Today is the never ending day. At 4 AM, we finally boarded our flight to Bangalore, and I was hoping to use the hour long flight as a chance to catch up on my blogging, but instead, I was the source of entertainment for the five men sitting nearby me, who I assume had never seen a blonde, fair-skin American person before. They spent the entire hour taking photos and selfies of me. I can now say I know what it feels like to be Kim Kardashian, and we should all cut her some slack because, TBH, being in front of the cameras constantly is a rough life. I hope to one day find these photos on tumblr or something (someone hit me up if you find them!!).
Upon landing in Bangalore, we packed up our bags and headed to our next hotel, Aranha Homes. By the time we arrived, it was about 7:30 AM, and our first activity for the day was scheduled to begin around 8AM, but we DESPERATELY needed sleep! So, we all took naps and pushed the day off a little bit.
This afternoon we visited a testing facility for Buena Veritas, a conformity assessment and certification association that tests products and makes sure they meet set standards. Here, we met with the director of the South Indian division of BV, and he happily answered the many questions we had about BV's policies, procedures, and more! BV's job is to ensure product quality so producers can manufacture their goods and sell them to markets. Their five main values of testing are "quality, health, safety, environment, and social responsibility" and their mission is to ensure product quality so we can live our lives without risk! BV tests everything from new apartment buildings to sheets of blank paper. They are approached by clients who are looking for their products to be tested, and they send a team of 3 experts to test out the product. If something does not pass the tests, BV also offers consulting to help the companies improve their products. BV makes it a point to note that they have no financial interest in their clients whatsoever, so their test results are completely honest. If a company fails their product test, they cannot ship their product to market, and they must retake the test until the product passes so they can get shipping clearance. Standards vary in every country (for example, Europeans are so much stricter than Americans in terms of product quality that they even have their own machines to do testing).
After asking all of our questions, we were given a tour of some of the testing rooms at the facility. We saw different physical tests that are done to fabrics to ensure they are ready for market. One machine's function was simply to open and close a zipper, and if the zipper was able to do this 500 times without fail, it passed. Other machines tested the strength and elasticity of the fibers. My favorite test to observe was the flammability test, which measures how long it takes a fabric to catch on fire. This is the only test that is required for all garments in order to be sold in the US, but it is especially important for pajamas and children's wear. BV also has a lab room dedicated to shoes and leather goods where they test the quality of the leather, the strength of shoe soles, and the security of high heels. Another test run by BV measures the light fastness of fabric by putting samples in a machine that shines bright light, and then observing how the color changes. Interestingly enough, BV has two different machines for this test: one machine for American products and one machine for European products. The reason behind this is that European standards for these tests are much higher than American standards.
After departing from BV, we headed off to Ramdhan Laundries, a company that specializes in finishing denim as well as other garments. First, we toured the denim facility. Ramdhan's major clients include Levi's, Lee, and Wrangler. Jeans arrive at the factory completely constructed, and all the jeans are made in factories in India. The employees at Ramdhan apply several finishing techniques, such as dyeing and ripping, and then send the garments back to the manufacturer to be sold in both domestic and international markets.
One of the processes we saw adds faded lines of texture to jeans. Employees can complete this step for 10-12 pairs of jeans in a single hour. They use a pre-constructed pattern so all of the jeans have the same design.
We also saw jeans being ripped to create destroyed denim. I really liked seeing this part of the process, because I often wonder how fast fashion destroyed jeans get their rips! They use tiny motorized saws to cut rips into the jeans.
Next, we saw how a white fade is added to jeans. First, jeans are painted with a purple spray paint. As it dries, this paint turns to a greenish brown color. Then, the jeans are washed and after being washed, the area that is greenish brown turns white, giving jeans a nice fade!
We were also shown a pair of jeans that was finished with water beading technology. When water is spilled on these jeans, the increased surface tension causes it to bubble instead of being absorbed. This finishing coat can last for up to ten washes.
In their other facility, Ramdhan employees add finishes to non-denim clothing. A majority of these finishes are wrinkle-resistant, so clothing can maintain a nice appearance free of wrinkles.
Ramdhan Laundries began 11 years ago, and currently they employ about 350 people. Similar to the other factories we've visited, employees work 8 hour shifts and the facility is open for 24 hours a day. But, we were surprised to find out that these workers are given Sunday's off as well as national holidays. I was really glad to hear that these hardworking people are given a break each week, and it really put the company in a positive light.
The facility generates about 400,000 completed pieces of clothing each month (around 15,000 pieces a day!). They have their own chemical plant where they produce the chemicals they use for their finishing process. They also do a lot of their own research and development, and currently they are working on implementing laser printing onto their jeans. I really enjoyed visiting Ramdhan. It was nice to see a factory that is treating their employees fairly and thinking ahead about the future of their company.
Our next stop was the Bangalore office for United Dry Goods, a giant clothing manufacturer. Mr. Ajit Khaitani, one of the higher ups at UDG, was the sponsor who paid for our India trip, so we were really excited to meet some of his staff and learn about his operations. We were greeted with a traditional Indian welcome, and each of us was gifted a beautiful colorful scarf!
One of Mr. Khaitani's good friends spoke to us about his experiences in India. Originally from Australia, he has been living in India for the past 15 years, working in the buying sector of the retail industry. It was interesting to hear about life in India from a western perspective, and he told us a lot about they ways of India's retail industry.
Then, we met the rest of UDG's team, which consists mostly of buyers, merchandisers, and product developers. They were so nice, and I spoke to one employee who is a merchandiser for the Justice brand, which is sold in the US. She told me that UDG produces all of Justice's wovens! She also explained that at UDG, they stay at the office until 10:45 PM most nights because there is just so much work to be done. It was fun to chat with some professionals in the apparel industry, and they also gave us some great Indian snacks!
We were given a tour of the office, where they make samples for the clothing that is eventually produced in factories and sold in stores. Much of UDG's products are sold in America!
We ended the day with a delicious meal at Mainland China (basically the PF Chang's of India) and headed back to the hotel to finally get some sleep!!!!!
-READ NOW: INDIA DAY 8, BANGALORE-