Ecstasy of pure silk & Consumer dilemma

Ecstasy of pure silk & Consumer dilemma

A. India and Silk

Silk, the queen of textiles dominates the textile industry. The history of silk goes back to 4,500 years. India is the second largest producer of silk, contributing to about 18 per cent of the world production. Five main varieties of silks are available in India namely Mulberry silk, Tasar silk, Eri silk, Muga silk and Oak Tasar silk. These are obtained from different species of silkworms which in turn feed on several food plants.

Today, silk weaving tradition in India revolves around and worn in most parts of the country. The vibrant colours, the ethnic traditional wear that is weight, resilience and excellent drape etc. have made silk saris, the irresistible and unavoidable companion of Indian women, popular all over the world with its variety of designs, weaves, and patterns.

The silk saris of India are among the living examples of the excellent craftsmanship of the weavers of the country. Their mastery lies in the creation of floral designs, beautiful textures, fine geometry, durability of such work and not the least, the vibrant colours they choose for making saris. Many states in the country have their own variety of makes in silk as well as weaving centers with their traditional designs, weaving and quality. The silk varieties are renowned by the place where it has been woven.

Banaras is one of the leading silk weaving centers in India. Amru silk, Jamvar, Navarangi, Jamdani etc. are the types of Banaras Saris. Maharashtra is famous for its Paithani Silk saris, generally with gold dots design and Kosa silk of Bhandara district. Patola silk, known as the pride of Gujarat, is noted for their bright colours and geometric designs with folk motifs.

Madhya Pradesh is famous for Chanderi, Maheshwari and Tussar silk saris. saris from Orissa come Silk Bomkai Sambalpuri in single and double ikat weaves. Murshidabad in West Bengal is the home of the famous Baluchari sari in which untwisted silk thread are used for weaving brocades.

In the south, heavy silk saris from Tanjore, Kumbakonam and Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu are known for their broad decorative borders and contrasting colors. Kancheepuram silks have enviable position among the best silk saris in the country for their texture, luster, durability, and finish. Kolegal and Molkalmoru in Karnataka are known for their simple ikat weave with parrot motif on the borders.

Raw silk reeling is a set of processes, which aims at efficient extraction of silk filament from cocoons. It’s a process of combining number of ends of the cocoon filaments together to form a single thread of desired denier. Silk reeling is carried out with the reeling devices via, Charka, Cottage basin and Multiend reeling machines. Multiend reeling machine is a suitable reeling device to produce gradable raw silk economically under Indian conditions. Important factors which have a direct bearing of productivity and quality of silk are as follows.

  • Raw material quality: Cocoon characteristics like race, size, shape, built, reliability, filament denier, length, etc.
  • Processing parameters adopted for stifling, cooking, reeling and re-reeling.
  • Machinery /devices: Machinery / devices used for drying, cooking, reeling and re-reeling processes
  • Water quality: Water source, and water’s characteristics
  • Human skill: Human skill involved in manual and mechanical operations

B. Consumer dilemma

Silk has set the standard in luxury fabrics for several millennia. Silk, known as "Paat" in Eastern India, "Pattu" in southern parts of India and "Resham" in Hindi/Urdu has a long history in India. Recent archaeological discoveries in Harappa and Chanhu-daro suggest that sericulture, employing wild silk threads from native silkworm species, existed in South Asia during the time of the Indus Valley Civilization, roughly contemporaneous with the earliest known silk use in China.

Silk is widely produced today. India is the second largest producer of silk after China. Most of the silk in India is produced in the state of Karnataka, particularly in Mysore and North Bangalore. India is also the largest consumer of silk in the world. Every Indian family at some point or other buy silk materials especially silk sarees for special occasions. Silk is considered to be a holy wear in India. No ceremony is complete without the use of pure silk.

The common silk consumer visiting the retail shops somehow tend to feel that they are purely at the mercy of the salesmen in respect of the purity of the material, the quality, or the price of the material they buy. It is rather a difficult job to select genuine silk items from a heap of glittering silken lot. For a common consumer, all that shines is silk. So how does one ensure that one gets the value for his money that he pays for silk? It is possible to resort to the burn test on the spot. However, today an enlightened silk consumer need not go to such an extent to determine the authenticity of the product she buys. Whether it is saree or fabric, garment or made ups, all that she needs to do is to look for the silk mark tag attached to the product. In the light of these aspects, it seems pertinent to focus the study on the various aspects relating to buying behavior of silk sarees. In this context, the following questions arise.

  • What are the factors influencing selection preferences?
  • What is the preferred brand of silk saree?
  • What is the level of awareness about the silk mark?
  • Satisfaction levels while purchasing a silk saree?
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