Expert Interview | Fashion Updates

REVOLUTIONIZING THE TRADE OF FASHION: INTERACTION WITH MR.RAHUL MEHTA

Published: April 5, 2023
Author: Fashion Value Chain

Please tell us about yourself and the journey of CMAI?

My journey with CMAI started in the mid-80’s, when Mr. Bangera, Ramesh Hingorani, and Kishor Asar approached me to be part of the CMAI activities. CMAI has had a unique feature of being perhaps the only Association which represents both the Export as well as the Domestic Sectors. And perhaps they felt I was an appropriate candidate, since I handled the Domestic business of an otherwise Export oriented Group of Companies. I was hence catapulted as the Hon. Secretary in my first year itself. I had the privilege of working with the likes of Parsubhai Amersey, Shantilal Shah, and Kantibhai Doshi – all giants in their own right.

However, over the years, CMAI has tended to focus primarily on the Domestic Sector, and both the Government as well as Industry has acknowledged CMAI as the Association representing the Domestic Sector. It has been a matter of some satisfaction that there is hardly a forum or a discussion impacting the Domestic Sector in which CMAI is not approached by the Government to represent the Sector’s views.

On the personal front, and thanks to the persuasion of my colleagues, I have had the dubious honor to be the CMAI’s President for a straight 13 years, apart from an earlier stint of 2 years – totaling 15 years in all. I say dubious because having such long tenures is not really in the best interests of an Organization – and I plead guilty for this transgression!

Be as it may, I have had the satisfaction of overseeing a metamorphosis of CMAI – from being just an organizer of Garment Fairs to being the melting pot of innovative ideas, an incredible range of services to our Members, and being the prime mover of change, evolution, and progress in the Domestic Sector.

Today, CMAI has expanded its range of services to organizing the largest Supply Chain Fair – the FAB SHOW (Fabrics, Accessories, & Beyond), introducing for the first time a VENDOR SOURCING FAIR (VSF), the Fair which promotes manufacturers who wish to focus on Manufacturing and not keen to market their own Brands, organizing the NORTH INDIA GARMENT FAIR – probably the first such Fair being held in Delhi organized by an Association, and taking Indian Brands Global by organizing the BRANDS OF INDIA SHOW in Dubai in November this year.

Apart from these newer and innovative formats of Trade Fairs, CMAI runs the Industry’s largest and most successful Dispute Resolution process with its Conciliation and Arbitration Cells. Its CAPACITY BAZAAR, KNOW YOUR MEMBERS, SU.RE (Sustainable Resolution – a getting together of the top Brands and Retailers to work towards a more Sustainable Textile Industry), and MEMBERSHIP CARD with attractive tie-ups with several Brands are other unique services which CMAI has introduced and continue to introduce over the years. An extremely important contribution of CMAI which will be unveiled in the coming month is its joint project with NIFT and the Ministry of Textiles to launch the INDIA SIZE – which promises to drastically reduce wastage and dead inventory in the system by having a Standard Sizing structure for Garments. CMAI has also trained over 45,000 operators under the ISDS Scheme of the Government, though our Apparel Training Centre (ATC).

So, as you can see, it has been an exciting journey for CMAI so far, which only promises to be even more so in the coming years. I can only be thankful and proud for the opportunity to be associated with this journey for more than 25 years.

What are the objectives behind the CMAI’s three exhibitions namely ‘National Garment Fair’, ‘Fabrics, Accessories & Beyond Show’ and ‘Vendor Sourcing Fair’?

As the names suggest, all the 3 Formats have their unique and individual goals and objectives.

The National Garment Fair, or the NGF as it is so popularly known, is the ideal platform for those Manufacturers who supply their Brands to the Indian Retail Market – whether it be the MBO segment of the LFS segment. Most of these Brands are National in their distribution, or have National aspirations. Of course, new Brands being launched find it the most economical and powerful platform to be introduced to the crème de la crème of Indian Retail.

The FAB Show, or the FABRICS, ACCESSORIES & BEYOND Show, is a complete Supply Chain Fair, which has the entire Supply Chain exhibiting their products to the visiting Garment Manufacturers, Brands, Exporters, as well as E-Commerce players. The Fabric section in this Fair is understandably the major section, with suppliers from all over India, especially from Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajasthan, Delhi, UP, exhibiting their product ranges.

The VENDOR SOURCING FAIR (VSF) is the unique new format introduced by CMAI which promotes those Manufacturers who are not keen to market their own Brands, but would prefer to manufacturer for larger Brands and Manufacturers under the Buyer’s labels.

How’s your experience been while hosting such grand events?

Organizing such Mega Events is a massive challenge – both in terms of Planning as well as Execution. Participants, big and small, have their own demands, and expectations – and meeting them is a huge task. One can only salute the Committee Members of the Fair Committee, the FAB Committee, and the VSF Committee, who, in spite of being businessmen themselves, often sacrifice their own interests to ensure that the events are an unqualified success, and both Participants and Visitors go back completely satisfied. Whilst it is a complete Team effort, and every one of the Committee members plays a sterling role, the respective Chairmen, Rohit Munjal, Naveen Sainani, and Mukesh Jain deserve a huge round of applause for their outstanding contribution. The CMAI Staff too, play a vital role in the organization, and brilliantly led by our Executive Director Mohan Sadhwani, they have risen to great heights to ensure a flawless experience.

What are the average exhibitors and visitors you get for the three massive exhibitions?

The NGFs see around 35,000 visitors in the Festive edition and around 20,000 – 25,000 in the Summer edition.

The FAB Show sees between 10,000 to 12,000 visitors

The VSF saw around 1200 Buyers.

What was the effect of COVID pandemic on the exhibitions?

All Exhibitions, whether in India are across the Globe, suffered during the pandemic – and CMAI Fairs were no exception. However, I would be right in saying that our NGFs were probably the least impacted by the pandemic.

Apart from exhibitions, what other activities are under CMAI’s name?

As already mentioned above, our Conciliation and Arbitration activity, the India Size project, the training of operators through our Apparel Training Centre (ATC), our Capacity Bazaar, and the ambitious SU.RE Project are amongst the many of our activities. Of course, liaison and Advocacy with the Government is one of our most critical activity.

What message would you give to exhibitors and visitors who are planning to visit the next editions?

My simple message is no matter which Fair, do not treat it as a mere buying and selling platform. Fairs and Exhibitions are much more than that – they help you build new relationships and maintain old, they help in keeping a tab on what is new in the Industry, of new players, new technologies, and provide an opportunity to reconnect with your peers, colleagues, and competitors.

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