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Velvet, commonly known as a winter fabric, has always been a classic staple in the fashion world, as it has always remained a hot favourite amongst leading international designers. Even though velvet has not always taken over the fashion world, it has always come back in power from time to time as it adds a fresh texture and hint of luxury to the collections of designers. From Milan Fashion Week to Lakme India Fashion Week, designers have forecast velvet to be one of the trending fabrics for all designs. It is undoubtedly one of the most luxurious materials available in the market, and this year, it created quite an impact at the Milan and London runways, adding a touch of fluidity to already feminine silhouettes. Bold coloured velvet was seen at the fall editions of New York Fashion Week in products like suits, dresses, blazers. Interestingly, velvet outfits have evolved beyond conventional skirts and leggings and today velvet can be seen in jumpsuits, dresses, evening gowns, midis, crop tops and even gorgeous blazers. Velvet gowns worn with T-shirts and plush skirts are the latest additions.

An increasing number of international celebrities are also seen adorning velvet fabrics. Velvet today is available in a myriad of bold and bright colours, which includes deep red, royal blue, parakeet green and burnt orange. Crushed velvet’ has been popular ever since its revival in 90s. Soft, drapery velvets in elegant pastel colours are trending, and stiff, structured fabrics in strong colours such as bottle green or navy have ruled the runway this year. Velvet particularly gained demand in early the 90s, when motion pictures, the determiner of fashion and trend, started using this fabric for most of the clothes worn by celebrities. Today velvet, in reputation, is as good as cotton or any other everyday wearable fabric.

In India also, designers have been experimenting with this fabric for a long time now in products like a saree, blouse, lehenga, sherwani or simply used as a border.

"The velvet market has grown by leaps and bounds in India. Today, the Indian velvet industry gives tough competition to China. Our cotton is one of the best in world and this gives our cotton velvet an edge above others" said Ravi Verma, Director Taj Velvet and Silk Mills from Agra while explaining the velvet market in India. He also mentioned that velvet is about creativity and quality. "We blend both to maintain a stable position in the fashion industry and are always willing to experiment with new styles, weaves and finishes," he added. He informed that his company has been using the best in technology from companies like Van De Wiele, Belgium for producing velvet.

On the other hand, a few people have differing opinions about velvet. "New government policies have affected the business a lot, demonetisation had already caused a huge loss and GST has simply added to those wounds. 12% GST rate solely on velvet whereas GST on other fabrics is only 5%, has closed doors for export for many like us" said one of the officials from Kedarnath Velvet. He also said that even though Velvet is trending worldwide, exports are suffering due to taxation schemes in India. Also, China is hugely competitive.

"The increasing sample demand for micro, viscose and cotton velvet is giving a hint that by October 2017, velvet will be in great demand. Right now 2-3 metres of sample demand transforms into huge consignments as designers are using this fabric on a regular basis," said Bablu, a salesperson at Sahni Fabs, one of the showrooms in Nehru Place.

Knitted velvet is in demand and I believe demand would increase in the future," said Kuldip Mulgai, Deepak Fibre LTD. Fashion designer Tarun Tahiliani says no fabric can replace velvet because of its royal look. But owing to its cost and thickness, raw silk, dupion silk and lightweight suedes took its place. However, it has made a comeback because of the varied ways it is used. "Velvet disappeared from the runway because of its thickness. However, its sheen and texture are irreplaceable," he says. “Techniques like velvet applique, using velvet sequin or cutouts in embellishments, velvet tapes and braids, printed velvet yokes and borders are some of the twists that velvet has seen this year along with quilting the velvets."

(Ravi Verma, Director, Taj velvet and Silk Mills)