Evaluation of the vendors for Indian Ethnic Fabric is more of an art than a science simply for the fact that there are many soft factors involved. Indian ethnic fabrics are masterpieces generally belong to a particular community who has perfected the art of producing it traditionally. When it comes to dealing with small volumes, you can get very good quality. But the moment the volume go bigger and is limited by delivery timelines, all sort of problmes start happening. Hence it is important to know your vendor before an order is placed with him/her. Generally the crieteria revolves around dealing with the vendors for a few years before making any evaluation.
Time of association with the company is a very important factor. The older the vendor/artisan is with a company, he understands the modus operandi of the company, the likes and dislikes and adept itself to work in the way. This leads to saving in time when explaining designs and fewer rejections.
Volume and value of the fabric done per year is another factor that needs to be looked into. More volume done with the company indicates the vendor's capacity. Evaluating capacity of an artisan is very different from evaluating the capacity of the mill wherein one can count the number of machines and multiply by speed and efficiency to get the capacity. Generally artisans work in small clusters and the looms/printing tables are distributed over a wide geographicaly area. If a vendor can deliver volume that indicates his relationships with the vendors and his financial strength. In case of Tussars/Bhagalpur silks this is of critical importance as the greige fabric has to be booked in advance of one year and colors are indicated closer to the season. The vendor should have the financial strength to hold on the stock for that period.
Innovative designs shown and converted every year is the vital factor for a vendor. It ensures that his margins keep on increasing, his development costs are low and the company is invigorated by the infusion of new designs. Normally, the time of association with the company determines this factor. Block printing can be done on various textures of the fabrics available. Similarly the designs from the saris can be translated into dupattas and stoles after suitable modification. This ensure that the story of the brand is intact and the same language is conveyed to the loyal customer who flock to the stores to get the quintessance of the the brand.
A vendor becomes important if the designs shown by him are impossible or difficult to reproduce anywhere else. That ensures that he gets his desired price points and can dicate terms with regard to production or delivery. It happens in case of traditional wovens and prints that are produced using indiginous techniques like Bagru, Dabu, Jamdanis, Chanderi and Sanganeri Butis.
--To be Continued in the Next Post-----