Special Correspondent

Bangalore: Today's garment industry has machines that turn out scores of parts of a shirt or pair of trousers within minutes. They even stitch hemlines and buttons. But behind the machines are people ranging from famous designers to humble garment factory workers. The dress you see hanging in that rack in a big store has all their efforts behind it.

The Garment Expo-2007, a national vendor development programme and industrial exhibition began on Thursday at the Small Industries Service Institute (SISI), Rajajinagar, and will close on Sunday. N.L. Narendra Babu, Rajajinagar MLA, inaugurated the event.

According to SISI officials, there are 110 stalls, representing micro, small and medium garment units, and a few large factories, from as far away as Jaipur and Gujarat and from across the southern region and from the metros of Mumbai and Delhi.

From within Karnataka, there are participants from cities like Chitradurga and Gulbarga, where traditional motifs and skills have been blended into garments of some of the world's most fashionable women and men wear, little knowing their origins or that something like a mirror-work top is worn by thousands of tribal women in north Karnataka.

Almost taking one's breath away is an embroidery machine from Korea. The single-head automatic embroidery machine can place more than two lakh stitches in place in an hour and copy the most intricate of designs; all computerised.

Bangalore region alone has close to 5,000 garment units, most of them catering to overseas buyers who place bulk orders. SISI officials say between 20 and 25 per cent of the output of even mid-sized garment units are exported.

"We have realised the enormous export potential of the garment industry and this is the reason why vendors have been invited to display their products. Agents for foreign buyers too are expected to visit, collect samples and book orders from fashion houses and department stores overseas," said an official.