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Shawls: A retail market wrapped in feminine grace

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Preferred by a number of women during winter season as a means to protect against cold, the humble shawl is now transcending beyond its functional utility, becoming an integral part of the fashion accessory segment in India. And its not just the shawl anymore which is a prominent winter wear accessory. Its spin off s – the stole and the scarf are gaining in popularity as well.
These accessories are coming out of the closet, with more and more women indulging in them and sporting them for a more stylish look. And brands are taking note, off ering these fashion accessories in modern and trendy designs, while keeping their traditionality intact. Brands off er a wide variety of products from shawls, scarves, stoles, mufflers, lohi shawls to wraps and shrugs. These warm wraps come in a variety of designs which can range from intricate weaves to fancy and delicate embroidery. They come in an array of luxurious fabric like pashmina, cashmere, wool, silk and linen, as well as in a variety of blends.
The Market
Key players in this segment are primarily focused towards cleaning up the adverse effects of an unorganised market by providing unique and attractive high quality products offerings. Major players are expanding their consumer base and are progressively passionate about adopting latest fashion trends.
Primarily targeted at women consumers, shawls, stoles and scarves are increasingly being consumed by men and children. Renowned brand, Red Riding targets young girls who love to experiment with their style. The brand has a huge range of products to off er in woolen and fur such as scarves, stoles, shawls, ponchos, woollen wraps, etc. Lately, it has expanded its range to include products for middle aged women as well.
A new entrant in the market is Modarta, which was launched in 2018 by Kamakshi Gupta, a NIFT alumnus. Modarta specialises in embroidered and printed scarves, stoles and shawls in cashmere and silk for both men and women. These cashmere stoles are hand embroidered in India and handwoven in Europe, South and East Asia.
According to Gupta, Cashmere stoles and silk satin scarves are the latest in demand. “They add an interesting touch to the otherwise monotonous winter colours and outfits, where they can be styled in several ways,” she stated.
According to Bhuvan Ahuja, Director, Ahujasons, every woman with a refined palette and a discerning style is their customer. He said that defining customers on demographics is passé and a rather myopic view of driving business is in. “Today, people are happy to experiment with colours and motifs, and they are looking forward to new techniques in surface ornamentation,” he said.
The Pashmina Shawl
The Indian Pashmina shawl is among the world’s most in demand and fastest selling apparel accessory for women. Pashmina is a fine type of cashmere wool, harvested from different breeds of cashmere goats during their annual molting season. The wool is gathered through shedding or shearing. The Pashmina shawl has to pass roughly through 36 stages to reach the final shape. As many as 36 categories of skilled and semi-skilled professionals are involved in making Pashmina shawls. A Pashmina shawl is so soft that it is weaved mixing silk yarn to give it some stability.
Ahujasons, which specialises in pashmina shawls, has made strong presence in India and global markets. It is committed to nurturing the heritage craft of shawl-making and supporting the community of weavers and craftsmen engaged in this trade. “We are the largest treasure-trove of Pashminas in the country and there is years of goodwill that draws Pashmina purveyors from the world over to us,” stated Ahuja.
The brand has set up a state-of-art facility equipped with fully computerised jacquard power looms in a bid to produce the most intricate Jamawar Pashminas. Their work spells quality, beauty and exclusivity of their products – attained through all round excellence, a dedicated team of skilled weavers and professional designers.
However, today the word ‘Pashmina’ is used indiscriminately, and many scarves made from natural or synthetic fiber are sold under this name, creating confusion in the market. To curb this confusion, brands are introducing innovation in fabric and textile with multiple bases like silks, linen, cotton, mohair and cashmere besides the obvious wool. They are focused on experimenting with new blends to light weight product ranges.
Other Variants
The fashion industry is highly competitive in nature and requires continuous innovation and development especially in case of product design and improvement with changing consumer trends to drive the growth of the fashion accessories market.
Modarta currently focuses on cashmere hand-embroidered shawls and stoles. According to Gupta, they are a great alternative to the otherwise expensive pashmina shawls. “Our stoles start from Rs 5,000 and go on to Rs 15,000. They are authentic and of premium quality,” she said.
Besides Pashmina shawls, Ahujasons has undertaken innovations in Kalamkari and Gulabdar handworks. “These shawls instantly add an air of luxury to the fashionably crafted collection,” shared Ahuja.
“Pashmina is no longer viewed as a preserve of the elite. Shawls are available in diverse price ranges to fit every customer’s pocket,” concluded Ahuja.

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