Nepali Times
"One of the strongest Nepali brands in the international market"

Nepali Times: What is the difference between cashmere and pashmina, when the raw material used is the same?
Pushpa Man Shrestha:
You're right; the raw material for cashmere and pashmina is the same. But the standard we've set for pashmina is that the yarn used should be of less than 15 microns. Whereas cashmere is made with 19 micron yarn.

How can we brand the products as Nepali pashmina when all the yarn, dye and other raw materials used are imported?
Pashmina is one of the strongest Nepali brands in the international market. We were the first to market our products using that name. We're not self-sufficient in terms of raw materials but it is traditional Nepali craft which gives it its identity.

The sales of Nepali pashmina went down after fake pashmina entered the market. What is being done in response?
We've developed the trademark of 'Chyangra Pashmina', which is now registered in more than 40 countries. This will prevent duplication of Nepali pashminas and help maintain the standard of goods marketed under the trademark in the international market.

What about quality checks?

At present, we have no lab tests in Nepal that can grant internationally recognised certification. Manufacturers have to send out samples for quality certification to verify raw materials. But we're in the process of establishing an internationally recognised testing lab here by working together with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the quality department in Nepal.

How can a customer be assured of quality?
It's hard for even an expert to evaluate the exact quality of a pashmina just by touch. But if anyone sells you a 70/30 mix of pashmina for less than Rs 1,600 and a 100% pashmina for less than Rs 2,500, you know you're being duped.

Is the industry facing any particular problems as of now?
Nepal Rastra Bank provides loans at the rate of four per cent for exporters like us. But we haven't been able to get such loans from commercial banks, to whom we have to pay a rate of 13 per cent interest.

Weaving a brighter picture, PAAVAN MATHEMA

1. DG
World Class Sweaters.

Nepalese pasmina  sweaters are almost  world class.
It will be world class if they can be made non-pilling,anti-static,and free of fuzzy balls and lints.
Processes exists ; some of the best Italian  ones are  excellent in this respect. Why not learn or buy such process from them and become world class?

2. Sargam

'Pashmina Chyangra', the Nepalese brand

How the former US President Bill Clinton managed to win over the presidential campaign against another former President George 'W' Bush in 1992 by coining the phrase, �It's the economy stupid�, in the same manner, Nepalese pashmina manufacturing execs must fish out a new hype for the Nepal Pashmina Industries Association (NPIA) by inventing something like 'It's Pashmina Chyangra stupid' to make tilt in the minds of the future customers.

The reasons behind such an audacious strategy are multiple. No whiz kids of economy anywhere in the world could predict what would be the next economic catastrophe the world was going to encounter. While the developing countries such as BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are enjoying the growth of average 8 percent the already developed countries are passing through the tunnel of double dip recession. Is that cyclic or structural? You know probably the answer.

An assortment of Nepalese politicos and fixers whose blatant negligence only reminds me those failed political carcass who are confined to the stronghold of petty and visionless platitude, made Nepal's one of the most lucrative and prestigious markets of pashmina lose the whole sector of longtime earned fame worth Rs.7.5 billion in 2000 to go way down to Rs.1.5 billion in 2008/'09. When the government is deprived of economically oriented politicos a country fails to maintain in international markets all enviable positions by losing all exploitable business niche.

Fair enough, I remember to have alerted the then government via media in 2006 that the whole set of pashmina market was shifting to Shanghai for weaving and Mongolia for raw wools. But those sophomoric lot of politicos were so sure of their dogmas and sloganeering that when the Maoists came to power I still remember and that drives me to hallucinate with stupor when I remember those bygone days as to how the newly appointed finance minister stabbed in the back of the whole set of flourishing market by increasing the importation taxes of vehicles by whopping 200 percent.

Subsequently, Nepal is the butt of new pleasantries when folks converse about the niche of pashmina market. How can you make business in a country where those in power think that by increasing importation taxes you are not killing a whole sector of human activities but punishing those who have money. If those politicos were a bit smart and possessing commonsense they would have improved the infrastructure by enlarging the highways and by aggrandizing the congested streets of Kathmandu thereby fluidifying the whole circulation of downtown. But in their thick heads those who have money to buy and enjoy life are at fault to earn their living decently. What is the use of obtaining the PhD degrees if that make you develop such a blunt mindset, the very thought of it makes me cringe.

Now there is hardly any chance to recuperate the lost market. Because our neighbors India and China are indulged in a diehard and cut-throat competition and also in rehashing as well as revamping the world market in the middle of sticky patches. In Indian side some Italian ladies are so busy that they pass their most part of the year in Ladakh to entice all pashmina* or cashmere raw material producers by making them earn permanent income..

Whereas countries like Mongolia, Kazakhstan and the whole nomadic region of Changthang in Tibetan plateau of Sino-Indian border have industrialized the Himalayan pasturing of goats. As of now, as Chinese rich have also taken the haute couture as their pastime hobby, Shanghai's some quarters have specialized in producing Cashmere brand products industrially.

Those English language dominated countries neglect the whole market like France, Germany and BENELUX or the European continent because of their ignorance. Only the initiated individuals know that all fashion tendencies are first thrown in Paris one year in advance, because Paris is the Capital of the Fashion World since haute couture, gastronomy, perfumes, champagne, cognac, leather articles of high quality are invented by French. The �tiquette of savoir-vivre is first invented by French. Rest of the world just follows or secretly they are envious of French savoir-faire. Pashmina became � la mode because Jos�phine, the wife of Napoleon, was the first to have popularized pashmina shawls as a mode which she is estimated to have possessed 1000 in quantity in the early 1800 AD.

If Nepal wishes to make her special brand 'Pashmina Chyangra' a grounded and trustworthy brand the Nepalese pashmina industries must woo the great fashion houses like Channel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Givency, Gucci etc. which are all French societies. Even Italian Gucci is under French banner. And they are all based in Paris.

The law of supply and demand states that when demand is high prices will skyrocket, and when supply is high prices will drop. For now, most of the time in Parisian boutiques I can buy cashmere and silk mixed pullovers for less than 100 euros. Of late, fortunately I discovered a niche of open market where I could buy a 100 percent cashmere scarf for only 5 euros. Such a bargain price is really rare nowadays.

Millions of people are in search of rare objects. Human beings are made such a way that they want to always distinguish themselves from others and what they possess must be unique. This illusion pashmina with its touche of nobility can offer provided the pieces must be extraordinary. But now as Chinese are better merchants than Marwari and Jews they have invaded the luxury market with their fake cashmere of made in Shanghai like erstwhile Hong Kong and Taipeh were brazen tinseltowns.

Now Dubai serves as a honeypot for tourists.

I figure as Nepalese are always one or two trains behind the schedule none will wait for you to redress this lost market. Minus one competitor in the market there is nobody to regret it.

Without delaying anymore in those comments caught in a war of words, we must all militate in favor of Nepalese brand of 'Pashmina Chyangra' by crowdsourcing through the grapevine all over the globe wherever Nepalese have settled down.

Before Nepalese see the rays of light poking through the dark cloud of a feeling of deep despondency much homework is required to be done by clarifying the niche of market by applying the brand-new method of marketing

Without doing a serious lick of work on the part of Nepalese authority as well as the Nepalese pashmina manufacturing execs to comply with the finesse and the quality of hand-knitted works coupled with aggressive marketing savoir-faire of Nepalese to surpass both Indian and Chinese products, this caveat will be as useless as anything.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)