Tirupur: The Export Hub of Knitted Garments in India

Tirupur: The Export Hub of Knitted Garments in India

Tirupur The Export Hub of Knitted Garments in India 1

Tirupur is situated 60 km east of Tamil Nadu Coimbatore district, having emerged as the country’s knitwear hub in three decades. Tirupur is famously known as “Dollar City” or “Small Japan” or “Banian City”. The town excels in ready-made knitted garments thereby by recognized as a ‘Town of Export Excellence’ by Department of Commerce & Industry, Govt of India. In case if you are planning to make a documentary/films/Tv drama and looking for a media fixer in India, all you need is to contact “FILMING INDO” who works as journalist, fixer and line producer to support all your needs from permits to arranging the shoot.


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Tirupur has emerged as a leading export cluster in knitwear over the past two decades, and has built its presence in Europe, the US, and the Pacific. The Tirupur cluster has evolved as a highly connected unit cluster which transforms cotton into knitwear products together. Specific units are particularly specialized in the manufacturing, dyeing, processing, sewing and export marketing of fabrics.


Known as ‘T-shirt City,’ this town’s industry began producing low-value cotton hosiery products, primarily in the 1930’s under garments. In 1937 Gulam Kadar, who founded “Baby Knitting Industries” in the Kaderpet area of Tirupur, brought Knitting to this district.


Tirupur has traditionally produced knitwear and, in particular, established its name in India in the manufacture of cotton underwear. Tiruppur also specializes in the low-volume mid-fashion market , particularly in the wear and supply of children and women to some of the world’s leading retailers, such as Marks and Spencers.


Tirupur knitwear cluster has diversified its production portfolio from being manufacturers of simple knitwear for the lower end of the domestic market to a range consisting of t-shirts, polo shirts, sportswear, sweat shirts, ladies’ dresses, children’s apparel, nightwear, etc. The cluster requires a significant degree of specialization in most areas including supply of machinery in addition to every area of the production operation.



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Tirupur knitting industry employs more than 3.5 lakhs of people from neighboring districts and states, including both local and migrated labor force. The labour-power available to the firms in and around Tirupur is of agricultural base and as such the skill level has always been a concern for the producers. But even in the absence of formal training in and within companies, the average time spent in the manufacturing process is three weeks for an agricultural labour to absorb.


In the Tirupur knitting industry the average ratio of male to female is 50 per cent. There are two payment systems in Tirupur and, according to the representative of the trade union, 30 per cent of the workforce is under piece rate and rest work is under shift. For their contract labor, most factories work with contractors and almost 40 percent of the workforce is on contract basis.


Tirupur textile industry has units along the knitwear value chain starting from spinning , weaving, wet processing, printing, fabrication of garments, embroidery, compacting, calendar and exports. As of 2008, as reported by Tirupur Exporter Association (TEA), the Tirupur cluster comprises a total of 6250 units in different value chain.



Tirupur The Export Hub of Knitted Garments in India

Around 45% of India’s clothing is in the form of knitwear, and here the Tirupur Tamilnadu center plays a pivotal role, producing as much as 80% of the knitted clothing exports; in other words, around 4% of India’s total export trade.


In 2006-07 the export crossed the Rs. 11,000 crores mark from a meager Rs.10crores in 1984. In 2007-08, rupee-to-dollar export appreciation decreased by 10 per cent and Rs. 9,950crores were reported.



Tirupur The Export Hub of Knitted Garments in India 2

There are numerous local representative institutions and support bodies, as well as government initiatives, which have had a major effect on the growth of the knitwear sector in Tirupur, including:


Textiles Committee under the Ministry of Textiles, Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC); South Indian Hosiery Manufacturers’ Association (SIHMA), more active, Tirupur Exporters Association (TEA) representing the knitwear exporters in the city; and Knit Cloth Manufacturer’s Association (KNITMA), Tirupur Dyers Association and Tirupur Export Knit Printers Association (UNIDO, 2005).


The organization of exporters, Tirupur Exporters Group (TEA), has certainly enabled growth of the cluster. It works with the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) to create a fashion and training center in Tirupur in addition to organizing international trade fairs in Tirupur. This has embarked on an ambitious program to develop Tirupur’s urban infrastructure, in partnership with a state agency and a global private firm.


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Author: Pallavi Bhagat






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