India is the second largest producer of silk-based products and one of the leading exporters of the same. But, last fiscal did not prove good for silk sector, especially exports as export of silk-based products was US $ 264.64 million in 2017-18, compared to US $ 315.84 million in 2016-17. But now, some positivity seems to have found its way as so far, from April-August 2018, export is US $ 122.78 million which shows a growth of more than 9 per cent compared to the same period last year. Similarly, the feedback coming from the industry is positive and this year, some improvement can be witnessed. Concluded in Delhi on 18th October, three days long 6th India International Silk Fair also gave a positive indication as more than 100 exhibitors from across India got a good number of buyers and good business can be expected in near future. Organizer of the event Indian Silk Export Promotion Council (ISEPC) does expect to generate business of over US $ 20 million. More than 145 buyers from across the world visited the fair. Team Apparel Resources explored various aspects of the silk sector.
Still, the major buyers of the silk products are those who really understand its value and realize the feel rather than the mass market like other standard fabrics like cotton or PC etc. Many Indian silk companies are expanding their base within their existing client base and are able to add a few new buyers too.
“This year, we have comparatively more demand from International buyers as the market seems to have picked up. We should have more orders as we met some new buyers too in the event,” shared, L. Radhakrishnan, Deputy Manager-Sales of Bangalore-based Chamundi Textiles (Silk Mills) Ltd. The company is purely into silk fabric manufacturing and it is further planning to start export of home furnishing products.
New and interesting products offered by some of the players is also one of the reasons to fetch more export orders. Socks, lingerie, undergarments, and umbrella made of Eri silk are a few of such products which are witnessing increasing demand from overseas countries. Mukesh Gope, CEO of Nilima Silk, Bangalore having its unit in Jharkhand is getting a regular order of such socks from Sweden which are further expected to grow. “Eri silk socks have natural qualities which work like anti-microbial finish. It is more skin-friendly than cotton as it has inherent thermostatic property and one can wear it continuously for ten days without washing,” Mukesh quipped. The company started these socks just 8 months ago. Silk melange tees is another new offering by the company.
Apart from buyers interested in just silk, the event saw some other buyers who were interested in buying fabrics other than silk too who were flocking the stalls of exhibitors selling non-silk based products. L.K. Mishra, Janki Exports, Delhi and Ayan Sadh of Ayan Collection, Noida were such exhibitors in the fair and they got good enquiries from the overseas buyers.
North Indian state Assam is the hub of Moga silk and SME players from there are coming up with more such interesting products. For example, Yana’s, Guwahati which is offering Eri silk’s umbrella is further planning to come up with silk lingerie. “Our Eri silk’s umbrella has a natural UV protector and we are working to make it waterproof. Our next target is to start silk lingerie as it is more sustainable and skin friendly than any other available product in the market,” Shared Kangkana Hazarika, Director of the company. She further adds that there is enough demand in South East Asian countries for silk-based products. Manasmrita T. Hazarika, Proprietor of Aarhi Shilpa, Guwahati who is also offering such innovative products added that such products do help to manage price pressure as silk is a costly fabric.
Sustainability aspect is also motivating some SME players to expand in this segment. Prabhjyot Bedi and Ankita Jajodia who have been into this trade for more than a decade and are known for offering silk fabric etc. under Mayuri Silk, have now come up with handmade organic scarves, yoga pants and allied products which are majorly for the overseas market. “Pure & Simple is our new initiative in line with the ongoing wave as we are now also focusing on handmade organic scarves and yoga pants. Buyers have reacted positively on these offerings and we are expecting orders of the same,” the duo maintained.
Delhi-NCR is also witnessing emerging designers who are promoting silk and such fabric-based garments. Interestingly, small but new firms are also entering into this segment. Sutasta, an initiative of Rohini Prasad, the trained fashion designer is just one and half year-old firm and is offering Khadi silk is perfect such example. “I am promoting Bihar’s silk as well as crafts like Madhubani printing. The garments I am offering do not require any dyeing or processing. So far, I have good business and now with the participation in an event like India International Silk Fair, I am expecting few overseas buyers too,” added Rohini.