Logo fashion industries is a joint venture company that was established in Nepal in 1997. Co-founder Hira Muktan has been in the garments industry for the past 25 years. The head office of the industry is in Dubai and they had a branch in North Cyprus before they decided to open a factory in Nepal.
The industry exports their clothes to private companies, most of which are located in Europe. 90 percent of their clothes go to Germany and the other 10 go to countries like UK, France, Italy, Austria, and Slovenia. Although they say they aren’t a very big company, they are surviving because they provide a one-stop solution for their clients.
They have designers in Germany who work tirelessly with young designers in Nepal to create dresses and garments that are in vogue. The clothes go through rigorous checking before they are exported or sold in their four factory outlets in the valley. These outlets are situated in Jhamsikhel, Sankhamul, Bhaktapur, right next to their factory, and Le Sherpa.
They have fabric suppliers all over the world, China being one of the major ones. “You really realize what having a sea port means to the development of a nation,” says Muktan as he compared the situation in Dubai and Nepal. The money that is spent in transporting tons of fabric through ship is a lot lesser than the money spent on small amounts of fabric by air.
When they first opened, he recalls, the other companies used to say that they were spoiling the workers by over paying them, when they paid their workers just Rs 7000 every month. Labor was cheap here and they were making a difference in the lives of a lot of people. “We even bought more land, hoping to expand and create labor camps on site so that they wouldn’t have to travel far to work,” says Muktan. But they had to shut down in 2002 due to the political unrest in the country. The Maoists and the Army made it impossible to run the factory so they stopped production here and moved back to Dubai. After 13 years of being shut down, they have only just reopened the factory here and started production.
“We realized straight away that things were nothing like how we left it 13 years ago,” he says. But there are still problems. There is not enough workforce in the country to sustain industries. People have gone abroad, especially to gulf countries, to work. “I don’t think anyone has thought about how the country will sustain these people, returning from the gulf, no longer able to work,” says Muktan. With his factories and the boom in startups, he hopes that people will stay back and work in the country. “One of the most disheartening things is that we train people for months, finally get them to produce the quality of clothes we are looking for, and they come with a visa and tell us they are leaving,” he says.
The consumers in Nepal are generally uninformed about the products they buy. They spend hours looking for good makeup because they have to apply it on their skin, but they don’t have the same standards for clothes. “They forget that it’s a second skin that comes in contact with their skin all day long,” says Muktan.
He recalls people picking up things they liked, and then making a face before putting the product down and moving away because it said ‘Made in Nepal’. He also recalls seeing other factories labeling their products that were made in Nepal with the tag ‘Made in Vietnam’ and such. He believes lack of pride and trust in local products will continue to cause a lot of setbacks for people trying to do something for the country and its people.