Celebrity khadi store

The clientele for khadi has been a loyal one.

The clientele for khadi has been a loyal one.  

THERE ARE no stylish cloth-racks or neon lighting here. At first sight, it might resemble a shop selling second-hand clothes, but the clientele of the Thiruvananthapuram Khadi Bhandar ranges from singers, cine actors and politicians to even hep youngsters who take a fancy to ethnic wear.

One among the first khadi outlets in the city, the Bhandar, situated opposite Higginbothams on the MG Road, nurses nostalgic memories of personalities no less than C. M. Stephen, Madhavrao Scindia and the cine star, Prem Nazir, dropping in to pick up their khadi suitings.

The demand is more for khadi cotton in summer and later for khadi silk and polyester which are used for stitching "kurtas'' by artistes, says Jawahar Lal, caretaker of the Bhandar. He says that even now, the Carnatic vocalist, T. V. Sankaranarayanan, drops in to purchase "kurtas'' in large numbers whenever he comes to the city.

The Bhandar used to count among its clientele the former Chief Ministers, R. Shanker and Pattom Thanu Pillai. The Deputy Speaker, N. Sundaran Nadar, the Revenue Minister, K. M. Mani, and the MP, V. S. Sivakumar, are among the VIP customers for who go for the Bhandar's khadi dhotis these days.

The dhotis come from Nagercoil and are in good demand, says Mr. Lal. "Kuppadam sarees'', which come in small numbers from Andhra Pradesh are sold out immediately.

He denies that the UDF's coming to power has led to an increase in khadi sales.

``In fact, the rise in the price of genuine khadi has led to a slight fall in sales. Since, khadi needs to be starched and ironed regularly, only those who are really in love with this type of cloth care to buy it these days,'' Mr.Lal points out.

The Bhandar has invested hardly any money in bedecking the shop, the result being that the shelves sport broken glass-panes and the walls have the paint peeling off.

"Interior decor is not important here as it has no impact on the sales,'' shrugs Mr. Lal.

By Hari Sundar G

Photo: K. G. Santhosh

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