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