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The potential and growth of India’s cotton home furnishing industry

Cotton is one of mankind’s greatest discoveries. It is one textile commodity which is extensively used in the fashion industry. India is the largest producer and exporter of cotton yarn, currently at 18% of the global total.

Cotton plays an important role in the Indian economy by contributing around 5% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 11% to total export earnings. Moreover, the cotton industry is the second-largest employer in the country after agriculture. It provides employment to over 51 million people directly and 68 million people indirectly.

Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, and Madhya Pradesh are the leaders in cotton production.

The history

Cotton industry’s history in India dates back millennia. India has been producing cotton for about 3000 years and has held a global monopoly since then. In the ancient times, cotton served as a medium of exchange in the barter economy system. Eastern and European markets have been importing cotton since the middle ages.

Post the industrial revolution, the first cotton mills were set up in 1818 in Kolkata. The 1870s saw an exponential growth in the cotton textile industry in India. Majority of the cotton mills were constructed in Mumbai. Since then there has been a continuous increase in cotton mills and the production of cotton.

Market Growth in India

Cotton has a strong overseas demand and hence the cotton production has been on a rise since the mid 1800s. The Indian government has also supported the textile industry by creating several export promotion policies and allowing 100% FDI.

The current textile industry’s market estimate in India stands at Rs 17,000 crore and is growing consistently at 9% annually. India also sells all the four varieties of cotton, which has helped India in maintaining the lead cotton producer role globally.

India’s textile market is growing by leaps and bounds. Another reason for this growth is the shift of people’s focus on home furnishing and decor. Growth of housing, office, hospitality and healthcare sectors has fuelled cotton’s demand as well. Indian customers are not hesitating to spend money while investing in home or office decors.

Over the past few years, the demand for furnishing products like bedspreads, curtains, rugs, carpets, cushion covers, table covers, linens, and other such accessories has doubled. This is the reason that home textiles and furnishing sectors have become an important part of the textile industry.

When lockdowns were enforced in countries due to the COVID pandemic, homes were converted to offices and schools. This led to a more than 200% rise in growth of the home furnishing industry. The rise is synonymous to an increase in demand for cotton. Some trends that have been driving this growth are:

Home or Office

The post-pandemic world has created a new-wave of buyers who would be looking for a home plus office kind of a setup. Even many companies are trying and testing hybrid models where a part of the employee population works from home permanently. So, the new homes would have to be remodelled, redecorated, and redesigned to accommodate new lifestyles.

We, at Thoppia, have tapped into innovation by amalgamating traditional weavers’ skills with modern design to provide a one-stop hoe décor solution to their customers.

Luxury & comfort

With the rise in the affluent population, luxury home items are no longer limited to the rich. There is an increase in demand for crafted furniture, ethnic rugs, hand-woven home décor items and many such unique and innovative items.

People are not hesitating to spend more to make their homes look more luxurious and cosy as it’s a reflection of their lifestyle. Moreover, people are spending a lot of time in planning, thinking, and researching the products that would suit their home.

Kitchen items

The pandemic has brought with it an increase in the demand of kitchenware and appliances. People are looking for unique and smart solutions to make their tasks simpler in the kitchen. Moreover, customers have high expectations even in small products like linens, towels, mats, aprons, and other such items.

Marketing to Millennial

The next generation is moving out of their house for work opportunities. As per the current market trends, millennials are looking for fully-furnished homes to save themselves from the hassle of buying home décor items. This group focuses on quality and has the finances to invest.

The millennials are also amongst the most travelled and hence their inspiration comes from experiences they live in other countries.

Digital Revolution

No one can underestimate the power of the digital medium as it is very appealing to a large customer base. It has helped grow a lot of businesses by providing them a global platform. Even small scale businesses from Tier-2 & Tier-3 cities have their e-commerce website to sell their products globally.

The textile industry has also leveraged the benefits of the digital platform by providing smart solutions to customers. By introducing ready-to-use products, the product purchase has become simpler. This has increased the demand of cotton home furnishings online which in turn triggered an exponential market growth in this industry.

All the tech-savvy customers who are looking for beautiful and stylish home décor solutions are benefiting from online stores.

Thoppia has also entered the digital domain and given a platform to traditional weavers to showcase their products. It has a complete range of home furnishing products from kitchenware, living spaces, bedrooms, washrooms, and other home décor accessories.

The bottom line

There is definitely a growing trend in the cotton home furnishing industry which might have slowed down due to the pandemic. But the industry is again picking up and demand for smart, unique, innovative, durable, and sustainable products is increasing. The buyers have many choices in front of them due to the e-commerce boom.

But, it’s always advised that they should pick the brands that offer superior or premium quality products. And as it’s said, ‘Home is where the heart is’, so choose products that are worthy of your home and lifestyle.

India’s cotton home furnishings market – An overview

If there was an award for the most popular and versatile fabric in the world, it would probably go to cotton! Offering a wide range of colors, patterns, weights and textures; this easily washable fabric is also durable, and drapes attractively. No wonder it has become a favorable fabric choice not only in the clothing industry, but also in the making of home furnishings.

Needless to say, cotton plays a vital role in India’s economy – in employment, export and industrial output. Also, India has emerged as one of the fastest growing markets for home furnishings in the Asia-Pacific (APAC).[Source: India Home Furnishing Market By Product Type, Competition Forecast and Opportunities, 2010 – 2020” Report – Research and Markets (US).]

Buying habits

When was the last time you, or someone at home, bought a furnishing product? Like curtains for your living room windows, cushion covers for the sofa, or maybe 2 or 3 bath towels with a luxurious texture? Items like these can be changed every season, to instill novelty and break the monotony.

We Indians often get new bedsheets, table linen, curtains, rugs etc. during festivals or any special occasions. With the advent of social media and quick spreading of information, almost everyone is able to keep track of emerging trends, what’s hot and what’s not.

Representing personalities and lifestyles

Don’t we all see our homes as a reflection of ourselves?

The furniture, furnishings and the overall decor at home are being used to reflect people’s personalities, tastes and lifestyles like never before. People are also well-travelled, taking inspiration from products and lifestyles in other countries, to incorporate it in their own homes back in India. So, they shop furnishings accordingly – be it readymade or customized.

Nobody just picks something off local malls in a jiffy. Now, we plan, think, overthink, look at a variety of options, compare colors and designs, see what suits us, visualize what suits our home, compare prices, check out the products in other stores…. It’s a long and time-consuming list. More and more people want sophisticated home furnishings and home decor products. Purchases are not confined to those moving to new houses – even those looking to redo or revamp their homes and office spaces buy new ones.

There is a growing trend in the use of sustainable products, which is also giving a boost to the country’s cotton home furnishings market. It is a very fragmented market though, and the end-users are not limited to homeowners. They include segments like residential and commercial sectors, hospitality, healthcare, etc.

The online boom

As a cherry on the cake, several furnishing retailers have successfully established online stores – benefiting the media-savvy customers who also keep tabs on global trends. These e-commerce platforms provide the latest and luxurious cotton products along with easy online navigation and appropriate methods of payment. Some even have features that allow for customization of furnishings, making it even more convenient for customers.

Being able to easily shop for cotton home furnishings online, has led to the market growing even more aggressively. More and more Indians are using the internet, actively interacting and seeking information on social media, and being conscious about having beautiful and stylish home interiors. So it is not surprising that the Indian cotton home furnishings market has been booming over the last decade.

However, buyers need to become more aware and mindful – to only invest in furnishings of superior quality. Products that are not only stylish, but also durable and sustainable. Because your home’s worth it.

How much do we really know about our Handloom Industry?

India is a diverse country with a rich history of weavers. In 2015, the Union Government declared August 7 as the National Handloom Day, to be celebrated every year. It was done to celebrate hand-weaving of clothes, throw light on the contribution of handloom to the social and economic development of the nation, and promote India’s handloom industry and its weavers.

Weaving Loom

Yet, not many of us know much about India’s handloom industry. And it is rife with its own set of issues. Here, we have compiled a few facts that you need to know, and can enjoy reading and sharing as a tribute to Indian weavers and artisans on this Handloom Day

  • In India, the handloom sector directly or indirectly employs more than 4.3 million people.
  • India’s handloom contributes to 95% of the world’s handwoven fabrics. (PIB, 2017). Yes, this is something we should be proud of.
  • The weaving industry is the second largest employment-generating sector in India, second only to agriculture.
  • But why was August 7 chosen as the National Handloom Day? Because it was on August 7, 1905, that the Swadeshi Movement began before India’s independence. It celebrated our indeginous fabrics, products, weavers and artisans, supporting and promoting them against the British ones. We are now commemorating this day.
  • If you have ever seen someone weaving, you know it is not as simple as it looks – though skilled weavers do it effortlessly. But what are they doing, exactly? Intersecting the longitudinal threads (thrown across), called the ‘warp’, with the transverse threads (woven), called the ‘weft’.
  • Weaving is quite complex work, including 3 primary motions of shedding, picking and battening, along with other secondary motions. Watch a weaver at work, if you ever get a chance.
  • According to certain archaeological studies, people of the Harappan civilization knew weaving and spinning. And that was more than 4,000 years ago!
  • A block-printed and resist-dyed fabric originating from Gujarat, was found in Fustat, Egypt by archaeologists. This shows that even in ancient times, India was famous for weaving exquisite fabrics and exporting them to other parts of the world.

The Indian handloom industry has grown a lot, but weavers continue to face hardships due to mechanization and power loom products. We at Thoppia are happy and humbled to have skilled and dedicated weavers operating on our handlooms and involved in every step of the process, helping to produce beautiful and authentic products.

Thoppia – The art of weaving, mastered

Weaving is the process of interlacing fiber threads to make textiles. It is a remarkable craft which utilizes wooden tools such as looms, frames, and shuttles. An incredible art in and of themselves, these tools have been used by the traditional weavers of India to weave quality garments since ages. India is still one of those countries that creates its textiles from the magic looms of the master weavers.

Mr. Bhaskaran

When he’s not traveling, one can spot him behind the lengthy bundles of colorful threads, weaving elegant fabrics out of his loom. Even at the age of 73, Bhaskaran is not ready to retire. All this because, he has made it his mission in life to revive the fine tradition of cotton weaving in India. His craftsmanship is embellished with a sense of pride in what he is and what he creates.

Mrs. Kanaka

What does it mean to be a woman with an artistic craft? It requires the courage to step away from the mainstream and limiting ideas of femininity. She is just one among many compassionate handloom weavers of this land of master weavers. With an eye for detail and graceful efficiency, Kanaka weaves extremely fine threads of cotton.

Mr. C Mukundan

Combing through the 60-meter-long threads, C Mukundan sits to take away knots and glitches from the fabric to make them loom-ready. This passionate weaver is the first one to reach the mill and the last one to leave. He has a unique eye for detailing and the efficiency of an excellent weaver.

Mr. Govindan

Govindan, the 72-year-old independent artisan, strongly believes in earning for himself and has an undying will to continue his passion. He is an expert in winding, warping, and weaving.

These are some of the master weavers of Kannur, who makes the land – the Land of Looms and Lores. Regions and communities throughout India have unique weaving traditions. But with a distinct quality, custom and pattern, fabric from Kannur have always stood out in the international market with much pride and glory, the land where thoppia also started its story decades ago. Customers from around the world appreciate the beauty and quality of the fabrics from Thoppia for the same reason. The generation of these expert weavers are sure to guard the weaving tradition in the coming years and will not let the looms lie lifeless.