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Monday, February 20, 2012

Tees from Tirupur

Last time when  my younger brother visited me, I happened  to purchase few vests (Banians) for  my personal use. After having looked at the price tags,  he declared that they are available at half the price at his place i.e. Coimbatore. I was a little bit amused but I knew that what he is talking about were the factory outlets. I told him that I will get them when I am at his place. On my return journey from Kerala I happened to stay with him for a fortnight. One day even before I could remind, he casually asked me if I have any plans to purchase vests any more. I replied in the affirmative adding that I would also like to buy few Tees (T Shirts) as they too are said to be cheaper there. He nodded and suggested for a visit to a knitting factory at Tirupur with whom he had friendly connections. Very next day we were on our way.
 
The city of Tirupur with a population of over half a million, lies 55 kilometers North of Coimbatore and happens to be a major manufacturing centre of hosiery. The knitwear industry here accounts for around 80% of knitted garments in the country. Their exports stand at Rs.12,000 crores (120 million) annually and the domestic supply is said to be over Rs.5000 crores. There are around 10 to 12 factories where everything is done under one roof including dyeing. Every factory employs around 1000 to 3000 skilled workers. Most of the industrial units come under the category of ‘Small Scale’ barring the few bigger ones. There are around 500 units engaged in spinning and weaving and some 3000 in stitching. Practically every household contributes in one way or the other. There were several units engaged in dyeing but due to the  pollution they emanate, many of them closed down because of judicial intervention. Now it is understood that they have equipped themselves with non polluting technologies and are into convincing the courts for their revival. All the smaller units here are engaged in some kind of job work for one another. The factories of Tirupur produce knitwear for all the major brands across the world. Indian brands like Lyril, Lux Roopa etc. get manufactured here but one may not say “exclusively” for this is a kind of job work which is outsourced.
 
Exported hosiery some times gets returned on certain technical grounds or due to the inability of the importers to pay for them. Such goods get sold at  throw away prices, a kind of distress sale, in Khadarpet market near the local Railway Station.
 


After an hour’s drive, we were at a Hosiery Factory where one of it's directors was a friend of my brother. In addition to Tees, this factory manufactures Tops, Inners, Slips, winter wear etc. for women and children. We were welcomed and provided with play cards to be worn around the neck to indicate our VVIP status before we could venture into their manufacturing areas. I wanted to see the entire process from the very beginning i.e. from raw cotton onwards. The factory had their  independent spinning  unit which produced yarn out of raw cotton. It was interesting to see the large machines spinning cotton  and rolling/wrapping the thread in many ways onto the spindles, small and large. Some of the spindles were larger than gasoline drums. There were hundreds of parallel thread streams getting collected on those drum like spindles. We were told that those spindles are sent to other weaving units who manufacture cloth (not knitwear). In the backyard of the large shed, the open courtyard was strewn with bales of waste cotton which get sold out as cattle feed. Part of it goes to paddy fields to improve soil fertility.
  


Back in the main factory building we were taken around the knitting section where we found the end use  of those smaller spindles. The round machines of various dimensions were engaged in churning out knitted cloth cylindrically.  The knitted cloth then finds its place over large tables in several layers. The specifications provided by the Importers/principal companies owning particular brands are stored in a computer. While cutting the cloth some amount of wastage becomes inevitable. The computer throws out various options and when the wastage level is around 18% (that is said to be the tolerable level) the automatic cutting machines receive commands from the computer operator, which in turn cuts the knitted cloth as per the design specified.  Sleeves, Collars and the main body parts are stacked separately which go to the stitching sections. The whole process gets accomplished in minutes.
 





As said above for stitching the different pieces together, which includes buttons/fasteners, hundreds of people are engaged working in different teams. After the stitching the Tees emerge in one piece. They then travel to people who press them and fold them. Finally they are sent for packing but before doing so they are labelled (Branded!). Thereafter they get wrapped in pre-printed polythene packets with logos and all other things as desired by the Importer. Even price tags (In Euros are US Dollars) are affixed. In some cases the packaging of individual Tees are provided with hangers as well. The importer has nothing to add on and they are ready to be hanged in show cases. Now is the time when they get into card board cartons but before that the representative of the Importing Company ensures that all the standards specified have been adhered to. The cartons move to large containers and get  placed appropriately (pre-determined space), ready to be shipped.
 


Around 2.00 PM we completed our learning mission and instead of a few Tees we could not resist filling our cart with not less than 2 dozens of them. They were at much much below the market rates. Of course, they did not bear any brand as such but were otherwise genuinely manufactured for an internationally acclaimed brand. The factory is not supposed to provide branded garments locally, however they are allowed to manufacture 10% over and above the contracted volume. This comes in handy for the factory to entertain their valued connections locally.
 
Incidentally, we forgot about Vests altogether.

32 comments:

  1. This is interesting. I have heard so much of these 'Tees'. Great sights of the factories.

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  2. That factory trip looks wonderful. Hope you would have enjoyed very much. Thanks for those photos.

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  3. I was living in Coimbatore for almost a year and a half but never thought of going to Tiruppur for purchasing garments! I seem to have missed it. Next time when I go there, I will remember. Thanks for the info.

    Destination Infinity

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  4. I have heard a lot about Tiruppur banians and T shirts! Now, had a look at the factory too! Jobs for so many people! Thank you!

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  5. This is an interesting post. It is first time for me to see that factories producing tees in your country.Looks clean and neat. The matching and seaming carried out during assembly must be a skilled process.Thank you for sharing.

    RedRose

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    1. thanks for sharing ..very interesting ... I have seen vests here in US ..made in india..
      Indian cotton has always been of superior quality n loved by all..
      even Peru is other place where we find best cottons in US market.

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  6. कई बार कोयम्टूर से गुज़रा हूं, अरुवनकाडु जाने के रास्ते। इस शहर की इस विशेषता से परिचित न था। अगली बार जब भी जाना हुआ हम भी गंजी (बनियान) लेने पहुंचेंगे।
    वस्त्र उत्पादन की विविध तकनीक की विस्तृत जानकारी मिली।

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  7. Very interesting! Never knew the behind the scenes that goes into the making of the tees. Many thanks for sharing. Thoroughly enjoyed my virtual tour.

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  8. Wonderful ! Informative and very interesting.I remember my cousin brother who was an engineering student at Coimbatore used to get us beautiful tees (mostly white in color) from some factory nearby the city.
    Thanks for sharing ,I loved reading it.

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  9. This was truly amazing- I mean the pictures capture what a huge production goes on at these factories....and to see the amount of labor force involved...very amazing!! Thank you for the running commentary which helped me understand the steps and the process of the manufacturing of these goods.

    I recognized the brand H&M on the T-shirt. Amazing to see the origin of it and know when I go into that particular store I'm probably getting product from this factory!

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  10. Fascinating stuff, as Anjuli says it is amazing to think that some of our clothing may well have started out here, isn't it a small world?

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  11. Interesting, Here in UK too we have a couple of stores like that where you can go and buy stuff for less then half price being sold in big shops.

    lovely pictures of the whole of the workshop and all .. and hey a GOOD bargain all that :)

    Bikram's

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  12. Very nice experience and interesting shots from the factory.

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  13. Very detailed explanation of your factory visit .

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  14. great info..i did know about coimbatore being a centre for textiles...but your post got me know about the whole process!!

    http://sushmita-smile.blogspot.in/

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  15. It's so interesting to see and read from your factory visit.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Wish you a beautiful Sunday.
    Greetings Mette

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  16. What a lovely virtual tour of a textile factory! Enjoyed this post.

    BTW, came here from Radha's blog, Musings of a Night-Owl.

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  17. interesting and informative post...

    Tirupur is famous for vests

    thanks for visiting my blog

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  18. Very interesting information based on a personal visit and detailed study. Lovely photos.

    Best wishes,
    Joseph

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  19. Namaste....
    thanks for the tour and info.

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  20. I'm very fond of indian textiles. Your detailed, informative post gave me the rare opportunity of a closer look into this industry.
    Thanks for sharing.

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  21. Welcome to my blog and many thanks for so kind words!
    Thank you for so interesting post!!!
    I was glad for the factory! Your photos are beautiful!!!
    It is wonderful to work both people and wonderful vests sold at good prices!
    Too bad that in Greece we had many textile mills and all closed...

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  22. Wow this is nice to see this factory...they look like they work hard

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  23. That's such a detailed account of the garment export units in Tiruppur along with excellent pics. I am only an hours drive from Tiruppur & have been there several times but never visited one of the factories or bought T-Shirts at such throw away prices. Shall do so in one of my future visits.

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  24. आपकी हर पोस्‍ट जानकारी और पठनीयता का अदभुत संगम होती है। आभार।

    ------
    ..की-बोर्ड वाली औरतें।
    मूस जी मुस्‍टंडा...

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  25. Two dozens? Oh dear you'll have for a decade... ;)

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  26. Garments from Tirupur are fabulous. It is a shame that they are sold abroad while we are provided their rejected stocks. A good account of the industry.

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  27. Namaste.....

    Just stopped in to let you know you have be selected for an award. Please come by when you have the time and pick it up. The blog was published March 8, 2012. You will find your name amoung other selectees

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  28. Another informative post. In Bangalore too we have heard of people who travel to Tirupur to buy T shirts etc. that they sell here.

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  29. Hi there. Nice blog. You have shared useful information. Keep up the good work! This blog is really interesting and gives good details. arya samaj mandir , arya samaj marriage in delhi .

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