Byline: Holly Haber
DALLAS — The current craze for Asian styling fits right into the business plan at Ashiana.
The company imports lavish, embroidered organza scarves from Pakistan that re-create the bullion, bead and thread embroidery developed in India during the Raj period, when British rulers commissioned local craftspeople to render Victorian floral themes in the traditional Indian handwork style, explained Doodi Rasheed, owner. The company is based here with headquarters in the Dallas Design District.
GeNe Sales shows a portion of Ashiana’s line — mostly oblong organza wraps with heavy embroidery on the ends. They are well priced for the look, ranging from $69 to $80 wholesale. Ashiana also offers more elaborately beaded styles that are copies of vintage scarves and sell for up to $790.
“Everything is hand-embroidered,” Rasheed noted. “We have developed a lot of the traditional, old gold-bullion styles.”
Nowadays, the metallic coil detail is synthetic, but it still looks brilliant. Much of the handwork is done by women working in cooperatives managed by Rasheed’s sister in Pakistan.
“The handwork is learned from generation to generation,” Rasheed explained. “We have trained them to do their skill in the fashion we want. We give the input on what we want, and they let us know what they can do there. The bullion is done mostly by men who have their own workshops in Pakistan.”
Rasheed started the company seven years ago by importing textiles for home furnishings, such as pillows and organza table runners. Noting that the table runners are similar to wraps, Rasheed expanded into scarves about three years ago and now produces some of them under private labels, including Adrienne Landau.
Ashiana’s sales last year were about $700,000 and could as much as double this year, she said. The company has about 40 specialty store accounts for its scarves, which make up less than half the firm’s sales.
In addition to her sister, Rasheed has another fashion connection in Pakistan: Her brother, Wasim Khan, is a fashion designer who shows in London.
“My brother is a well-known designer in Pakistan, and he acts as a consultant for us and is a great influence,” Rasheed noted. “It’s a family business we all enjoy, and it’s very creative and gratifying for us.”
Among the most popular items are the copies of vintage scarves that wholesale from $390 to $790. Rasheed also sells some of the originals.
“Our own passion was collecting vintage textiles — just for research for ourselves,” she explained. “We ended up having a lot of them that we had collected over the last five or six years. Now the look is so big that we can’t keep anything we get.”
For fall, Ashiana styles velvet shawls with thread embroidery, including a velvet copy of an English piano shawl that has been a bestseller.
“We are thinking about doing handbags,” Rasheed noted. “One of my daughters just graduated from Pratt Institute with a master’s degree in fine arts. She would participate in the handbags. Companies are already buying our fabrics to make handbags.”