ezma’s wrapturous yarn
 Ezma’s pashmina and cashmere shawls are sensuously soft and come
 in an unbelievable range of weaves and colours
 SAY SAMEER MEHRA and you could be                 say this was fortuitous, because Mehra              genius at his workstation and in-house factory
 virtually spelling out the name Essma–so          donned the mantle of the family business            in Gurgaon, Haryana.
 synonymous are the two with one another.          early in life, culminating in a scholarship at
 When boys his age possibly wielded                the prestigious Wool Research Organization          LL: What exactly is the difference
 sophisticated toys of the digital variety, the    of New Zealand, at the behest of the New            between cashmere and pashmina?
 young Sameer, currently the Executive             Zealand government.                                 SM: Pashmina is just cashmere–there's no
 Director of Essma, accompanied his                     From then onwards there was no looking         difference between the two. Pashmina is
 grandfather, MG Mehra, to his textile mills and   back for Mehra, who infused a new passion           simply the Indian word for cashmere. This
 played around with piles of wool. Some would      into the whole textile business. The brand-         amazing wool comes from the capra hircus
                                                   name Ezma is Mehra’s brainchild and is the          goat found in the most remote regions of the
                                                   outcome of an initiative which took the fine        Himalayas. Because they live at such high
                                                    art of weaving to another level. Mehra             altitudes (approximately 14,000 feet above sea
                                                      introduced a new R&D venture to explore          level), these special goats grow a uniquely
                                                        the possibilities of artistically converting   thin, inner coat of hair that insulates them
                                                         precious and exotic fibres such as            during the long, harsh Himalayan winters. It
                                                         cashmere and vicuna into textiles by the      is this inner coat of hair that is used to produce
                                                         amalgam of western technology and             fine pashmina. This hair is stunningly soft and
                                                        traditional Indian weaving.                    comforting to the touch, yet is surprisingly
                                                            Apart from an elite clientele in India,    strong and durable and could last many
                                                         Mehra’s company also has an exclusive         lifetimes. And it takes the entire growth of
                                                          repertoire of international designers,       three goats to create just one pashmina shawl.
                                                          such as Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and
                                                         Ralph Lauren, who are supplied with           LL: How is the natural fibre for
                                                        design interpretation and textiles. The soft   pashmina obtained? Are the animals
                                                       sensuousness of Ezma’s cashmere scarves,        harmed in any way?
                                                       wraps and shawls, in the most exquisite         SM: We collect the fibre either by shearing or
                                                       designs and colours, have to be seen to         combing the animal during the moulting
                                                                   be believed. There is innovation    (shedding of hair) season. The goats moult
                                                                          in style and technique       during the spring season for a few weeks. Hand
                                                                               and the products        sorting is followed for coarse hair that is
                                                                                exhibit         the    moulted, after which, the fibre is washed to
                                                                                 contemporary          remove dirt and grease; next, a process called
                                                                                  and           the    dehairing removes the coarse outer guard
                                                                                  traditional in a     hair, at the end of which the pashmina is dyed
                                                                                 breathtaking array    and is ready to be spun into yarns for weaving
                                                                                 of shades and         and knitting purposes. The animals are not
                                                                                  textures.            harmed in any way.
                                                                                   Living met up       LL: What is Ezma’s USP?
                                                                                   with         the    SM: We have four decades of experience in
                                                                                    charming and       the trade. My father pioneered shawl making
                                                                                    pioneering         on jacquard. Ezma has an exclusive shawl

72                                                                                                         INSPIRATIONAL DESIGN IS THE ULTIMATE LUXURY
division that aims to reflect India's heritage in presenting
the pashmina, cashmere, jamavaar, angora, camel hair
alpaca and diverse wool blend collection. At Ezma, we
give certified authority for the purity of our products;
we have certification of the Woolmark and Woolblend
Mark from the International Wool Secretariat. Our prices
are controlled and we retail from select outlets, such as
The Oberoi hotel in Delhi and Khajuraho, Hyatt Regency,
Maurya Sheraton and some major Taj hotels in the
country.We use our own yarn and all the processes such
as spinning, weaving, dyeing and finishing of wools are
done in-house, therefore the purity of our products is
    For instance, Ezma’s plain shawls use a 2-ply
configuration instead of a single yarn. We use a 254-ply,
which is double that of the ordinary one. This translates
to a superior quality in terms of fine gossamer. We have
also introduced the most difficult and exclusive art of
kani weaving, which is a series of eyeless wooden bobbins,
called kani in Kashmiri, and is filled with coloured yarns.
This replaces the shuttle used in ordinary weaving and
enables the actual designs to be woven into the fabric of
the cloth. At our factory, the customer can actually place
an order for his shawl and watch it take shape on the kani.
    Our company also aims at minimising
environmental pollution by using environment-friendly
dyes instead of harmful chemicals and azo dyes.

LL: Could you tell us something about your range
in shawls and wraps?
SM: Our collections do us proud in terms of weaves,
colours, textures and the fact that they are a blend of
the traditional and modern. There is the elegant Ezma
Paislyon collection, based on the early 18th century
paisley shawls of Scotland and France; the Elegancia
collection, with its exquisite new patterns and colours;
the Melange, Natrale and Classique collections; plus
Ezma’s special collection of exotic wraps, which include
the Vicuna Peru, which are hand-woven shawlsin
superfine vicuna; Paper Mache, embroidered and
decorated shawls, and a unique blend of hand-painted
and embroidered shawls by Vinod Nair. And, of course,
our popular Kashmiri kani shawls. Our “showstopper”
will be the Ezma Souffle collection, which is a 60-gm
wrap. You can fold it up and carry it with you in your
bag. You can sling it around your chiffon sari in summer
or wear it like an odhni with your salwar suit.

LL: Who are your target clientele?
SM: Our shawls sell at Rs 4,000 onwards, so they are not
unaffordable. Besides, shawls have an emotional
attachment to them, they are given away to honour
people. It’s my fervent dream that every woman should
use a pashmina shawl and enjoy doing so.

June 2009 | www.lifestyleliving.in                             73

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