Textile and apparel major Raymond has been pioneering the revival of tailor-made garments through many exemplary initiatives. With the twin goal of making tailoring aspirational for the youth and supporting the self-employed, Raymond has focused on capacity building through skilling, upskilling and entrepreneurship promotion. We caught up with Mohit Dhanjal, Director – Retail, Raymond Limited, to know more about how the brand has come up with holistic programs for creating a world-class tailoring hub in India. Here’s the Skill Story of Raymond to tell you more…
Q: What are some of the initiatives from Raymond in making tailoring aspirational through skill-based training and entrepreneurship promotion?
A: The Raymond brand has an enviable and very rich legacy of over 90 years. It has been at the forefront of redefining Fashion and Technology by bringing innovative products to the consumer. As part of category leadership, we are leading the revival of the tailoring profession and building the first of its kind tailoring ecosystem by reaching out to over 100000 tailors. Our strategy is built on four pillars of growth, internally referred to as 4Cs (Capability, Capacity, Connect and Consumer).
This translates into the need for a robust framework starting from a skill development program for the tailors that assesses present skill levels, imparts skilling and upskilling training. It should also provide quality infrastructure, develop better working environment, sustainable and enhanced income with social security for tailors and most importantly, improved customer satisfaction leading to increase in fabric sales. To enable this, we have set up the first of its kind Centre of Tailoring Excellence in Thane.
Raymond has taken up an initiative to train unemployed youth, women and the under privileged, in the art and science of tailoring, under its CSR initiative called Skilled Tailoring Institute by Raymond (STIR). The initiative aims to upgrade current skillsets and encourages employment and entrepreneurship in tailoring amongst youth.
Kaun Banega Master Stylist and World Tailors Day are two initiatives that were taken in order to bring the tailor master at the forefront and give them a platform to showcase their skills and craft.
Q: As an industry leader in the apparel sector, how has Raymond contributed to curriculum design, outcomes and standards in skill development, example, QP – NOS formulation for various job roles, as per industry expectations and NSQF.
A: Raymond has instituted certification-based skill building programs for Master Tailors, Karigars as well as for students entering the tailoring domain. The main objective is to skill the community so as to impact quality of garmenting and provide a sustainable livelihood. A skilled tailor has to know the complete process of measurement, drafting a pattern, stitching and finishing of any garment as per industry standards.
To achieve this, Raymond has tapped into the various skilling initiatives instituted by various government agencies to identify courses available in the men’s garmenting sector. However, it was observed that most of the courses available in QP –NOS on tailoring were short term courses focusing primarily on women’s apparel.
Hence, using technical expertise and domain knowledge of senior masters within the network, Raymond mapped it with courses available in QP-NOS and drafted course curriculum focusing on this specific trade of men’s tailoring. Further, regular representation by Raymond on the changing needs of this sector to the DGET, NSDC and Apparel Sector Skill Council has helped to refresh and develop industry specific programs.
Student skilling programs in tailoring
For freshers and students entering this domain, NSQF compliant courses focusing on tailoring of quality shirts, trousers and jackets was launched by aligning with the skilling initiatives of state skilling agencies like UPSDM (Uttar Pradesh), RSLDC (Rajasthan) and PBSSD (West Bengal).
These job-oriented courses along with exposure to use of latest technology available in industry like CAD to develop patterns, modern machines like “feed of the arm”, “blind hem”, “over lock machine” and fusing machines help in development of quality skilled manpower for the industry. On completion of these customized courses, students not only get placed as Master tailors and designers but also develop skills to become entrepreneurs and set up their own custom-tailoring units.
Upskilling program for self-employed tailors
We tapped into the PMKVY RPL scheme and conducted upskilling program for our master tailors and karigars across our network. The courses were further customised by introducing few topics like Understanding Body Types, Introduction to Seasonal Collections, Raymond Certified Quality parameters for Shirts, Trousers and Jackets as well as Introduction to Pattern based drafting techniques. This course was aligned with Self-Employed Tailor NSQF LEVEL 4.
Q: What are some of the challenges faced by the tailors in sustaining and scaling their business of custom tailoring?
- Seasonal demand for tailored garments
- Readymade garments being competitively priced
- Unavailability of skilled karigar
- Quality of infrastructure
- Next generation of tailor master doesn’t see the profession as a dignified profession
- Inability to stay in trend with the latest fashion
Q: How has Raymond integrated digital /online technology in fostering an ecosystem to support tailors and bring them closer to their customers?
- One Button Connect – a mobile app launched exclusively for tailor masters and karigars
- App provides them with latest designs and decodes
- A vast library of study material with new techniques in tailoring
- Video tutorials on topics like measurement taking , customer handling etc
- Launch of B2B trims site – a trade platform for listing, selling and buying of trims.
- RaymondTailoring.com – an online tailoring concierge service which brings convenience of tailoring to the consumer
- We have recently launched high decibel campaign #TailorYourStyle which will help us build awareness about tailoring and the customization one can avail for all occasions.
Q: Tell us more about India’s first Center of Excellence (CoE) in tailoring and the 4 C Strategy.
A: In a bid to build a robust tailoring ecosystem, Raymond had set up a ‘Centre of Excellence’ (CoE) – a first of its kind initiative for tailors in our country. This platform will enable tailors to come together, network and share knowledge that will be pivotal for skill development and also enhance the appeal of the profession to make it aspirational. The CoE was inaugurated on 25 July 2017 by Gautam Hari Singhania, Chairman & Managing Director, Raymond and leadership team at Raymond.
The state of the art CoE houses a modern training centre that will provide training in coherence with industry-relevant curriculum. It will provide practical learning experience to enhance the quality of tailored garments. At the Tailoring Experience Lounge, one can browse through the history of this fine art that dates back to the era of renaissance. Another first in tailoring is a Design and Trims Studio, an innovation centre that will help create and deliver trendy styles and designs for discerning customers. A state-of-the-art Sampling and Tailoring hub for converting designs into customized garments is a radical change from the age-old tailoring workshops. The Raymond Custom Tailoring Hub model is a game changer and holds the potential of reversing the trend and attracting youth to the tailoring profession.
The 4C Strategy is devised to enrich the tailoring ecosystem, where each C stands for – Capability, Connect, Capacity and Consumer.
- Capability – Building up required skill sets, knowledge, entrepreneurial abilities and attributes among the master tailors and karigars through systematic training and development. So far, 25000 tailors are trained and SOPs are developed for tailoring standardisation.
- Capacity – Facilitating the growth of Tailoring Hubs that have modern infrastructure, technology, decent working condition and social security for workers. 38 Tailoring hubs are opened till date providing employment to karigars and Tailor masters along with social security and benefits like PF, ESIC , hygienic working environment.
- Connect – Communicating and engaging with the tailoring communities for economic prosperity and social dignity of the profession. For example, World Tailors Day, One Button Connect and Kaun Banega Master Stylist.
- Consumer – Best-in-class tailoring experience to consumers in terms of fit, style, fashion, ambience and convenience. Opened avenues like RaymondTailoring.com for consumers to experience a premium tailoring experience.
We are building the Raymond store on three pillars: first, connect with the customers and understand how customers trust the brand. Second, have consistent desire to be the best in class in terms of the products and services. Third, aim for the success of our business partners.
My motto is customer first! I encourage my team to imbibe skills like agility, entrepreneurial mindset, curiosity, imagination and digital coherence to stay relevant in today’s world. I firmly believe that to become the best at anything, you have to learn continuously and I support it by saying “I am in this with you”!
Q: How is the response to “Kaun Banega Master Stylist” contest that aims to create awareness and recognize the skills and competencies of tailors?
A: Kaun Banega Master Stylist has seen a tremendous response from the tailoring community. The platform has been appreciated by a lot of tailor masters as it has given them a chance to showcase their creations on an international stage judged by the internationally accredited Andrew Ramroop (OBC, Head Savile Row Academy, London). Winners of last year’s contest, Shamshad Ansari and Aparna Mal got a chance to go to South Korea for the Federation of Asian Master Tailors (FAMT) as part of the Raymond contingent. They represented India in the competitions held and were felicitated with the Gold and Silver Trophies. We’ve had more than 1000 registrations for this year , out of which 120 (90 Tailor Masters + 30 Design Students) have been selected for the grand finale to be held on 28th February 2019. You can catch few glimpses of last year’s event in the video below:
Q: What are your plans for upcoming contest and World Tailoring Day 2019. How do contests help in sharing the positive impact of tailoring as a profession?
A: World Tailors Day has become an annual celebration at Raymond as we probably have the largest number of tailors working in our network through our exclusive store ‘The Raymond Shop’ along with Tailoring Hubs. There are several initiatives planned around World Tailors Day like a Thank you card acknowledging the work done by our tailor masters and thanking them for their service to our customers. Our office team travels to the stores to celebrate this day with our tailors.
Kaun Banega Master Stylist (KBMS) is integral to World Tailor’s Day and aims to be a grand celebration this year and is going to be a tough battle among 90 best master tailors in the country. 30 students of design institutes would also take part in the competition. The event will be held across two days at Raymond campus with international and celebrity judges being part of the panel. A fashion show will showcase the creations of all the 120 finalists, making it one of the largest fashion shows in terms of number of creations showcased. The contest, this year, would also test the skills of master tailor through competitions like the golden needle (Kaj making) and jacket drafting (creating a jacket from scratch in 4 hours). The event is going to be live streamed across digital formats for families of the tailor masters and viewers.