KATHMANDU: Cool and light cotton fabrics are the perfect choice for summers and monsoons when humidity and heat make life hell. When these fabrics are crafted into reasonably priced attire, they hold an incomparable charm. That allure is evident in the
affordable and comfortable cotton garments manufactured by Design Fashion (DF). Prem Malla, owner of DF, undertook the bold decision to set up a garment factory in 2010, when the Nepali garment industry was almost threadbare and in tatters. Malla says, “As the export business was in the doldrums, I initiated manufacturing garments in Nepali sizes and designs by collecting fabric from different
According to him, he chose the name of the company to denote that it is a place where Nepali raw materials are designed into fashionable attire for Nepali customers. The company manufactures different kinds of cotton products like shirts, tops, dresses, quarter pants, trousers, et cetera especially for ladies.
“Our target customers are women of all ages, and we stock a variety of products according to Nepali sizes,” Malla informs. The price of the tops ranges between Rs 300 to Rs 500, whereas the rest of the products are priced between Rs 500 to Rs 675. According to Malla, their most popular products are the trousers, and all their products are 30 to 40 per cent less expensive compared to imported dresses. The cotton business is seasonal, garnering the maximum trade between March to August, with almost no transactions taking place during winter months.
But Malla explains that cotton is a fabric for all seasons, as it cools body temperature during summer and keeps it warm in winter. According to Malla, the unique selling point of DF is the quality of the fabric, which neither shrinks nor fades even after several washes. He says, “To ensure the quality of our products, I personally guide workers through the stages of measurement, design, style and finishing.” As customers usually complain about poor finishing in Nepali products, Malla is especially mindful to provide a fine finishing touch to them.
Stating that he has been encouraged by the customers’ positive response since the last seven months, Malla says, “Last year, we produced 100 to 150 units per day, but this year we are manufacturing 200 units every day. Nepali people are gradually warming up to the goodness of cotton fabric.” This demand has encouraged Malla, who plans to extend the manufacturing scale and outlets to different places within and outside Kathmandu valley. It currently has five authorised distributors in Pulchowk, New Road, Sundhara, Pokhara and Dhulabari. The annual turnover of DF is around Rs 1.5 million, and it currently employs 12 workers at its factory located at Shantinagar. Till date, the company is sustained through word-of-mouth and customer recommendation.
Revealing the existing competition among similar products, Malla says, “Since most Nepali garment comp-anies are on the decline, very few of them work with cotton fabric at present. Hence, there is no competition at all among Nepali products. However, we have to compete with Chinese and other synthetic mixed products.” According to him, they are facing hassles due to the unstable government, insecurity, unfavourable business environment, labour problems and lack of business-friendly provisions.
“The government is indifferent to the deteriorating scenario compelling industrialists to shut their factories. It should take steps to introduce and reinforce security, business-friendly laws and tax reduction facilities for manufacturing companies. If these steps are taken, it is no big deal to provide inexpensive local products to customers,” Malla suggests. His aim is to establish DF as renowned brand with excellent products in the near future.