Deepali Nainwal is the founder of HeritageModa, a retailer of authentic Indian pashmina and embroidery. Pashmina is a type of cashmere-based clothing, typically used in clothing items, like scarves or cardigans. The material has a rich history and initially gained prominence through its use in designing the Kashmir shawl. Nonetheless, it remains an incredibly popular and opulent clothing choice, making it the perfect birthday gift for a close family friend.
Thankfully, Deepali was able to answer a few of our questions about HeritageModa and her early life/career.
Deepali, please tell us a bit about yourself and how did you get started HeritageModa?
I come from India and I have been very fortunate that my career has given me opportunities to travel and live in various countries. I have travelled extensively within and outside India and have also lived in the US, England, Scotland and Germany. Interestingly during my travels, I was exposed to the unique traditional local handicrafts; be it Murano glass jewelry from Italy to Filigree work from Philippines to handwoven silk carpets in Turkey to woven wool tartans from Scotland. These experiences in turn made me look inwards to Indian art forms and made me realise how underappreciated India fine artwork is.
This realization piqued my interest in Indian handicrafts. The more I learnt about hand made products from India, the more I felt the need to bring these authentic works to art connoisseurs and especially to people who love classic, timeless fashion. And this is how the idea of HeritageModa came into being. Currently, HeritageModa aims to bring premium, authentic accessories presented in form of stoles and scarves to global consumers.
How did you decide to call your fashion shop “HeritageModa”? What is the story?
Coming up with the right name was not easy. On the one hand, we want to focus on promoting Indian Heritage craft to art appreciators, yet on the other hand, we want to make it a relevant fashion accessory for young and old alike. Hence, the name “Heritage Moda” was thoughtfully chosen, such that it unifies Heritage art from India with design, while being tailored in accordance with cosmopolitan fashionista trends.
Some of the products we sell are truly heirloom pieces, as they are based on gradually disappearing crafts work. Nonetheless, they will look fresh for years to come. Finally, each product has an Indian heritage story expressed by the artisan through their craft and work.
What were some early challenges in getting the shop established?
So, the concept was clear, but the first challenge was to identify the handicraft categories we needed to focus on. For instance, should we go with jewelry or with bags or with dresses. After that, there was a lot of thinking about market and business viability analysis, before we decided to go with scarves and stoles. The next challenge was to identify fabrics that had to be considered, while ascertaining which would be in line with the brand theme. Following this was the tedious step of identifying and verifying partners who were selling authentic fabrics with some special art work e.g. opulent hand embroidery, marbling art.
In my resolve to find only the best and authentic products, I remember calling up some cottage industries and artisan families to ensure that the authentic product from the source was available.
There have, of course, been other regular challenges like learning e-commerce, learning how to find the authenticity in case of pashmina, thinking about the supply chain but the biggest initial hurdle was getting the best authentic sourcing.
What is the current trend in wearing pashmina?
Pashmina signifies timeless fashion and hence is always trendy. Some of the popular usage of Pashmina include wraps, scarves, stoles and shawls. Pashmina stoles are great accessories for brides and brides’ maids. Women who prefer to cover their heads can also use this as a head scarf. Plus, it’s a great fashion accessory which can be styled and worn in many ways with a wide array of clothes – be it office wear, evening dresses or casual dresses. Finally, pashmina can also be given as an heirloom gift, which can stand the test of time.
How people should choose pashmina?
We prefer products that are at least from GI (Geographical Indications) registered source. Indeed, a typical pure pashmina fibre is 12-16 microns in diameter and is handwoven on traditional looms and not machine made. It is common for customers to be duped by tests such as ring test, burning the fibre etc. However, it’s important to note that these tests would also work for any normal wool and hence don’t guarantee pure Pashmina.
Geographical indication is used to identify goods which have unique characteristics originating from a specific geographical area. In the case of Pashmina, the right wool is from the undercoat of special goats (Capra Hircus) found in the high altitude Changthang plateau in the Ladakh region. Nowadays, some GI registered artisans are also making stoles/shawls with GI sign on the product itself. The intent is to protect genuine artisans and their work.
Another important thing to highlight is that it is a common mistake to use the terms Cashmere and Pashmina interchangeably. Pashmina is ultrafine fibre, while cashmere is slightly thicker (approx. 20 microns fibre in diameter). It’s the ultra-fineness of the Pashmina fibre that makes the end product look opulent. In layman’s terms, Pashmina can be considered as rare, premium and ultra-fine type of Cashmere. Another point to note is that pure pashmina stole’s ends are always frayed and not braided.
Where do you sell your products?
We would like Indian heritage and handicraft to be celebrated worldwide and hence there is no better way than making it available online. This would ensure that art connoisseurs across the globe, who have an eye for art and who appreciate craftsmanship, have easy access to our premium quality products. We offer free worldwide shipping on products above $50 US. Our products are handmade in India and hence worldwide shipping may take up to 10 business days. Returns/exchanges are also quite easy and hassle free and we have a flexible 30 days returns policy. Finally, we understand the utmost need for security and hence we have international payments enabled through trusted and renowned payment gateways.
Thank you Deepali for sharing your thoughts with us!
You can follow up with Deepali Nainwal at https://heritagemoda.com