The Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), the official body of apparel exporters in India, has announced the launch of the Apparel Industry Sustainability Action (AISA) aimed at boosting the sustainable attributes of the garment industry which is looking to capitalise on free trade agreements (FTAs).

An open house discussion brought together global apparel brands and auditing agencies including PVH Corporation), Target, Bestseller, Marks and Spencer (M&S), Reverse Resources, which unequivocally advocated their growing drive towards sustainability and advised suppliers to take smaller steps to begin the journey.

The meeting also witnessed support and guidance across borders including United National Environment Program (UNEP) and Denmark embassy, Fashion for Good, Netherlands; all bringing in their experiences towards assisting the Indian garment manufacturers to invoke sustainability measures in their manufacturing processes.

The initiative outlined the following aims:

– Evaluation of the existing status of Indian garment industry.
– Encouraging wider penetration of these measures amongst the MSMEs (Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises).
– Hand-holding these units with demonstrations and solutions.
– Enhancing the brand visibility of sustainable companies on global platform.
– Brainstorming necessary policy focused towards wider and smooth adoption of sustainability measures amongst Indian garment units at large.

The meeting saw participation from officials some of which represented the Government of India, including Prajakta Verma, joint secretary at the Ministry of Textiles, Shubhra, trade advisor at the Ministry of Textiles, Roop Rashi Mahapatra, textile commissioner, Sudhir Sekhri, vice chairman of AEPC and Gautam Nair, chairman of export promotion at AEPC.

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Speaking at the launch, Naren Goenka, the chairman of AEPC said, “As we all know global garment production is forecast to increase by 63% by 2030. This spectacular growth brings with it an ever-growing global concern on the detrimental impact that this fashion industry brings as it is one of the most resource-intensive industries. Also, considering the growing consumer awareness on sustainability and the gaps in the global markets, it is a dire need for the Indian Apparel industry to dig deeper into the subject.”

The Government has been very proactive towards announcing various export promotion initiatives and signing various Free Trade agreements with UAE, Australia, UK, Canada etc, added Goenka.

Roop Rashi Mahapatra, the textile commissioner at the Government Of India, highlighted the importance of the funds in meeting the sustainability standards. She also applauded the AEPC initiative and advised the Council to see how these sustainability initiatives can be embraced by the garment industry.

Further, she said, the next few years will be “revolutionary for the planet” as there will be a lot of emphasis on sustainability.

AEPC also released a compendium during the conclave. Companies included in the Sustainability Compendium will be showcased on the dedicated sustainability social media platform for wide publicity and will finally culminate as Sustainability Awards.

Goenka in his final remark emphasised: “My final words to my industry members is, from now on the motto should be “Compliance first, Business next”.

Last year, the minister of state for textile and railways for India, Darshana Jardosh, told audiences at the Dubai Expo 2020 that the country was eyeing the position of “preferred sourcing partner” for the global textile industry.

Jardosh said she would invite global investors to invest in the Indian textile value chain and set it up as a preferred sourcing partner.