Umbrellas are now fashion accessories and come in myriad shapes, colours and designs, reports SAJNI V. SAHADEVAN
Come the monsoon and stores are filled with an endless array of innovatively designed umbrellas. `Jingle star,' `Splash,' `Butterfly' - these are not cartoons or water theme parks but brand names of umbrellas for kids to face the rain with a smile. Once upon a time umbrellas were black in colour and were used to shelter you from the rain. But now they are fashion accessories and come in myriad colours, shapes and designs. The advertising blitz has ensured that even children know the name of popular brands and products. There are umbrellas to suit each age group. Popy and John's have have brought out their own respective models for kids called `Jingle Star' and `Splash.' While the former has miniature bulbs fixed on the top and at the tips of the frame which light up at the push of a button, `Splash' comes with three additions to enchant kids - it squirts water and has a whistle attached to the handle which can also be used to blow the balloon available with the umbrella.
Butterflies and Barbie
Other models from Popy include `Butterfly' with dainty colourful butterflies affixed on the umbrella. `Tom' is yet another designer umbrella that is trimmed with frills along the rims, and has Barbie as a handle for the girls and Spiderman for the boys. Popy's `Magic' and Sun Mark, an upcoming brand in the umbrella market, has a picture with a white coating on the umbrella that changes colour when it comes into contact with water. Sun Mark also has a range with a booklet of the fairytale `Rumpelstiltskin' knotted to the handle that is moulded in the shape of a dwarf. Other umbrellas under the same brand have fancy handles and whistles attached to the handle. More designs have flooded the market following the convenient three-fold design for umbrellas. If you thought that was all, think again. The `Capsule' model from the house of John's is a compact wonder in itself. This trendy five-fold umbrella comes with a case as handy as the ones used for storing spectacles. It can also be hooked to the strap of the bag to suit the needs of college and office-goers. Popy too has a similar model with prices ranging from Rs.200 to 400.
`Gravity' from John's is meant to help users walk by without the tips of the umbrella getting entangled on to passers-by; this model comes with a top that is twisted open. The John's AOC (Automatic Open Close) three-fold model can be opened and closed at the push of a button while the FC (Full Close) model has to be opened manually but closes automatically with the help of a button mechanism. Surya Mark produces models similar to John's with both brands having attractive colours and prints. On the other hand, if you have a yen for those old world stately umbrellas with sturdy wooden curved handles, there are plenty to choose from. Umbrellas with wooden handles that double as removable walking sticks have been brought out by Popy at Rs. 800. Umbrellas with ordinary wooden handles and colourful prints fall within the Rs.300 to 400 range. With so many designs for all members of the family, little wonder then that Kerala is the leading supplier of umbrellas to the entire country!