Brand cashmere: Fashioning pashmina to regain its lustre

“So far our e-commerce portal has received great response from the United States and Middle East apart from the expected response from India,” said Shahdhar.
Brand cashmere: Fashioning pashmina to regain its lustre
File Photo

If you are a fashion and handicraft buff, the Armanis and the Guccis of the world might soon be passé, as recently introduced Kashmiri brand 'Phamb' is out to take the luxury apparel market by surprise.Atleast in the famous Kashmir pashmina segment.

Behind this entrepreneurial zest lie dreams of 25-year-old Junaid Shahdhar. What started eight months back as a venture to diversify pashmina, Phamb Fashion Pvt Ltd is now eyeing to launch two to three retail outlets, starting from Srinagar and Delhi, besides participation in a dozen odd art exhibitions in different countries.

"So far our e-commerce portal has received great response from the United States and Middle East apart from the expected response from India," said Shahdhar.

Bringing his pashmina brand truly on the art and craft map of the world did not just need Shahdharto do an MBA but to become a fashionista by heart.

"Although I belong to a business family and my father used to supply raw pashmina but diversification of pashmina needed much more. It was about connecting to the weavers and at the same time reach out to the suave market out there," Shahdhar said.

From understanding nuances of Phamb or the unprocessed pashmina wool with help of the Kashmiri Karigari Union to roping-in city-based Silk Route Consulting Firm for promotion and marketing of his products, Shahdhar is doing whatever it takes to make his pashmina products to reach every corner of the globe in an all-new avatar.

Shahdhar is aware of the problem of fake products and misbranding of Kashmiri pashmina, which was once so famous world over that it got named after Kashmir, as cashmere wool, and still is known by the same name in most parts of West, South East Asia and China.

"Dealers who are misbranding pashmina are committing a sin and bringing bad name to Kashmiri handicrafts. Even if one is selling mix pashmina, let him be clear to the customers that it is a semi-pashmina product," said Shahdhar. "To deal with this problem, we will provide a bar-coded certification to every pashmina shawl to authenticate the product."

For Shahdhar, being associated with pashmina has meant to actually be connected to the artisans and at the same time tap the domestic and global markets. Despite having toured the Middle East and keeping in touch with trends that attract the Italian clients, the heart of Shahdhar's business actually lies in the urge to create a social impact.

"We provide free raw pashmina to a group of women weavers in Khonmoh since there are very few spinners now available in the city. To ensure that we cut the role of the middle man, and the pashmina weavers get their due profit is the aim of our initiative," said Shahdhar.

For Shahdhar though there is literally no looking back. But he still keeps his partnership in a metal trading business. As for future plans at Phamb are concerned, the list is long. 

Shahdhar is planning to launch a 'Pashmina Washing and Caring Unit', which will dry-clean Pashmina and cater to clients with traditional activities such as 'Roufu'.

Apart from the traditional pashmina shawls and stoles, this young entrepreneur is cashing big on a concept called ' made to measure'. "We will provide the most well fitting customised Pashmina Blazers, Sweaters and Kaftans. All you need to do is leave your measurements on our website,," Shahdhar informs.

A host of luxurious pashmina products – including pocket squares, ties, blankets and traditional wear, are already in the pipline to be launched by Shahdhar in May. "All the media attention should not make me the star but help pashmina to regain its lost lustre across the globe," Shahdhar said.

Greater Kashmir