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Kulu shawl industry surviving on stilts
Oct '09
The tradition of producing famous Kulu shawls is in the phase of extinction. A survey in this respect has been conducted recently by an NGO, My Himachal with the students of the SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai.

The survey revealed that this shawl making industry needs an effective marketing strategy for endurance. Following this survey, the NGO has offered a marketing mechanism to the state government in order to perk up this unique handicraft industry.

Steps for the revival of such a unique industry would also prove to be helpful to boost the state economy. Negligence towards popularizing this industry has taken its toll on the spirit of shawl weavers of Kulu as well as on the interest of buyers.

This is resulting into the gradual loss of interest in the art of shawl making that has a huge cultural linkage to the Kulu Valley. Original Kulu shawls are very warm, dyed with organic, eco-friendly and non-toxic dyes, and are long lasting.

Due to lack of awareness regarding the original ones, buyers get tempted to fake and cheap shawls sold under the name of Kulu shawls. The fake hand-woven Kulu shawls are mainly sourced from Ludhiana.

Power-loom weavers of Ludhiana are the major threats for Kulu shawl weavers as they sell their produces at cheaper rates due to the availability of low cost raw materials. These fake shawls attract buyers with their rich and fine designs and a broad range of colours.

This makes it difficult for the consumer to distinguish the original Kulu shawl from the fake one. Originality of the shawl can be found out from its design if it appears same on both sides of the shawl.

Apart from this, trademarks of original Kulu weavers on the shawls signify its authenticity. The government and weavers' cooperative societies in Kulu have been taking steps in this direction to prevent imitation of famous and traditional Kulu shawls.

Though the government of India has introduced a handloom mark to certify that the product is handcrafted, there is a major reluctance for stamping this mark, as both, weavers and consumers are not aware of the importance of this mark. However, few weavers have featured this handloom mark on their produces to establish their credibility.

To curb the imitation of shawls, the district has acquired a geographical indicator (GI), which signifies that the product has been handcrafted in Kulu. If consumers and manufacturers are made aware of the authentication marks, the Kulu shawl industry can see redemption.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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