SRINAGAR: As the FIFA fever took over Kashmir, like the rest of the world, the UNESCO-accredited Creative City of Srinagar did not know that it was part of the game too. With memories of excitement and victory, a privileged lot of football spectators actually took a piece of Cashmere home, literally.
Qatari hosts had included Kashmir Pashmina shawls as part of the souvenirs basket that they presented to very important persons across stadia during the world’s biggest sports event. These shawls carrying the FIFA logo shall stay as part of the personal collections and memories of people across the globe.
Insiders in the trade said that this was for the first time in FIFA history that Kashmiri Shawl was part of the show. FIFA is one of the most exciting global sports events that takes place every fourth year since 1904. Qatar created history by getting the big game to the Middle East for the first time in history.
It was a Kashmiri craft exporter, Khazir Sons that manufactured and supplied the Kashmir shawls to Qatar-based Blue Salon, LLC for the event.
Market insiders said that a number of shawl manufacturers in India had been accredited by Doha-based luxury brand, Blue Salon to supply the shawls. While most of the mainland exporters supplied machine-made shawls using Poly-wool, the supplies from Kashmir had a Pashmina base and part of the supply was handmade. Most of these Kashmir Shawls were presented to the VVIPs from across the world.
Almost a year ahead, the Blue Salon had obtained an official license from FIFA to design and sell fashion merchandise bearing the 2022 FIFA World Cup logo. It marketed as many as 17 different official merchandise items, including ladies’ scarves, ghutra (traditional head coverings), luggage, backpacks, work bags, candles, travel accessories, cups, home textiles, bed coverings, towels, and blankets. For managing these items, the company engaged a lot of manufacturers and some of them were from India.
On a positive note, There were 68000 gifts bags for the visitors at the opening ceremony of FIFA, each one with a Pashmina shawl from Kashmir with embroidered logo at the Al Bayt stadium, Doha. Made in India at FIFA. #FIFAWorldCup #ThankYouQatar pic.twitter.com/XjQVGeM2U2
— Seetu Mahajan Kohli (@kohliseetu) December 20, 2022
At Al Bayt Stadium, there were 68000 gift bags for the visitors at the opening ceremony of FIFA, each one with a Pashmina shawl with embroidered logo at the Al Bayt stadium, Doha. Reports suggest that these were machine-made poly-wool shawls supplied by a Gurgaon-based company. In the lounges, however, the hosts gifted handmade Pashmina shawls to the VVIPs across the stadia in all the major matches.
“It is a very good development,” Mehmood Ahmad, Kashmir’s Director of the handicrafts and handlooms department, said. “I talked to the supplying company but they are under contractual obligations with a third party and can not reveal details,” Ahmad said the shawls were both handmade and machine-made and were gifted in bulk.
Ahmad said it is an acknowledgement of the universality of the Kashmir crafts. “We must follow it up,” he said, insisting that even though the recession triggered by the Covid19, the crafts are doing better. “In fiscal, 2021-22, we could record only an export turnover of Rs 435 crore,” Ahmed said. “This year, in the last two quarters, we have already crossed Rs 375 crore.”
Even at FIFA’s official store in Qatar, there are at least three Pashmina Shawls being sold as part of the winter collection. They are available in two price banks – one for 995 Qatari Riyal (Rs 22000) and another for 2400 Qatari Riyal (Rs 54000). All these shawls carry FIFA 2022 logo. These shawls are delivered online. While the cheaper ones are machine-made, the expensive 58-inch Dune Sand Burgundy Turquoise pieces are hand-made.