Chetan Popat – Unplugging Sports Persona’s rendezvous with sportswear apparels biz
12 November 2020: The strategy behind having multiple printing options in the garment printing industry under one roof is gaining popularity. This enables service providers to offer a one-stop-shop solution to clients for all their fabric printing and garment decoration needs with flexibility.
Interestingly, Chetan Popat is a unique garment decorator. He is an Automobile Engineer (BE) from Mumbai University and holds a Diploma in Graphic Design. He worked as an Automobile Surveyor & Valuer for a few years after graduation but his diehard passion for sports and as an active sportsman, he switched profession and entered into the world of designing and manufacturing sports apparels as a natural choice.
Ideas Unplugged was established in 2008. Till 2015, he outsourced the processes and catered to many corporates for all their sports apparel needs during internal events and the Mumbai Marathon. The company finally invested in printing infrastructure as part of the expansion process.
Today, the company offers a range of services that includes both finished products as well as printing services in addition to creating customized designs as per client needs. The company manufactures and prints a wide range of merchandise like sports apparels, cotton T-shirts, caps, bags, etc. “We cater to clients ranging from walk-in customers with a small, fully customized quantity to high profile corporate clients. Over a span of 13 years, we have supplied our products and services to some of the bigger names in the corporate world like TCS, Deutsche Bank, Hiranandani, ILFS, Standard Chartered, Bank Of Baroda, Harrisons Bags and many more. As some of these companies have branches all over the country, we have supplied our products to their branches all over the country,” says Chetan Popat.
Explaining the idea behind his company’s strategy of having multiple printing choices, he adds: “Since we have multiple printing facilities with us, we get clients with a wide range of demands. Some want their logos in vinyl, some come to us with demands for customized sports apparels with individual names and nos. and others approach us for specific prints on readymade cotton T-shirts.”
Expressing his views about DTG and sublimation printing technologies, Chetan says “From our experience, we can confidently say that DTG printing is the future for cotton T-shirt printing. So far as the sports industry is concerned, sublimation is the best and only option available and will be there for a long time to come. The demand for enhancing the look of the garment with special metallic or reflective vinyl tapes along with printing is on the rise.”
His opinion about screen printing “Over the years, we have executed many orders for corporates where Screen printing was needed. For such orders, we outsource the printing to professional screen printers and execute the orders. Screen printing may be losing its charm a little because too many local vendors have entered into the market and the quality of work has dropped drastically. Also, most of the screen printing is done with Plastisol and not water-based inks anymore. Having said that Screen printing will never be replaced totally as it remains the best and most economical mode of printing for single colour jobs as well as multicolour jobs if the quantities are large.”
Sharing his views about the impact of COVID-19 on garment printers, Chetan says “It has hit us badly because we essentially fall, in the luxury item category. Currently, the mindset is that even if one needs to buy a T-Shirt, he will but a plain T-shirt which will cost him less than a printed t-shirt. It is more about survival at the moment.”
He adds “At this stage, it is still unknown as to how things will pan out shortly for the fashion industry. This is the ideal time to not just sit and waste time but to learn something which could help in developing the existing business but also open new avenues to generate wealth. Eg. I utilised the lockdown period to learn some digital marketing courses and also brushed up on my designing skills. Now alongside my printing and designing business, I can also present myself as a digital marketing professional to potential clients who are looking for a freelance digital marketing professional to manage their business online. At the moment I am an accomplished design studio owner with multiple printing options for the fabric and garment industry.”
Revealing his company’s future strategy, he says “We are very positive because having multiple options under one roof, we can offer more and different ideas to our clients where they can still decorate their garments or fabric in different ways, save money and still have some form of customization on their product. To enhance our chances of sustaining the odds in the current scenario, we are in the process of presenting ourselves as a complete drop shipment agency.”