Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chyangra Pashmina: Nepal's pashmina trademark

Published in MyRepublica on 2010-01-21 23:36:01
PM unveils Pashmina's int'l trademark

KATHMANDU, Jan 21: Pashmina manufacturers on Thursday unveiled the international trademark, Chyangra Pashmina, which they registered in 31 countries to re-establish pashmina as a typical Nepali product and reclaim its lost glory in the international market.

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal launched the trademark. “This is one good move that has come at the right time, when we needed to reclaim international markets to fight mammoth balance of payment deficit,” said Nepal, congratulating the industry men.

The registration has established pashmina, a Nepali name for the finest fur extract of mountain goats, as a typical Nepali product and defined pashmina items as commodities that have well-defined material content and traits.

The definition and trademark has established exclusive rights of Nepal over pashmina items. This will enable Nepal post three-fold rise in its exports, said officials of Nepal Pashmina Industries Association (NPIA).

“Once the brand name is known all over the world, our exports will bounce back to previous record of over Rs 7 billion,” said NPIA President Shankar Pandeya.

Nepali pashmina items had gained sudden acclaim in the international market and carved out niche markets in late 1990s. after fashion magazines associated the product with high-profile personalities, including the UK´s royal families.

That exposure soon boosted pashmina´s exports to Rs 7.5 billion in 2000 from Rs 360 million of 1997 and expanded its market to as many as 75 countries.

However, failure in maintaining quality and aggressive marketing of cashmere products as pashmina by India and China soon started to displace Nepali exports, dragging exports down to Rs 1.5 billion in 2008/09.

Furthermore, heavy use of viscose yarn, acrylic wool, soybean fiber and poly-yarn and marketing substandard products as “pashmina” had dented the image of actual pashmina. “Now no foul players will be able to mislead the buyers. Trademark has also compelled us to adhere to stipulated standard," said Pandeya.

Under the code of conduct approved by the association, only those pashmina products that ensure 95 percent purity of pashmina, contain at least 51 percent pashmina and use pashmina yarn up to 17 micron thickness only will be tagged as Chyangra Pashmina.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

William Safire on Pashmina

The Way We Live Now: 1-16-00: On Language; Pashmina
By William Safire
New York Times, January 16, 200

Do advertising tricks -- those hidden persuasions of the huckster class -- get your goat? If so, consider what has been done to the Capra hircus, a hairy wild goat that likes to graze along the mountainsides of the Himalayas.

For generations until 1684, the maharajah of Kashmir had exclusive rights to the underfur combed from the throat and belly of this cold old goat. The maharajah's domain was spelled "Kashmir," a land that remains in dispute even today between India and Pakistan, but the wool was spelled "cashmere."

Though sometimes challenged by exotic fabrics like vicuna (who now remembers what kind of coat Bernard Goldfine gave Sherman Adams?), cashmere has long been known as the finest wool that money can buy. That meant, of course, that it had to be topped by a wool even more rare, available at a higher price, to warm the skin of those late-arriving arrivistes who could learn to scorn the harsh feel of the cashmere worn by the riffraff.

Shahtoosh is a no-no; that "king of wool" comes from the Tibetan antelope, an endangered species. Enter pashmina, pronounced pash-MEE-nah, a new name to create the illusion of a new goat with softer fur. The linguistic trick is to use the Persian word for the mountain goat's fur and to ignore the name of the place -- Kashmir, pronounced cashmere -- where the weaving into wool is done.

Pashm is the Persian word for "wool," or more specifically, ''soft wool from under the throat of sheep or goats.'' In 1880, Mrs. A. G. F. Eliot James in ''Indian Industries'' wrote, ''The pashm, or shawl-wool, is a downy substance, growing next to the skin and under the thick hair of those goats found in Thibet and in the elevated lands north of the Himalayas.'' Thirteen years later, a British natural history magazine explained, ''It is this pashm of the goat of these regions which affords the materials for the celebrated Kashmir shawls.''

Pashmina is the Persian word for ''woolen,'' with a feminine ending. A couple of years ago, the pashmina push began. ''Finer than cashmere,'' touted one catalog, ''extraordinarily soft, warm and lightweight.'' Scarce; higher-priced; a gift even more eagerly sought after by the uxorious luxurious.

In The Wall Street Journal in November, Lauren Lipton shot it down: ''Sit down, fashionistas: Pashmina, this most hyped of fabrics, is not a particularly premium kind of cashmere.'' She quoted textile-science sources scoffing at the promotion and cashmere industry sources saying: ''Cashmere is the hair of the cashmere goat. Pashmina is the same goat.''

Pashmina marketers were quick to bleat that cashmere fibers were usually 15 microns thick while pashmina's were a few microns thinner, and their product was woven on a warp of spun silk. You can believe that if you're a Big Spender. A company calling itself Nepal Pashmina Industry, in Katmandu, honestly begins its product profile with ''pashmina (better known as cashmere).''

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Where to buy a fake pash in the Big Apple

According to Julie Blumenfeld, one of the nice things about life in the City is the omnipresent vendor. Among the great bargains is "the ideal outfit-coordinating essential: the Pashmina scarf." Best place to get your $5 pash? "Outside the New York Public Library on the corner of 40th Street and 5th Avenue. There is usually a vendor stationed there in the Fall who offers the largest color and pattern selection of Pashminas I've ever encountered."

Thanks for letting us share, Julie!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nepal pashmina exports soar

KOL news; posted on Nepal 1st

KATHMANDU, Aug 6 - The export of pashmina products soared by 243.8 percent during the first 11 months of the last fiscal year 2008/09.

According to Nepal Rastra Bank, Nepal exported pashmina products worth Rs. 1.23 billion, whereas exports during the same period in 2007/08 amounted to only Rs. 375.9 million.

Shankar Prasad Pandey, president of the Nepal Pashmina Industries Association (NPIA), said that the rise in the export of pashmina amid the world recession was satisfactory. "We have been facing the effects of the recession, but it has not hit Nepali pashmina as hard as expected," said Pandey.

He added that export performance had been enhanced by the export of high quality pashmina products and appreciation of the U.S. dollar against
the Nepali rupee. Pashmina sweaters, blankets, tunics, party wears and boutique products are some of the major high quality products.

Karken Tangboten Gurung, managing director of Everest Pashmina Knitting and Weaving Industry, said that the overall situation of pashmina exports till date was satisfactory. Everest Pashmina is one of the five largest exporters in Nepal.
"Exports have improved in recent months, but the major challenge is how to maintain the pace," said Gurung. "There should be provision of income tax waiver, loans at subsidized interest rates and labour flexibility to help the pashmina industry and increase exports."

According to the Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal, pashmina is one of the major handicraft products that is exported to more than 40 countries worldwide. The U.S.A., Germany, the U.K, Japan, France, Canada, Italy, China, Switzerland and the Netherlands were the top 10 buyers of Nepali pashmina during the last fiscal year.

Nepali pashmina has already received the trade mark logo in Australia, Norway and Japan. The NPIA is trying to get the brand logo registered in the E.U. and 11 other countries in a bid to guarantee quality and stop fake products from being passed off as Nepali pashmina.

KOL News

Friday, October 2, 2009

That Bloody Holiday, again

September 19 to 28: It's that time of year again. Dasain. (The word is often spelled Dashain, but that is misleading, as the "sh" is really just an aspirated "s" - barely distinguishable from an ordinary "s," to our ears - and not the digraph /sh/ as pronounced in shawl.) Ten days of joyful merrymaking in Nepal, a month-long holiday for schoolkids. Our embroiders will be off-duty for at least two weeks. Thousands and thousands of buffalo, goats, and chickens slaughtered in public sacrifices. Why? Theoretically, the festival commemorates the victory of the goddess Durga over the demon enemies, particularly the awful black buffalo demon. In fact, it's basically a fall harvest festival, like our Thanksgiving -- only we generally slaughter our millions of turkeys out of sight on industrial poultry farms instead of in the middle of towns and cities for all to enjoy. (Except in Wasilla, Alaska.)

Although, shamefully, many foreigners are attracted by the spectacle of tens of thousands of buffalo, goats, and chickens being beheaded and spattered about, we bleeding hearts at Bridges-PRTD have always made an effort to stay out of Kathmandu, away from the Hindu population enters, during this festival. In Rolwaling Valley, where we do most of our work, there is a Sherpa holiday intended to help the milling souls of the slaughtered animals find their way quickly to the next life -- hopefully in a gentler, kinder, vegan world.

For a more knowledgeable view of this holiday, read our friend Sanjay Nepal's latest blog entries.

Spoiler: No slaughter in this clip. Not much English, either.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sunrise Pashmina Moves Mountains!

Well, not exactly. The guys who handle Internet distribution of Tsering Choekyap's pashmina products via Sunrise Pashmina are also the instigators behind Mountain Legacy, a Nepali non-governmental organization (similar to an American non-profit, or 501-c-3); one of their new projects is Moving Mountains: Journal of Sport for Development and Peace. Take a look at the [inchoate] Web site, and see if you might be interested in joining the Steering Committee!

India claims the brand -- and that's just fine with their fakers

One thing that is native to India is fakery. In fact, the word derives from fakir, a Sufi holy man (and by extension holy men of other religions); these guys are famous for all sorts of tricks such as fire-walking and snake-charming. India doesn't have a monopoly on fakery, but the fact that India has assigned Kashmir ownership of the "brand name" pashmina should not fool anyone. They may come up with some new scams, but they didn't invent the word, the fabric, or the accessory.

One year of GI status, fake Pashmina continues to be sold as brand Kashmir

From the Daily Rising Kashmir
Rashid Paul
Srinagar August 17: Fake Pashmina continues to be sold as brand Kashmir due to lack of labeling mechanism despite one year lag since Geographical Indicator (GI) registration was awarded to Kashmir Pashmina.
In August 2008, the Chennai based G 1 registry awarded community ownership to Kashmiri Pashmina, Sozni and Kani shawls. The Craft Development Institute (CDI) Srinagar which mooted Rs 10 crore laboratory facility in Srinagar to put a stop on selling of fake shawls is yet to be approved by the government. “Fake products in and outside valley continue to be sold as brand Kashmir,” said M S Farooqi, director CDI.

Mohammed Ashraf, a local shawl trader also complains that some unprincipled traders were mixing synthetic fiber with Pashmina. The same shawl is then sold as Kashmir brand which fetch them lakhs of rupees. The stuff looses its sheen after one wash resulting in bad name to the product and its place of origin.

Use of synthetic material has rendered hundreds of men and women jobless and the government is appreciating the same stock of traders, Ashraf said.

Ali Mohammed, president of Tahafuz, an organization of artisans seeking protection and promotion of Kashmir handicrafts said that Kashmiri businessmen dealing in Pashmina trade smashed it. It is a pity that the government is sleeping over the issue.

Mohammed Iqbal, a senior executive of the organization said that a two kilogram pack of fine wool used in Pashmina may cost up to Rs 10000. The deceitful traders get the same pack in adultered form at Rs 2500. The stuff is then fabricated on machines and sold in the market as Kashmir Pashmina, he said

To combat the menace the CDI director suggests a private initiative. If the government has failed to deliver, let the businessmen initiate stamping and fake detection facility, immense direct and indirect benefits will flow, he said.

The CDI had proposed a lab involving identifying real Kashmir Pashmina and tagging it with radio frequency identification (RFID) chip. The wafer thin chip could be coded with information about the manufacturing source and product specifications.
A buyer can read the tag and send the information to a centralized station meant for its validation.

Official reports put the woolen shawls exports at Rs 420 crores for the year 2007-2008.