From packing his first order of 6000 shirts in a garage to styling and clothing the world, Dr. Deepak Kumar Seth has had a fascinating journey as a self-made entrepreneur. Dr. Seth started in garments in 1976 when he was only 26 years old and is regarded as a pioneer of apparel manufacturing in India. Today Dr. Seth is the founder and Group Chairman of four renowned apparel manufacturing, sourcing, and training groups operating in over 20 countries: PDS, Pearl Global Industries, Lerros Moden, and Pearl Academy of Fashions. All these companies are operated autonomously with their respective independent Boards of Directors and professional management teams. Early on, Dr. Seth identified the potential of the Far East region to be a major hub for the global garment industry and established business units to provide ‘one-stop’ manufacturing and sourcing solutions to best-in-class retailer and brands across the globe.

Making a mark in manufacturing In 1987, Dr. Seth founded Pearl Global Industries (PGIL), a ready-to-wear business supplying leading apparel retailers worldwide. Today, PGIL operates a global network of more than 20 manufacturing facilities in India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Indonesia, specialising in high-quality bulk output, employing 32,000, and generating annual revenues in excess of USD 400 million.

Under the leadership of PGIL’s vice-chairman, Pulkit Seth, the company is pursuing its next phase of growth, leveraging its multinational presence to scale up and react faster than its global peers whilst mitigating its risk exposure. PGIL has recently added nearshore manufacturing and additional production capabilities in the USA to its portfolio, continuing to fulfill Dr. Seth’s vision for it to be the preferred global apparel manufacturing company.

PGIL’s diversified product offering and talented team of 75 designers across the USA, the UK, and Spain ensures on-trend collections and a product available for rapid delivery in multiple time zones. The company’s factories in India specialize in woven and knit products for womenswear, menswear, and childrenswear, whilst those in Bangladesh specialize in sustainably washed and processed denim pants knitted tops. In Vietnam, the company manufactures outwear, athleticwear and swimwear. In Indonesia, it focuses on women’s tops, dresses and outerwear.

As a testament to PGIL’s exceptional customer service, 4 out of 5 of its top customer relationships are older than a decade and even more. “The beauty of our business is its entrepreneur model – our success has enabled us to attract the best talent from across the world, including from our competition and our associates in the market,” says Dr. Seth. Currently, PGIL is open to partnering with processing businesses – whether in the form of joint ventures or backward integration for processing, weaving, knitting and spinning– that can add value to its supply chain.

Technology and sustainability forms an integral part of the seamless manufacturing process at PGIL. Protecting environment, recycling all forms of wastes and to minimize carbon footprint is getting increased mindshare in all its daily decisions and activities. It is working diligently to ensure each of its produced garments have traceability information embedded. PGIL continues to upgrade with various automation, digitization, and de-skilling the factory operations, thus ensuring that they are scalable. Thus ensuring it meets the demand and timeline requirements. PGIL’s skilled workforce comprises industrial engineers, factory associates, compliance personnel, designer, and product developers along with management and analytic teams. They are working on updated technologies of 3D software like Clo, Browzwear, Optitex, eDesigner, believes in the concepts of industry 4.0 in its factories which are well integrated with the SAP ERP system. Each of its wash product developments are design to achieve low EIM (Environment Impact) score using much lesser water and chemicals.

PGIL is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) and has won numerous accolades from industry councils. Recently, PGIL won the Most Preferred Workplace 2022-23 by Marksmen Daily and India Today and The Best Organisation for Women 2022 by Economic Times.

An Innovative Asset-Light Sourcing Model Founded in 1999 in Hong Kong, PDS has emerged as an asset-light global sourcing platform for over 200 of the world’s leading brands and retailers, including Ralph Lauren, Kohl’s and Primark. Helmed by Dr. Seth as Chairman and Pallak Seth as Vice-Chairman, PDS offers world-renowned product development, sourcing, manufacturing, and distribution, synergising best-in-class talent to bring better collaboration across its global apparel supply chain platform.

PDS operates a vast global network covering over 50 offi ces and 22 countries, with over 3,500 employees and approximately 7,600 factory associates worldwide. Much of PDS’ recent success is due to how well it has embraced emerging market trends within the global fashion industry, which it owes to its experienced entrepreneurs, steady growth in new retail clients, and expanded product range. In the past 12 months, PDS reported consolidated revenues of USD 1.3 billion, an increase by 2X in the last fi ve years. PDS has been listed on the BSE and the NSE since 2014 and aspires to reach USD 2.5 billion in revenue in the next 4-5 years.

An intrinsically asset-light business, PDS is a plug-and-play platform comprising a league of entrepreneurs who run their businesses on the platform. As collaborators, individuals aspiring to start their entrepreneurial journey have become integral to PDS’ unique business, leveraging the PDS brand name and shared resources. Together, both parties meet their goal of providing innovative fashion solutions to global customers and partners in the most ethical and trusted way. In 2022-23, PDS’ India and Sri Lanka subsidiary Norlanka was certifi ed as a ‘Great Place To Work,’ exemplifying the company’s people-fi rst approach and values of trust, transparency, inclusivity, and respect.

PDS has a network of 600+ compliant vendor manufacturing facilities worldwide and product development teams across the USA, the UK, Germany, and Hong Kong, amongst other customer locations. PDS employs a research team of over 150 designers to ensure all products align with the latest trends in fashion and apparel, as well as experts in merchandising, procurement, and quality control to deliver 100% compliance across the entire value chain.

Brands and retailers are increasingly focusing on their core business to drive earnings and are opting to outsource to meet their sourcing needs. Pallak Seth spotted this opportunity and crafted ‘Sourcing as a Service’ –a bespoke service offering to large brands and retailers exploring outsourcing options exclusive to pre-agreed territories. This customised sourcing solution is operational with marquee customers like Hanes Brands in the USA, George at Asda in the UK and s.Oliver in Germany to name a few.

Besides sourcing from its partner factories, the company has three manufacturing facilities – two in Bangladesh and one in Sri Lanka. In January 2022, PDS installed a state-of-the-art Washing Plant in one of its Bangladeshi factories, further enhancing its sustainable profi le, funded by the Netherlands-based Good Fashion Fund.

Sustainability and circularity lie at the core of PDS in nurturing scalable innovations and shaping the industry’s future. Through its venture investment division – PDS Venture Tech – PDS makes early-stage investments, either directly or via collaborations, to foster the development of agile solutions for the future. Investing in opportunities that are in sync with its focus areas helps future-proof its enterprise and create value for the long-term. Some of these partners include True Global and Apex Black in the UK and Yellow Octopus in Poland.

Building Lerros Moden

Lerros, incorporated in Germany in 1983, designs, manufactures and distributes a range of men’s casual clothing and accessories in the mid-price segment under the name LERROS. Apart from the core market in Germany, LERROS distributes to almost all major European countries, including over 1,000 shops and department stores.

Pearl Academy of Fashions (PAF) & Creative Arts Education Society (CAES)

Dr. Seth founded PAF in 1993 to promote professional education in fashion design. PAF is a leading educational institute in India, spread across 4 campuses with approximately 5,000 students training for employment in the apparel industry. CAES was formed to impart quality education to young children and established a school named Little Pearl.

Giving back and building a self-reliant Community.

From the outset, Dr. Seth has instilled a strong CSR culture within the businesses he has created. Now, with his two sons managing PGIL and PDS, his time is spent running the various charitable organisations he set up, including Arpan – which offers free tuition to underprivileged children in India and Bangladesh between 7-12 years – and Meena Seth Clinic – which gives free medical aid and healthcare to those in need. “I’ve got a school where, when it’s empty in the afternoon, we use the classrooms to provide free education for kids from poorer communities. I’m also supporting retirement homes, leprosy initiatives, and some cancer foundations,” says Dr. Seth.