The global technical textiles market estimated to be around $100 billion in which India has a negligible share. Unlike traditional garments, which India has made a dent in the global market on quality and pricing, in the technical textiles, its investments are still low.
India is now looking to increase technical textiles exports such as sweat absorbing clothes for athletes or fire retardant wear used by factory workers or fire-fighters, where margins are higher than traditional garments.
These apparel require specialized processing of apparel to meet requirements of customers as per global standards, but sell at higher price points than readymade garments.
India expects this segment could absorb better-qualified engineers and researchers to work on products that could eventually get sold in the US and Europe. At the same time, it would also increase employment for women workers in states such as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, where there is educated workforce.
Dr A Sakthivel, chairman of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) Southern region, who heads garment exporter Poppys Group said that this is one area they are lagging. It is high-value business and has less competition (from other countries. There is a lot of technology involved and requires engineers and scientists.
Technical textiles have multiple segments such as agrotech â€” crop covers and shade mats; tarpaulins, floor and wall coverings for buildings, and apparel used in cars and aircraft.
The association is looking at setting up a research lab to work on products near Tirupur, Sakthivel said that Karnataka would be an ideal location considering that the climate allows research on better products for the global market. Besides the export market, these products also have an opportunity in the local market as most if it is currently imported at high costs.
According to Sakthivel, the country's technology upgradation funds scheme (TUFS) could be utilized to upgrade infrastructure and setting up labs to upgrade to working on technical textilesl.
There are many small players in this segment but Amrit Exports, a Kolkata-based exporter is the only large player in this segment.
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