Focusing on trends for Autumn 2017, the 5-day long Indian Handicrafts and Gifts Fair (IHGF) 2017 organized by the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH) was a successful event as most of the exhibitors were happy with the buyers’ footfall and overall market condition. OP Prahladka, Chairman, and Rakesh Kumar, ED, EPCH shared their satisfaction about the event. Many other exhibitors, especially the middle-level home furnishing exporters discussed with Apparel Online about positivity in their business and some of them even confirmed about their planning for expansion, how they are geared up with their latest collections, their thrust over product development and future plans.
Most of the Indian exporters find any sourcing fair to be useful if they are able to meet their old buyers and get one or two new buyers who can place orders with them in the future. But this 44th edition of IHGF was even better as some participants informed that they got some on-the-spot orders too, which is rare. “The fair has been very nice as we received confirmed orders and also a lot of enquiries,” shared Durgesh Vijaivargia, Chairman of Jaipur- based Art Age which is a 40-year old organization having clients across the globe. Moving forward, the company is planning to have an office in US and things are under process in this regard. Their production will also be increased simultaneously. “The concept of our business is to reproduce antique looking products. As we have 12 designers, we focus a lot on product development and creativity always has an edge on tight pricing as price becomes secondary in case of such innovative products,” added Durgesh. Art Age highlights shaggy styles with embellishments like embroidery and other technics. As per Sanghamitra, Designer of the company, inspiration for such style is taken from Kutch and sketchy art works. There is a mix of traditional Indian colours with pastel colours found in the various products of the company.
Inaugurated by Smriti Irani, Minister of Textiles, the event witnessed visit by Ajay Tamta, Minister of State for Textiles; Giriraj Singh, Minister of State (I/C) for MSME; Anant Kumar Singh, Textiles Secretary and many other dignitaries.
Similarly, happy with the good buyer visitation at the event and thankful to the EPCH for providing this platform, RKPH Home (Ramakrishna Paramahamsa & Co), Seetharampuram (Andhra Pradesh) shared great positivity regarding further orders. Rajiv K, MD and third generation of the company who joined business two years ago stated, “Business seems to remain good in the coming season as buyers have shown positivity.” Offering a wide range of home products as well as apparels, the company started wall hangings, clutches and crochet patch about two years ago, and is now working to add gift items specially bags and some hard goods. Having strong customer base in Scandinavian countries and the US, the company works on earthy colours like ginger spice, lilac pink, grey, dark green which are a favourite there.
Despite having good response from this established event, few home furnishing exporters have some suggestions to add more value to the fair. Vicky Pandita, GM of Hansa Agencies, Delhi, who has been working with the company from almost two decades informed, “I personally feel that apart from handicraft, this fair should also promote home furnishing; and rather than just limiting itself to Indian exporters, it should have participants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia etc., as Heimtextil does. This will help to attract more buyers.” Working with companies like Pier 1 Imports, US and many top players, Hansa Agencies displayed some innovative products in which cotton handloom fabric was used. It also used different types of embroideries and tassel. Thread work was predominant in its cushions. “All these gave a very much Indian feel to our products, and buyers really preferred these as it created a niche,” added Vicky.
GLIMPSES… IHGF 2017
2,980 total exhibitors
5,995 overseas buyers
765 domestic trade visitors
Rs.3,150 crore, business enquiries
Ludhiana-based Pearl Exports & Imports also attracted buyers with its niche products as it focused on hand-knit products and that too in wool. Neil Behal, Design Director of the company briefed, “Wool is our base but we combine wool with other blends to offer innovative range of products. Apart from hand-knit, hand woven in wool, brush throws in wool was also appreciated by the buyers.” Hand-knit helps the needy people of the society specially women as these women knit the yarns at their home. Exporting to overall 22 countries including Japan, US, Europe, the company is moving next to tap Russia and South American countries as these countries have good potential.
Vaishali Thapa, Founder of Sharda Bimla Devi Hastakshar Foundation Trust, Gurgaon and handloom and handicrafts consultant, was anguished with the space allotted to her at the fair. She shared her anger on social media and wrote, “I worked really hard the last one year to come up with amazing work and when I called EPCH for a stall at the ongoing fair, I was asked to apply next year, with no assurance of a stall at the temporary mart! I was told that the temporary mart was only available from the second year onwards or I need to try my luck at the “non-rigged” draw system. I fail to understand that all the mart owners who have a permanent stall at the mart are given a minimum of 36 sq. metre at the temporary booth as well, because of which newcomers like me don’t get to participate and are forced to take up remote locations… where buyers only come down the aisle to use public conveniences, no help comes from the EPCH office despite complaints.” She further added that this is the same concern with all the mart owners who don’t have a temporary stall.
Some of the participants confirmed further investment in expansion programmes. Despite the continuous and diverse challenges within India and overseas market, they are motivated to grow. S. Subramani, MD of Hi-Power Textiles, Karur and textile engineer, is targeting to touch a turnover of Rs. 100 crore in the next 5 years while currently his 22-year old company is doing a business of Rs. 22 crore.
“Though it is difficult, we will keep trying for it.We are looking for more customers and expanding into all processes right from weaving, dyeing to stitching. We are putting a lot of efforts towards marketing. Our investment is nearly Rs. 25 to 30 crore which is in pipeline. Currently, we have 300 people in our company and will have a total of 1,000 people in the next 5 years,” shared an enthusiastic Subramani. The company has its own weaving and dyeing unit also. It is exporting mainly to US and UK, Germany, France, and working with buyers like Victoria Classic, Bed Bath & Beyond etc.