For Indian football fans, there will be still something to cheer at this year's football World Cup. No, they will not find their national team playing there.
But the jerseys worn by the German captain Michael Ballack and his men and the T-shirts of the spectators will have the "Made in India" label in June, thanks to the resurgent Indian textile industry.
The Mumbai-based Eskay K'n'It has got an initial order to supply 15 lakh pieces of T-shirts from T-Com, a German telecom major. The company is a premium partner of the German Football Association and the 2006 World Cup to he held in the country.
As part of its marketing strategy, T-Com will hand out special custom-made T-shirt to every spectator entering the stands. The total demand is of 150 lakh T-shirts. Moreover, Eskay K'n'IT is also expecting an order to make jerseys for the German football team.
"We had supplied about 400 T-shirts to Germany in July 2005 when qualifying rounds were on. We had made jerseys for players and referees," says Navin Kumar Tayal, chairman of Eskay K'n'It. Later on T-Com asked Eskay Kn'IT to supply 2.5 lakh pieces for a trial run of its marketing strategy. Incidentally the same strategy was used in the previous World Cup held in South Korea and Japan in 2002.
What makes these T-shirts special? "A special treatment Weiking finish is used to make the t-shirts. This enables the outer side of the fabric to suck sweat from the inside, keeping the players fresh," says Tayal.
The company also imported dyes (five times the cost of the normal one) from Germany. The 100 per cent polyester T-shirt, which has the traditional German black-red-yellow stripes, is made of three different kinds of fabrics. The T-shirt has already featured in T-Com's television ad for the World Cup.
Apart from Eskay K'n'It, a few unnamed Tirupur-based companies are also supplying the T-shirts to T-Com in smaller numbers. Eskay K'n'It, a fabric-making company that diversified into garments last year, also supplies basketball jerseys to Steve and Barry's, used in the American NBA league.
The T-shirts for T-Com cost about $ 4 per piece. But as Tayal says, "The cost is too low compared to the publicity T-Com will get through the T-shirts." It will also be an opportunity to showcase the Indian textile industry.
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