhibition. Silver Line Group is also the platinum sponsor of this F2F Sourcing Show 2020.

For Bangladesh textile and apparel industry, due to the online facility, a lot of products and brand exposure can be done sitting in the office or home. Which is crucial for creating a global brand image. In my instance, in the last five months, I have not moved out of my office. But I am doing all the marketing using digital.

Textile Today: What types of products are you making? What are the new product ranges you are working with? Or is there any plan for going to a new product range? What should be the consideration to start any new product range?

Umrao Sher Singh Uppal: Silver Composite Textile Mills is one of the top players – not only in Bangladesh – but in the global arena, in terms of producing innovative fabric production. In the last three years, we have grown 100%, and even after the COVID-19 shutdown, we are growing exponentially. Offering diversified functional products range from premium to niche brands is the secret key to Silver Composite Textile Mills’ success. None of our capacity sat idle due to this.

Any new type of fabric you name, we are doing it. Our R&D team is working constantly to create any new product incorporating the latest innovations from the USA or Europe. Buyers now believe in Silver Line. They come to me and ask “What is new?” and every time I have something new for them. As a result, we have grown in every six months.

Textile Today: How does the order cancellation or suspension impact your business? How is the recent order flow going on? Do you have enough orders for the upcoming new seasons?

Umrao Sher Singh Uppal: Initially the 45-day lockdown hurt tremendously to all apparel manufacturers. 25 to 30% of our orders got canceled. But we strongly bargained with buyers that we comply with all the sustainable and ethical norms of business from our side with bearing the extra cost. But from your side, you cannot cancel the order.

And on God’s will, we are very happy that 95% of out canceled orders have been restored. And after restarting, we are growing at a good pace. Buyers and orders are flowing in abundantly. I see a very good future in the coming years.

As for the local mills who are suffering, I will express this message that if you do new innovative fabric development with quality and quantity buyers must have to come to you.

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