Aditya Birla group celebrates 60 years of linen with new store (With Images)

April 13th, 2009 - 2:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd, one of the pioneers of linen in India, paid tribute to the country’s most sought-after fashion fabric by launching a new store “Linen Club The Ramp” in the capital.
Linen, which came to India in 1949, courtesy one of the scions of the Birla clan G.D. Birla, completes 60 years in 2009. And the new store in south Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar area is the 26th outlet in its Linen Club Fabrics chain that promotes linen as a designer wear for the niche apparel segment.

It was inaugurated by the group’s brand ambassador Rohit Bal, who has been associated with linen for the past 19 years since he became a fashion designer.

According to him, linen is the easiest of the designer’s fabrics.

“I prefer to describe it as one of the top three fabrics in the country along with Khadi and Muslin. You can do almost anything with it - dye it, block it, wash it to make it softer and better. It is an incredible natural fibre that best suits the Indian climate,” Bal told IANS.

Linen is spun out of flax fibre imported from Belgium and France and grown in regions along the Mediterranean sea.

Bal likes to work with all kinds of linen - striped, checked and plain. “But ivory is my favourite colour,” Bal said.

Almost all his collections feature linen clothes and he says the fabric enables the skin to breathe in summer.

The “Linen Club The Ramp” offers a complete range of linen fabric, right from pure linen to linen blends with cotton, silk, wool, bamboo, lyocell, yarn dyed wovens, printed and embroidered linen.

Its range of women’s wear - mostly embroidered kurtis and tops in muted summer shades - and the men’s collection of office shirts and formal sherwanis stand out for the designs and user-friendly cuts.

“You can wear almost everything in linen,” said Bal, whose repertoire includes jackets, skirts, shirts and even sherwanis in linen.

The Linen Club chain, which targets the domestic high-end apparel market in metros, uses the expertise of Italian designers like Mario Talli and Raffaela Palmeiri to add value to its designs.

“The brand is very popular with leading apparel manufacturers like Color Plus, Loius Phillipe, Van Heusen, Allen Solly, Benetton, Blackberry’s and Levis,” said Abhey Nair, senior vice president of Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd.

The idea behind the new store was to capture the summer market, he explained.

India’s tryst with linen is linked to the growth of Jaya Shree Textiles, the country’s first integrated linen plant owned by the Aditya Birla Group. The sprawling textile factory located in Rishra on the outskirts of Kolkata.

“In 1949, the armed forces were importing a lot of flax material for bottling and storing water. But a foreign exchange crunch made it difficult for the government to import flax. It approached G.D. Birla, a textile pioneer, to provide an alternative to cut flax import cost. He purchased a second-hand plant from UK and brought it to India in 1949,” Nair told IANS.

Since then, the plant has changed technology and has expanded at least 10 times. “We are growing at almost 20 percent since 1949,” Nair said.

The plant, which has a capacity of nine million metres, manufactures six million metres of linen every year. The demand for linen, said Nair, has risen since India has woken up to high fashion.

“Even 10 years ago, nobody wanted to touch linen. But with growing number of Indians travelling abroad, linen as a fabric has undergone a complete evolution from a water bottling material to fashion fabric in the last two decades,” Nair said.

Essentially a high-end fabric, it costs anywhere between Rs.350 to Rs.1,500 per metre depending on the quality.

According to the company’s president J.C. Soni, linen is a hit with women.

“Nearly 70 percent of the consumers in Europe are women. In India too, women are using linen for everyday wear,” he told IANS.

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