The rise of Tirupur as the export hub of India

The rise of Tirupur as the export hub of India
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Known as the knitwear capital of India, Tirupur is a town in Tamil Nadu. Tirupur is a global hub for the textile industry and has an export share of more than 50% exports alone in India's export of knitwear- based apparel products. It is popular with various names such as  ‘small Japan’, ‘Banian city’, T-shit city’ and ‘Dollar town’.
It is known as ‘Dollar town’ because of its export potential and export share.
According to business standard Tirupur , is home to 10,000 garment manufacturing hubs, employing over 600,000 workers who make hosiery, knitwear, casual wear and sportswear.
‘There are various estimates that highlight the hub’s importance. Tirupur contributed 54.2 per cent of India’s textile exports in FY22. According to Tirupur Exporters’ Association President Raja M Shanmugham, out of India’s total FY22 exports of around 480 billion dollars, Tirupur alone accounted for a 1.07% per cent share.’
The history of the garments industry in Tirupur is a remarkable tale of perseverance, entrepreneurship, and adaptability. It is the combination of strong infrastructure, local entrepreneurs’ skills, local business leaders and supportive State Government policies that over the years have ensured the consistent growth of Tirupur.
Lets embark on the success story of Tirupur from humble beginnings to the international textile powerhouse and what were the factors that pushed it to success.

The story behind becoming the dollar city of the country

The beginnings

Tirupur was an agriculture oriented state in Tamil Nadu which was popularly engaged in cotton farming and yarn production in 1950s and 1960s. In the mid-20th century a few enterprising individuals saw potential in the town’s cotton production and weaving traditions. People began to move away from agriculture to undertake small-scale manufacturing of personal wear. The high mineral content in the local water, which was the bane of agriculture, played a big role in Tirupur’s success in textiles. Clothes bleached with the local water come out whiter (This was before the arrival and extensive use of chemicals like chlorine in bleaching).

Winds of change/ the take off

A pivotal shift occurred in the 1970s as Tirupur underwent a transformation from its agricultural origins to a burgeoning textile hub.The 1970s catapulted Tirupur into a period of unprecedented growth, fostering a surge in both demand and production. It led to the establishment of small-scale textile units. Local entrepreneurs in the region, many of whom had traditional weaving backgrounds, started exploring contemporary machinery and techniques to create top-notch knit garments. This change was spurred by the growing need for reasonably priced and comfortable clothing, both within the country and on the global stage. The people in Tirupur quickly learned and adapted to the intricacies of garment production and because of this, the town became a popular choice for manufacturers who wanted cost-effective workers.

The boom

During the 1980s, Tirupur experienced a surge in exports as it began exporting its knitwear products to global markets. This era marked the rise of small-scale garment exporters who took advantage of the town's manufacturing expertise. The excellence of Tirupur's garments and its adherence to international standards resulted in growing demand, especially from European and American markets.

Global recognition

The economic impact of this transformation was profound, contributing to the city's overall prosperity and attracting a burgeoning influx of businesses. Throughout the 1980s and beyond, Tirupur began to earn global recognition as a distinguished hub for textile manufacturing, further solidifying its status on the world stage. Big brands began to source from Tirupur due to its cost-effective production and adherence to ethical labour practices.
Tirupur stands as a testament to the dynamic evolution of an agrarian town into a global textile powerhouse, symbolising the resilience and adaptability of its community in the face of economic change.

Factors that contributed to the rise of Tirupur

Water quality - The high mineral content in the local water, which was the bane of agriculture, has played a big role in Tirupur's success in textiles. Clothes bleached with the local water came out brighter.
Workforce - One of the key factors that fueled the growth of the Tirupur garments industry was the availability of skilled labour. The town's workforce quickly adapted to the intricacies of garment production, making Tirupur a prime destination for manufacturers looking for cost-effective labour.
Entrepreneurial spirit - Local entrepreneurs in Tirupur, often with traditional weaving backgrounds, played a crucial role. They demonstrated adaptability and a willingness to experiment with modern machinery and techniques.
Cost-effective production - Cost-effective production in Tirupur's textile industry is a cornerstone of its global competitiveness. The region's success is attributed to proficiency in modern manufacturing techniques, fostering efficiency and reducing labour costs. Economies of scale thrive through the concentration of textile businesses, allowing for shared resources and streamlined operations, efficient production practices further contribute to cost savings. The competitive environment encourages manufacturers to adopt lean practices and offer competitive pricing. Additionally, favourable government policies and incentives provide essential support, making Tirupur a hub renowned for its cost-effective and high-quality textile production on the global stage.
Quality standards - Tirupur gained recognition for producing high-quality garments that met international standards. The town's ability to deliver products of superior quality contributed to increased demand, especially from European and American markets.
Infrastructure development - Over the years, Tirupur invested in developing infrastructure that supported the textile industry. This included improved connectivity, better facilities, and a conducive business environment.
Globalisation and market opportunities - As globalization increased, Tirupur leveraged market opportunities and established itself as a key player in the global textile industry. The town's manufacturers were quick to tap into emerging trends and cater to international market demands.