CW Interiors |
Focus Story | April 2015

FAB furnishings

Indian soft furnishings market takes a leap in trends and business even as the end consumer gets more fashion conscious.
In recent years in India, soft furnishings have gone from being commodities to haute couture products, particularly in the residential segment, emerging as a key area in home décor. Impacted by the Western living style and a growing desire among individuals to make a personality statement, many Indians have been splurging on soft furnishings to add character to their homes. The availability of a wide range of Indian and international brands has opened a new chapter in the story of decor and ambience.

International Influence
The international soft furnishing brands entered Indian market in mid 2000. Today, a host of global brands (both fabrics and finished products) are available here, such as Christy and Rosebys, (UK), Rubelli and Sahelia (Italy), Casamance and Segre Ferrari (France), Jab and Ardecora (Germany), Agora and Comersan (Spain), Portico (U.S.), Eijffinger (Holland), Rasch and Symphony (Belgium) and many more. They are all being offered here through joint ventures, licensing agreements and collaboration with Indian manufacturers, marketers and retailers. Other international companies like Guy Degrenne and Textura Interiors are also eyeing India. Global brands offer unlimited choice of fabrics and styles to choose from, though most of them are targeted at the high end consumer segment.

Retesh Sharma, Director, Zynna Furnishings, said, ´Indians are now more inclined towards international brands in soft furnishings. The rise in the pricing of the Indian fabrics and lowering of the international currency has resulted in less demand for Indian fabric brands. The price difference between the Indian and the international fabrics is very less, and hence consumers are opting more for the latter because of their high durability, better designs, top-of-the-line technique and the European branding.

Market movement
The real estate boom with a trend towards home decoration, increased purchasing power of the middle class and the changing average home owners´ age from 40 to 25 have created a huge market for soft furnishings. There is also an increasing demand from the hospitality sector.

Apart from the metros, where the shift towards branded products is more pronounced, the Tier I and II cities are also catching up. Moreover, several new segments are emerging such as the eco-friendly fabrics and health products with anti mote covers and pillows and aromatherapy pillows in the bedding category. Ranjit Ahuja, Partner, Ranjit Ahuja & Associates, elaborated, ´Home furnishing has come a long way in India from the days of using Madras checks for table linen and cotton stripes for drapery. Affluent consumers who entertain frequently realize the importance of a well-styled home. The new age individual is discriminating and aspires for chic simplicity with a refined sensibility. Linen, a fabric from northern Europe and cooler climes, has a lot to do with achieving this refined simplicity. Linen as a basic fabric has that distinctive European feel, what I call´simply chic´.´ Offering a different perspective and emphasising on a new need are comments by Ravi Mehta, Director, SujanImpex: ´The market for soft furnishings is huge in India and worldwide, and the products available in the market are across the price and quality spectrum. The majority of home furnishings produced in Asia are for indoor use, and there is no reliable product available for outdoor use, including most of the international fabrics available in India. Internationally, Sauleda and Tuvatextil have come together to introduce indoor and outdoor furnishing fabrics, under the brand Agora, made from 100 percent solution dyed acrylic fibre, which make them suitable for outdoor use.´

According to Indian Home Furnishing Market Forecast & Opportunities 2018, the soft or home furnishing market is expected to grow at CAGR of 8 per cent by value to reach USD 5.29 billion by 2018.

Technology has also taken the fabrics to a new level. We now have fabrics made with moisture management technology, stain protective treatments, flame retardant materials, antimicrobial fabrics and thermally adaptive bedding.

Indian impact
Indian ethnic and traditional designs with embroidery, motifs and a luxurious royal look are a rage all over the world, due to their versatile design, rich colour schemes, broad spectrum of elements in décor, all created by skilled craftsmen. Bed and table linen, towels, drapery and cushion covers are categories that are largely exported. Many Indian companies are exporting their products to the US, UK, Canada, Europe, Turkey, Australia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and the Gulf countries.

Throwing light on Indian exports, Chrissie Jeffery, Creative Director, and Owner, No Chintz Textiles & Soft Furnishing, said, ´There is a new generation of designers who appear to be interested in the handmade and natural products and are influencing the current trends. Today, we are seeing a return to the use of curtains and textiles in the interior and a move away from modern blinds and shutters.´

´We have strong ties with India as our cotton, hand-woven range of Ikats, plain weaves and stripes are manufactured in India. The bulk of our fabrics are manufactured in Kannur in Kerala, and Hyderabad supplies us our Ikats. We are currently looking at expanding our Indian manufacturing with new products. We provide colours and designs for our products made in India however, the input of the weavers in production is very important. Our hand woven fabrics are not produced out of big factories but made by small communities who have woven fabrics for generations on looms. They use recycled water, the dye by-products are captured so they do not enter the water ways and all the left over yarn is used by the community for other projects.´

Speaking about the Middle East, Ramachandra Shastry, Director, Rumors Fine Furnishings, commented, ´The Middle East and Turkey are two of our prominent markets outside India. Classical damasks, intricate patterns, baroque style in classical colours of ivory, beiges, gold, prunes and deep reds are trends within these markets. Floral vine embroideries on shiny back¡grounds are also favourites. Rumors offer fabrics for curtains, cushions, pillow covers, upholstery in neutral, bright palettes, in a multitude of weaves, decorative embroideries on silk, cotton and poly blend bases, high quality jacquard fabrics, sheer fabrics and embroidered sheer as also printed fabrics.´

Trend talk
Speaking about what´s in vogue, Ajay Hemmady and Nakul Vengsarkar, Partners, NA Designs, commented, ´Currently, there is considerable experimentation and innovation in play of patterns and textures in soft furnishings. Earthy tones were always an acceptable norm but today clients are opening up to deeper hues and innovations so long as the feel of the fabric is comfortable. Owing to exposure to international fairs many clients have now begun to look at the use of leather as well as suede. Right from the masculine toffee and grey tones to the charming pastel shades and nudes, the furnishings today are adding an elegant sensitivity to any interior designed space.´

Highlighting the colour trends, Nicky Mudie Founder and Director Violet & George, said, ´The year 2015 will see pastels and metallics remaining hugely popular. Grey is set to continue its reign as the base palette of choice with accents of metallics, tangerine, blue, orange and red. Fabrics are versatile as compared to solid materials for furnishings as they can reinvent a tired old piece of furniture.´

Lee Clarke, Managing Director, Clarke & Clarke, England, offers additional insights: ´Prints and patterns are definitely back in trend this year. Pretty realistic, splashy watercolour florals are a must, which are digitally printed to achieve soft delicate wash effects of the original hand painted design. Fabrics are also about texture, with natural and animal forms. Interesting eclectic mixes of woven geometric jacquards, metallic weaves and rich embroidered damasks styled with simple dip-dyed linen plains and stripes with intricate embroidery techniques are also in vogue. So are matte and shiny finishes sourced from natural forms.´

Brands, trends and more importantly the consumers´ tastes have elevated soft furnishings to an important position in the home decor industry, making them an extension of your personality and an expression of your style statement.

Text: Janaki Krishnamoorthi
NA Designs Mumbai
Tel: Ajay Hemmady - 9619717793; Email:
Tel Nakul Vengsarkar 9821667766; E-mail:
Website :
No Chintz Texiles & Soft Furnishings, Sydney
For manufacturing enquiries:
Tel: 022-9557 8965
For retail enquiries:
Tel: 022-9810 0078
Rumors Fine Furnishings,
Tel: 080-6569 4949
Violet & George London
Tel: +44 (0)20 8969 0654
Ranjit Ahuja & Associates Mumbai
Tel: 022-2281 4871/ 98200 98686
Zynna Furnishings, Gurgaon
Tel: (0) 8800361361
Sujan Impext Pvt Ltd, Mumba
i Tel : 022-66969381/82.
Clarke & Clarke Lancashire
Tel: +44 (0)1706 242010
E-mail: General:

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