Happy Lohri and Makar Sankranti everybody…… celebrations of these winter festivals gave me a reason to write about a niche brand in wraps and shawls Kashmir Loom; a creation of Jenny Housego and her Kashmiri partner Asaf Ali together with his brothers in Srinagar. Their “Lena cashmere” (commercially known as Pashmina) from the changra goats found only in the high altitudes of Tibet and Ladhak,as soft as a baby’s skin, is wooing the hearts of plenty world over. Their luxurious wraps, shawls, stoles, scarves and capes are handcombed, handspun, handwoven and hand embroidered in Kashmir by local women on the traditional “charkha”– hand wheel spin; finally endorsed with their Farsi logo.
Making the most of the rich Indian handlooms, techniques like Kani have been revived very beautifully, along with traditional silks and cottons e.g. Mulberry, Muga, Eri and Tasar, by the Kashmir Loom weaving centres around India. Innovations in design eagerly keeps them on their toes- a unique one being metal thread woven with Cashmere, perfect to draw the affluent international clientele. Quality being par excellence helped them clinch a deal with an iconic French luxury brand known for its leather and silk products. Off and on they have also done individual projects with an upmarket Indian brand Anokhi, proving their ingenuity.
Irresistible vibrant coloured classics with a modern twist– woollen accessories in merino and lamb’s wool are anything between Rs.1500-Rs.5000, cashmere collections between Rs.6500-Rs.5,00,000 and silks or cottons justifiably Rs.1500 onwards. Men’s fashions are also catered to with jackets, kurtas, scarves and shawls. Hop over to Hot Pink in Jaipur, Le Mill in Mumbai, at Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad and their flagship store in Nizamuddin East, New Delhi, to view their collections. Being a luxury product it is retailed at high end boutiques world over in cities like Tokyo, Bali, Bangkok, Singapore, Istanbul, Moscow, Berlin, London, Madrid, New York, Washington, Chicago and San Francisco, to name a few.
“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts”- Edward R. Murrow, seems to be Jenny Housego’s tagline; a textile historian, who left her native England for India over twenty-five years ago to immerse deeply in R & D of India’s rich textile heritage and different aspects of the craft. Twelve years ago, in 2000, her passion for Indian and Middle East textiles culminated into Kashmir Loom– mission of sustenance and support for the vital handicraft industry in this scenic but tumultuous valley…. allow it to compliment your wardrobe by upping your style quotient.