The charkha at our store is not a décor piece but a symbol of what we do and shows how our bestselling pashmina shawls are spun using it,” says Siddharth Saigal, owner of Wrap Studio. The charkha is not the only item at the store that indicates what the label–specialising in handspun and handwoven pashmina–stands for. A miniature hand loom is also given pride of place in the 2,200-sq-feet store at Shahpur Jat, New Delhi.
Every neatly-stacked piece at the store—be it a shawl, stole, muffler, scarf or pocket square—is made with yarn spun on either a charkha or a hand loom by the in-house team of over 400 craftsmen. “Even the wool we use to create pashmina is de-haired at our own unit in Kashmir,” Saigal explains.
After decades of exporting pashmina to the US, Dubai, Japan and Europe, Saigal decided to get into retailing and opened his own store in 2008. The action was limited in the initial years, as Saigal concentrated on getting together his retailing act. But now the store is ready to create a buzz.
Not so much for its shawls, which are gorgeous and enjoy steady sales anyway, but for the new women’s prêt line that includes oriental and tropical-themed, digitally-printed long jackets, floral and jungle-themed blazers and earthy-toned robes, all made of pure silk.
The label may have been catering to women since its inception but now there’s also an extensive apparel line for men in the offing. Beyond the usual suspects like scarves and mufflers, Wrap plans to offer its gentlemen clients pashmina robes, hand-painted pocket squares, scarves and jackets. “This is not the first time that we have created something for men but yes, the line up is more innovative and exhaustive than before,” Saigal says. In 2010, the label had showcased a menswear line—with reversible six-yard shawls, scarves and mufflers—at the Kolkata Fashion Week with actor Sanjay Suri and director Onir walking the ramp for the marque. The collection was appreciated but had few takers back then. “I wish more men would drop in at our store by themselves instead of being dragged here by their wives or mothers,” Saigal confesses. He is, however, optimistic that the new collection will do well as “men have evolved over the years”.
There’s a 15-member design team working on the new range at Wrap. The team is also working on expanding the inventory for summer, which is largely perceived as a ‘non-pashmina period’. The range includes silk jumpsuits with digital prints, kaftans, cotton and linen jackets and stoles made of silk-wool blends like sahbano, zafran and shahinoor. Saigal says his designers work closely with the craftsmen who produce the yarn, create fabrics on looms, hand-paint the pieces and embellish them with Swarovski elements, kalamkari and zardosi. “Our Kashmir unit produces only the pashmina products, everything else is crafted at a unit in Gurgaon,” he explains. Which is how Wrap’s customers have the luxury of having their shawls customized (fabrics, design and embellishments) as per their choice. “It can take a month to finish one shawl and involves a lot of hard work, patience and investment,” says the proprietor. The fourth-generation exporter is passionate about pashmina and hands over a write-up on the material with every item sold at the store. The literature explains the heritage of pashmina. Saigal’s passion for it lurks between the lines.