LNJ Denim, a denim manufacturing facility established in 2007 under RSWM Limited (the flagship company of LNJ Bhilwara Group), has a manufacturing capacity of 27 mn meters annually. LNJ Denim has earned an excellent reputation amongst international and domestic brands as an innovator and a quality supplier of denim fabric.
Suketu Shah, Chief Executive/ Business Head of LNJ Denim in conversation with Arvind Kumar, Editor- Apparel Views Magazine at the recently concluded Denim Show at Mumbai.
Please tell us about new developments at LNJ Denim and what all you are displaying here at Denim Show 2023?
First of all, let me tell you that LNJ Denim stands for quality, color and expertise in development and service to its customers. In today’s context, sustainability takes a bigger leap in this industry. So, we have put that in practice across our entire range and categories and launched a complete collection based on sustainable model. We are also using up to 20 percent PCW i.e. Post Consumer Waste fibre made from old garments/ fabrics. The SS24 collection is completely based on that. There are multiple fibres, multiple processes, and all eco-friendly fibres. All incoming chemicals and outgoing fabrics are being tested at 100 percent level and our processes are accredited by H&M, Levis, Lee and Wrangler. Our whole manufacturing system is ZLD compliant. So in a nutshell, we can say that sustainability is the new theme for denim and we at LNJ follow that in principle and practice.
Can you elaborate about your commitment to sustainable production?
LNJ Denim is committed to processes and technologies that help keep our environment green and our business sustainable. Eucalyptus from sustainably managed plantations such as this one provides cellulose for lyocell, one of many fibres we can utilise in your denim.
The Global Recycled Standard (GRS) addresses input material verification, chain of custody, environmental principles, social requirements, and labelling for textile products made from recycled materials. It aims to be a full-product standard for recycled material content that balances rigor and practicality for the industry and end consumers.
We proudly offer recycled denim products in both rigid and stretch constructions. Our state-of-the-art Garnett machines efficiently break down post-consumer waste fabrics and convert them into new usable fibres— we’re weaving new denim while eliminating excess waste from landfills.
We also offer fabrics dyed with advanced techniques that use less water and fewer chemicals. To round out our efforts, we treat all of our post-process water in our own effluent treatment plant and further purify it via reverse osmosis before returning it to the environment cleaner than before.
There are always some trends in design when we talk of Denim that is converted into jeans. So, what is the trend right now?
Right now the trend for the last 7 years or so was more of dobbies and knit-look fabrics which carried typical knitted appearance of a product, but woven. That was in the offing and still prevalent going into the domestic market in a big way. But being a 100 percent PIQ (Precision, Innovation and Quality)variety, the overall cost of the product is going very high as prices of cotton has also shot up sharply. So there was a thought that if we can go back to 3/1 (to bring down the cost) but it never happened as the market always demands something new.
Predominantly in Indian context, these kind of products are required in the domestic trade, whereas 3/1 and other products are preferred by International brands and when we talk about brands, they are less into knit looks and more into 3/1 and that trend is coming in a big way. Interestingly, the trend is not just catching up with International brands but also with some Indian brands, particularly if they are into a particular segment say women wear where 3/1 is predominant. In fact our share in 3/1 has gone up to 25 percent from just 5 percent around 2 years ago. We are not talking about all players in the segment as many are still struggling with capacity utilization etc. but by God’s grace and the kind of work we do, we have been managing 100 percent volumes consistently and able to sell our entire quantity.
What is the capacity and present volume of production at your plant?
We are doing 27 Lakh mtrs per month and in terms of segmentation we are doing 30 percent for domestic brands, 35 percent for domestic trade and 35 percent for exports, but here I must quickly add that exports have reduced to 15-20 percent and we were able to make good this deficit by adding more to our domestic trade and domestic brand segment. In fact it is heartening to share that our distributors started picking up more volumes from us by slashing their orders with other mills and that indeed is an acknowledgement of our quality and service.
Do you feel that globally the market is showing a downtrend and is that the reason for your export share to come down as well?
The market is definitely down, but people have not stopped wearing clothes. Moreover, the market for Denim has also not subdued but yes, the economy of US and Europe is slightly lower and the domestic market is more than making up for the downtrend in exports. Food, shelter and clothing are basic needs and in a huge country like India that collects 187 cr in GST last month, one can well imagine the potential of the domestic market.
The ongoing war between two nations is unfortunate and has affected exports but that is what lies in front of us. The exports that used to be 400 million mtrs per year for India has come down to 100 million mtrs. Obviously, everyone in the industry would rather find opportunity in the domestic market instead of just sitting back and mulling over the uncertainty in export markets.
You mean to say domestic market is growing?
Actually not! The domestic market is not growing at that pace, but as I said, one must find opportunity in adversity. In every market, the competition is cut-throat and to survive, one needs to increase their market share by being aggressive and keep updating themselves in all aspects of business. The important point to note here is post-covid, while many new players came into the market hoping to bite into the existing market share, some of the older players (owing to old mills, production standards) left the scenario. It was just a mismatch of new vs old, but the overall market size remained the same. Only those moving forward with latest trends, technology and processes have managed to grow and sustain. We are glad to be among them and kept our feet firmly on the ground.
Where does LNJ stand in terms of number?
In terms of capacity, we rank at around 30 and that is because, nearly 20 other players hover around this capacity closely followed by another. However, in terms of quality, sales and plant utilization, we are probably number one.
In terms of quality alone, where do you stand?
In terms of quality, we rank among top 3. Raymond and Arvind are the other 2 brands topping the charts. It is overwhelming for me on a personal level that I had a stint of 20 years with Arvind and another 10 years with Raymond and feel honored to have rolled out the first Denim manufactured in India, way back in the year 1986.
You have a vast and interesting journey with Denim for decades together. So, where do you see this industry moving forward?
All I can say is that everybody has their own stake from the quality and deliverable perspective and taking care of Mother Earth and by putting sustainability actually into practice, one can confidently move forward without worrying about their future or business. We are present here at the Denim Show to open up opportunities for us in exports, which has been a big negative for India as we are falling short on garmenting facilities. This is one area where Government can take bigger steps and even big players should focus on setting up better and bigger in-house garmenting facilities with a clear conscious outlook that profits would start rolling in only after 3 years.