We at Luxire have tried to create a world class work environment, the guiding principle of which is happy people.
We thus meet and exceed all global norms for workplace environment and safely and surpass most by a long margin.
Our workers are paid well, they all have health insurance, are provided retirement benefits, clean toilets, they are never under pressure to produce beyond their comfort, there are multiple checks and measures to prevent any kind of harassment, are paid their wages on time and have excellent grievance redressal mechanisms.
We were recently visited by a customer, who had this to say about what he saw:
As mentioned a month ago, today I visited Luxire’s Bangalore facility for a talk with founder Ashish Arya and a tour of the factory. As promised, here’s a write-up of my visit featuring an (hopefully) interesting read for new and old thread followers alike.
Let me start this write-up by addressing an issue that I hope can be buried once and for all. On this thread, several individuals have raised concerns about garment production in Eastern countries, citing horror stories about exploitation and unworthy working conditions.
This is not the case with Luxire.
I saw the factory floor; it was clean, well lit and spacious. I spoke with several employees; they were all smiling, laughing and seemed to be genuinely happy about and proud of their work. Also, there were no monkeys.
Fusing a shirt placket
Luxire’s founder, Ashish Arya, left a decade-long banking career in New York to establish himself in his home country, India. Initially, he did a stint in the steel industry along with his father, but changed directions after a friend convinced him to take a look at the clothing industry. Shortly after this suggestion was made, Luxire became reality.
In its nascent weeks and months, Luxire was a four-man shirt making business in a 150 square foot room. Mr. Arya was in charge, flanked by a trusted cutter and two tailors. Over the 30 months that have since passed, they have expanded into an operation providing custom-made shirts, pants, suiting and outerwear, and most recently shoes and leather wares. Shoe making is difficult and still a WIP (I saw Betel's shoes while I was there ), but they're getting therhe bags are simply incredible. I want one, badly.
One of the sample bags
Mr. Arya (from now on called Ashish, because he makes you feel like you’ve known each other for years the moment you meet) explained that growing into a provider of a range of high-quality custom garments was the first major milestone of Luxire. As far as I could gauge, there are now around 35 tailors employed (cross-functional with regards to shirts and pants, more specialized with regards to suiting and outerwear) and a dedicated team of cutters, both overseen by a head tailor whose father was a high-end tailor during (and for) the British Raj. In addition, there is a leather-working team, a QC team, a fabric handler and an administrative team. The initial employees are still with the company.
The customer interface of this rocket growth has primarily been Theresa, who many of us know from this thread and as the spearhead of firstname.lastname@example.org. Ashish acknowledged, however, that customer service has suffered somewhat in the chase for expansion. That’s why “The New Nice”, as he calls it, is the next milestone for the company and something they focus heavily on currently – ensuring that every customer of Luxire has a completely pleasant experience throughout the purchasing process. Judging from the recent feedback on the thread, it appears it’s working out well.
When Luxire receive our specifications (specs which, I must say, are pretty OCD when you see them printed on paper), Mr Kabir Gupta, whom some might have noticed now replies to some of the e-mails to Luxire, and his team start by transposing the specs onto a company-standard notation sheet.
This sheet is passed on to the cutters, who use their professional judgment to implement the changes that aren’t easily quantifiable on a spec sheet. If it’s a simple order, a CAD-model is made and a CNC machine cuts the template before it’s finished by hand. More complex orders or changes to existing templates are done completely by hand. If an order requires changes to an existing template, the changed template is glued onto a copy of the old template. Hence, all iterations of an account’s templates are kept track of.
My pant template
The templates are stored in numbered plastic containers, and a spreadsheet makes it easy for the cutters to retrieve the right template for an order.
Meanwhile, the fabric handler finds the right fabric and takes notes of the order #, order size and how much fabric was needed to fulfill the cutter’s requirements. An interesting note about the fabric handling process is that when it comes to the more exclusive fabrics, the fabric is ordered from the mill at cut length for each order. In other words, ordering trousers in a “one-off” fabric means that a couple of meters of that fabric will be shipped to India for the purpose of making the garment.
Rolls and rolls of fabric
The fabric handler's notes
High-end fabrics (believe this was Holland & Sherry)
The final step in the production process is sending the detailed spec-sheet and fabric cuts to the tailors, who make the end product. According to Ashish, finding suitable tailors is the main barrier to scalability. He told me that they’re targeting tailors that have been sample tailors for the large companies that manufacture garments for mid- to high-end European and American clothing companies. The sample tailors are the ones who work on garments, creating and altering them before the buyer decides on a final design; hence they have experience working with detailed and dynamic specifications. These don’t grow on trees.
After the garments are made up, they are washed and processed through a preliminary QC where the submitted specifications are measured against the actual product. Then they are ironed and pressed, before they are measured again prior to shipment.
It’s also worth mentioning that everything happens on the same floor – Ashish and the administrative team sit a few meters away from the production area, leading to a rather integrated organization. During my stay, the tailors, leather workers etc. came over several times to get Ashish’s opinion on design elements, execution of one-off requests etc.
(On a side note, visiting the factory I also got to see some curiosities that long-time followers of this thread might remember, like this denim Noragi jacket!)
It was an amazing experience visiting Luxire’s HQ. I’m sure emptym, who’s visiting in a few weeks, will have the same experience. Ashish and his team are top-tier guys, and amongst the nicest persons I’ve met in India (which says a lot, as Indians are amongst the nicest people in the world).
Of course, they have their challenges still – the website being an important one, more digitalized record keeping would also be useful. Ashish seemed aware of and eager to overcome most challenges I could think of, but as Luxire is still a bootstrapping organization everything cannot be done at once.
But with regards to the process, quality, HR and general dedication to customer and product, Luxire is IMO right up there with the best in the world. Each tailor makes less than a shirt each day, a testament to the attention to details and lack of coercive pressure from the top. Every single detail is focused on, down to finding the right thread for sewing buttonholes. In making my Dugdale navy hopsack SC, they had found this beautiful navy silk thread.
Navy silk thread
Custom work on SC
This focus on quality in every link, from labor policy down to thread selection is in stark contrast to another garment manufacturer I’ve visited, who produced on contract for several US clothing companies. There, the workers were expected to churn out around 8 pairs of jeans each day, at an abysmal wage.
I'm deeply impressed by Luxire, and I wish Ashish and the team all the best for the future. I am very excited to keep following this company, both as a customer and friend. Now, please feel free to shoot me any question you might have, and I'll answer to the best of my abilities.
DISCLAIMER: I did not request nor expect anything in return for writing about my visit to Luxire. However, I received a small gift from Ashish at the end of the factory tour. The sentiments expressed in this text would, however, have remained the same regardless of this.