ANITA JILANI is
a senior partner in an Apparel import company in the Fashion district of
New York. She has extensive knowledge of international apparel industry,
market trends and customer preferences.
Her diversified expertise in production sourcing and
merchandising has provide her an insight to be able to form productive
working relationships with manufacture from various parts of the globe
like China, South Africa, Swaziland, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri
Lanka, Turkey and Jordan. She started her career as a technical
assistant for a local production house and quickly rose to head the
department. Playing key role in company reorganization by splitting
sales and sourcing functions, revitalizing product mix, improving
merchandizing strategies, and reorganizing territories, conceptualize
merchandise and supervise new product lines, research new fashion
trends. Since then single handedly dealing with companies like Macy's,
Dillards, Saks and Nieman Marcus and so many other private brands.
us something about the textile industry in USA?
were considered a backbone of any economy before the emergence of
industries like automobiles, information technology and aviation.
Textiles still play a significant role in our daily lives. In addition
to our clothing, homes, and work places, many areas of our lives depend
on textiles. In 2002, world trade in textiles was worth approximately
$371 billion, or about 6.6% of global merchandise trade. The textile
industry has a long history in the United States, dating back to the
beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The US textile industry of today
has changed significantly over the past 20 years. The industry is now
high-tech and globally competitive. US have increasingly relied on
low-cost production countries to cater to its manufactured textile needs
although US is still among the top three producers of raw cotton.
Textiles and apparel are responsible for about 20 percent of the US
trade deficit. Last year, the deficit in textile and apparel trade was
an estimated $52 billion. According to the World Trade Organization (WTO),
in 2002, the US imported $69.1 billion worth of textile goods making it
the largest importer. Exports are around $17 billion.
do you see the future of textile imports to USA after the abolition of
Everyone agrees that China has the capacity to flood the market; it is
unlikely to be in the country's best interest to do so. Under the terms
of China's accession to the WTO in December 2001, WTO members may impose
specific safeguard measures, such as increased tariffs or quotas on
Chinese goods, if the importing country determines that such shipments
from China disrupt or threaten to disrupt the market. Perhaps the most
important reason why China will not flood the market is simple: The US
government still has the power to prevent it.
Although China is expected to become the
"supplier of choice" for most US textile and apparel importers
after 2005, US importers should expand trade relationships with other
low-cost countries, such as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, to reduce
the risk of sourcing from only one country.
Smart companies are focusing more on their fabric
resources, custom issues, social responsibility, labor and logistics.
Any one of these dynamics could help define the new competitive edge of
the textile and apparel company in the post-2005 world.
Although China will take large parts of the US
apparel market in the post-quota period, other countries such as
Pakistan and India may be considered as serious challengers. China will
undergo its share of tough times during the 2004 production year. Quotas
are going to cripple its exports, as prices are expected to be high.
are the problems faced by the Pakistani garment industry?
is considered an important component of the world textile trade because
it produces close to 11% of world production. Any disruption in its
production due to bad weather or a bad crop adversely affects the future
cotton contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Cotton buyers use
future contracts to attain predictable raw material pricing. In last two
decades Pakistan has progressively moved from exporting raw cotton to
finished products. Cotton and textile products constitute over 65% share
of the total exports, which also speaks for its importance for Pakistan.
Is the industry ready for global competition? I don't think so. First of
all we are catering to low end of the market. Secondly, large numbers of
our spinning mills still produce coarse count of fiber, which is, not
suitable for high-end production and requires further processing. We
lack expertise in other areas like designing and branding. India and
China have progressed well in this area by joining hands with leading
brands. We also lack investments in logistics to provide value in the
delivery chain. Chinese manufacturers operating from Hong Kong are
leading this trend. They increasingly providing value proposition to
their buyers by assuming logistics responsibilities to institute just in
time concept in textiles.
the quality matrix where does Pakistani products stand in the US
ground rules of manufacturing have changed. The large scale, mass
production methods that brought the world great prosperity over the last
50 years will no longer ensure future competitiveness. Customers demand
high quality, competitive prices, a wide selection of products, and
quick responses to changing needs. Consequently, the textile industry is
undergoing a dramatic transition from the mass production model of the
past to the agile manufacturing model of the future. Successful
companies of the future must be able to rapidly and economically produce
large or small quantities of world-class products in response to market
should be the future strategy of garment exporters?
ANITA: We have
to address this question from all fronts. First of all we need insight
into the consumers preferences. We can learn about that by collaborating
with leading design houses in US and Europe. Then we need to invest more
in international marketing by establishing sales offices in world
centers like Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, and London. Third we have to
migrate from low end to high end products. Fourth we have to assume
higher responsibility in the logistics value chain by implementing
technology to ensure timely error free delivery of merchandise.
Increasing number of Chinese manufacturers are providing warehousing
facility to their buyers until the goods are needed. These companies are
also analyzing data and sales patterns to arrive at the optimum
inventory level for their customers.
The future will require entirely new manufacturing
processes that can switch from product to product with zero waste,
whether it is spinning fibers or dyeing fabric. Success will require
technologies that enable companies to make small quantities of apparel,
even custom apparel, at the cost of bulk-produced items. Greater
environmental stewardship will be achieved through technologies that
minimize use of natural resources and discharge no net waste to the
environment. Buyers are looking for one stop shop.
of our population is female but still we don't see many female
professionals in the market. What is your opinion on that?
ANITA: In my
opinion the country cannot progress until all of us work hard both men
and women. In developed countries there are some functions that are
dominated by women like personnel management, market/stock analysis,
designing and merchandising, and real state sales. These functions are
best suited to the physical and psychological stature of women.
Unfortunately in Pakistan in some large cities like Peshawar, Quetta,
Faisalabad and Sukkur, it is still next to impossible for women to get
out of their homes and become productive members of the society. In last
decade the environment for female workers have improved a lot in cities
like Karachi and Lahore. But we are still living in primitive times when
it comes to allowing women to work. If we are really patriotic we need
to encourage our women to be our partners in progress.
there many Pakistani women in this field in New York?
no. There is only handful of female senior executives of Pakistan
origin. One reason India and China is getting a lot of business from US
is the presence of buyers from these countries. We need to facilitate
hiring of Pakistani merchandisers by US brands.