Wedding silks in T Nagar

This regal setting was part of a promotional campaign for Pothys Palace, a textile store in Chennai T. Nagar. Yes, the city’s silk saree market is witnessing several innovative changes. Fifty years ago, a typical Tamil wedding would have among its many rituals a trip to Kancheepuram for its famed pattu (silk). Often, the family would boast of a patron weaver who would meticulously design and put together the bride’s trousseau.


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At Pothys Palace the collection in ven pattu (white silk) and leaf-green has found many patrons. “With jacquard boxes in looms, we can make the most intricate designs on silk. And the colour palette has seen a major change. Earlier, only dark colours such as maroon, magenta and green were used for silk sarees. But today over 1,000 colours are used. Pastel shades have made a great impact,” says S. Ramesh, the store’s managing partner.

Established first in Tirunelveli, the store finds a loyal following among people hailing from interior Tamil Nadu. The original founders are said to have worked for the royal courts in the distant past. In fact, even today their designs depict the valour of a bygone era in silk and gold zari. Pothys has now forayed into designer sarees, and Indian and western wear.

Though youngsters today buy only a few sarees, they are not willing to compromise on quality, he says. “Earlier one would buy about 5-6 silk sarees, each priced about Rs 2,000-3,000. But now, youngsters are willing to buy just one saree at Rs 7,000 or above.”

Very little in terms of product differentiation. But the scale takes the cake for this brand. Pothy’s was a prominent outlet in Coimbatore Tirunelveli chennai and they started opening branches because their competition decided to tickle them. Yes. When Nalli opened an outlet in Coimbatore, Pothy’s was outraged. And outraged is a euphemistic term, because going by what they did, it should be termed as nothing less than a war. They have the then largest clothing outlet in Chennai bang opposite Nalli’s. And was amongst the first to go TV with consummate ease. They did tak
a huge part of the market share and they made it look so easy. Chennai (read T Nagar) had two large stores to go to now.

Another huge marketing trick of Pothy’s was the Aadi sale. Traditionally, Aadi (a tamil month) is a month when Tamilians don’t buy new stuff. They believe that things bought during that month will not stay! But this just happened to be a turn around. Around this time, Pothy’s started the Aadi sale. Prices were slashed by up to 50% and some price conscious Tamilians took the bait. All it requires is your neighbor to buy a new silk saree and show it off. The woman of the house has to get one for herself. The mood was almost like “screw the belief. Get that saree!”. The best part is the fact that this has opened up a new season for all categories in Tamil Nadu including white goods, clothing, jewellery etc. An erstwhile unchartered market!

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