Lost in the din of furiously-debated issues and dwarfed by giant-size brands are the innumerable small-time stores and feisty initiatives that keep doing cutting-edge and exemplary work in the field of fabrics. Almost all of them don't waste their precious resources on advertising, and instead rely on the time-tested form of word-of-mouth publicity. That works wonders because such testimonials stand for credibility. Many of these diminutive businesses are suppliers to leading fashion designers, and embody something that big brands spend precious resources for: the trust factor. Meher Castelino profiles two such initiatives.

Vimal Textiles: Maintaining quality control

The fabric business in India is usually familydriven. Therefore, it was not surprising that Vimal Doshi followed his family business in fabrics and started Vimal Textiles in 1999.

The manufacturing takes place with exclusive weavers in Jamnagar, Varanasi and Bengaluru, but the company does import some fabrics from China-mainly 70 gm georgette on which the lucknowi chikankari is done. "Since the majority of Chikankari is done on georgette, we order nearly 2,000 metres per month from China," says Doshi, whose company creates a variety of fabrics.

"We have our own weavers and factories in Lucknow, where the weavers weave in front of us. All our lucknowi/chikankari lehengas, saris, kurtis, kurtas and sherwanis are hand-made by them. We believe in promoting them and their talent, which also ensures employment for a number of female workers. Apart from that, we also have linen, khadi, georgette, silk and cotton." Nearly 1,000 metres are produced in a month, and Doshi is the creative brain behind the designs presenting six collections a year- with 15 new designs in each range. 

While Doshi doesn't like to reveal the names of top designers who buy from him, it's believed that Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Manish Malhotra are the company's regular clients. The minimum quantity is 50 metres and maximum 3,000 metres, but prices are flexible and affordable starting at 300 per metre and moving up to 3,500 per metre. The lead time is 45 days to weave 100 metres since the hand embroidery by karigars is done in different parts of India and requires personal quality control. "We ensure that the quality is 100 per cent authentic with just 10 per cent rejection, and that there is no mix of machine work or any other chemicals."

When it comes to working with designers, their requirements are normally for an initial 50 metres for samples and then over 100 metres at a time. According to Doshi, there is a great demand for chikankari, linen, khadi, bandhani and chanderi-in that order. "People prefer more of pastel and earthy colours since those are in fashion and more appropriate for summer. Chikankari is one of the fastest moving fabrics. Apart from that it is linen and khadi in pastel shades."