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Najma Heptullah models for a cause

Maitreyee Handique | November 07, 2003

Najma Heptullah, deputy chairperson of Rajya SabhaWhy is Najma Heptullah, deputy chairperson of Rajya Sabha, modeling for a Devdas-inspired pashmina shawl designed by fashion stylist Neeta Lulla?

For the twin cause of championing animal rights and furthering the brand-building exercise of a pashmina shawl manufacturing company.

Lulla incidentally designed the classic period costumes for the blockbuster film, Devdas.

The Rs 120 crore (Rs 1.20 billion) Alps Industries Ltd, which manufactures pashmina shawls under the brand name Le Pashmina, has tied up with Maneka Gandhi-led People for Animals to raise funds for the NGO, as well as draw mileage as the country's only branded pashmina shawl weaver in a sea of small-scale players who operate in cottage industry fashion.

And Heptullah is not the only one modelling for the PFA-Le Pashmina cause.

Other models from different walks of life include hoteliers Arvind Singh Mewar and Preeti Paul, media personality Nalini Singh, stage actress Sita Raina and art promoter Sharan Apparao.

Sanjay Sachdeva, consultant and spokesperson for the Alp's fashion accessories division, says, "This is the only way to take the brand forward. This creative venture is to announce that we've arrived in the scene and to make our brand known as a certified, quality product. The company also offers a no question-asked refund policy and a colour guarantee."

This is not all. For a travelling sale exhibition called Masterpiece collection, the company has an agreement with the National Gallery of Modern Art to digitally reproduce works of Rabindranath Tagore, G R Santosh, Jamini Roy, Gopal Ghosh and Devyani Krishna upon pashmina shawls.

To create a parallel contemporary design line for the show, it's tied up with fashion designers like Rohit Bal, Hemant Trivedi, Manoviraj Khosla, Neeta Lulla, MonaPali and Reetika to embellish its shawls with embroidery and Swarovski crystals.

"It is a limited edition collection of 1,000 shawls. Fifty per cent of the sales proceed will go to PFA," says Sachdeva.

The shawls, priced between Rs 3,000 and Rs 6,000 for the digital artwork and Rs 6,000 for contemporary designs, have  already been exhibited in Bangalore last month and will be shown in the capital on  November 22 at The Hyatt Regency. The show travels to Kolkata and Mumbai in December and January, respectively.

Clearly, the creative formula is working for Alps. The company claims it has already sold goods worth Rs 25 lakh (Rs 2.5 million) in Bangalore from this collection.

Alps currently manufactures 15,000 shawls a month in its Sahibabad factory, exporting 70 per cent of its products.

In India, it retails at 198 outlets, including Vama in Mumbai, The Bombay Store in Bangalore and Taj Khazana in Delhi.

Alp's other concerns include venetian blind making division under the Vista Levelor brand name, a furnishing exports setup and a vegetable dye export manufacturing unit.

With positive response growing for Le Pashmina, the company now says it's taking the products to London next year through an NRI socialite.

On the cards, is also designing a new line based on meditation and Kama Sutra themes.

Last year, the company tied up with Wildlife Trust of India  to jointly launch the anti-shahtoosh campaign through fashion.

"That campaign was to create product awareness as well. To say no to shahtoosh was also to announce that it has been replaced by pashmina," says Sachdeva.

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