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Indians go for expensive bed linen

December 08, 2007 13:55 IST
As the great Indian spend-fest continues unabated, the home - especially the bedroom - seems to have become a zone on which a growing breed of super-rich Indians are lavishing their large supplies of disposable cash.

After all, if you've bought a house/apartment that's worth crores, it doesn't do to sleep on bedsheets that cost a mere Rs 500, does it?

It's a gap that's not escaped the attention of a number of players in the field of premium bed linen. Look around the shops and you'll find a wide range of branded products, in a spectrum of colours, that could not be had even a few years ago.

At the lowest end of the category you have good ol' Bombay Dyeing - which now has a tie-up with designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee for a signature range that is priced significantly higher. Then, there are other recent entrants like Spaces (a brand from Welspun) and Four Seasons, followed by brands like Maspar.

Prices here start from around Rs 600 for a single sheet and go up to as much as Rs 5,000 for quilts and duvets.

For the really high-end stuff, you may not have had much choice till now, except perhaps at Ravissant whose range of designer home linen has prices (for bed spreads in embroidered silk) going up to Rs 18,500. It is this category that is now seeing a lot of activity.

First off the block is A K Enterprises, promoters of Magppie, the brand of premium, primarily steel, home accessories, which launched Maishaa, a luxury brand of "home fashion" textiles, in the run-up to the festive season this year. Available at around 30 high-end home-furnishings stores like Jagdish Stores, OMA, Muslin, Yamini and Seasons, Maishaa claims to offer features "unheard of in the Indian market".

Among these are a high thread count (the number of threads per square inch) of 650 and up which makes the fabric softer and smoother than silk to the touch; a wide variety (Arun Garg, president, says that in keeping with the fashion calendar, there'll be three Maishaa collections a year) of colours and patterns and the facility to mix and match pillow cases.

Maishaa products are also eco-friendly - anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, formaldehyde-free, so you can breathe and sleep easy. Its most expensive range, the Softmante Collection, mixes cotton with "sofin", a man-made micro-filament created by Toray Industries in Japan, resulting in a fabric that's "four times finer than silk and eight times lighter than cotton".

Moreover, it is super-absorbent, fast-drying and wrinkle free! The price - Rs 7,000-17,000 (the "Fragrance" collection in the shops now is more moderately priced, beginning with Rs 3,000 for a single sheet, Rs 4,000 for a double-bed one, and so on).

Then, there is Whites of London, another international brand, which launched in India in early September. In Egyptian cotton with thread counts between 200 and 800, this brand is a trifle less expensive at Rs 2,500-8,000.

But instead of multi-brand furnishings outlets, Sajid Dehlvi of Estocorp, the Indian licensee of this five-year-old English mail-order brand, is opening his own stores. "Within the next three years, there will be 40 stores across India, the bulk of them in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai."

There's more - Peacock Alley, US-based brand of luxury linens, will soon be in India. Alok Industries, which manufactures many of the products for this brand, has turned licensee in India and will shortly start off its retail venture with shop-in-shops in around 10 exclusive home linen stores, to be followed by two exclusive stores in Mumbai and Delhi.

The Peacock Alley range, says Alok Jivrajka, director, will have flat and fitted sheets, comforters, coverlids, shams, duvet covers, bed skirts, deco cushions - the entire panoply of bed clothes, Western style. Prices here will start at Rs 5,000 and go up to Rs 20,000 (for the entire ensemble).

And no, Jivrajka does not apprehend any resistance from Indian consumers either because of prices or the fact that Indian beds come in all kinds of irregular shapes and sizes and are far less elaborate compared to Western ones with their box springs and thick mattresses. "Not all sides of the fitted sheets available here will have elastic, and as for the differences in drop sizes of mattresses, people can tuck in the extra fabric."

But there's another brand, Sahelia - a rather exclusive one even in the West - available only at Mon Chateau, the exclusive store in Bangalore which stocks American luxury furniture brands, soft-furnishings, lighting fixtures and home accessories.

Sahelia is designer bed linen made in Italy by an African-American designer called Fatim Thiam, who incorporates elements of African culture into her range. Prices (for the ensemble for a queen size bed) - Rs 50,000 to a lakh. And Indians are queueing up to buy though Vasanthi Ram, director at Mon Chateau, says "their interest peeks when they buy our beds or Royal Pedic mattresses".

Clearly, the instinct for luxury products has gone from being merely skin deep for things on "show" like jewellery and watches to something that's more felt, internalised.

Gargi Gupta in New Delhi