The saree is an iconic article of clothing in South Asian culture, especially when it comes to weddings. Not all of us have the luxury of heading to the land of the woven cloth (India) to shop for our weddings so often times, we turn to local retailers to satisfy our needs. Folks in Malaysia, you are in luck as this feature is all about another one of our infamous Silk Saree Vendors, Pattu Shastra. Read below as the ladies behind this venture dish out tricks and trades of silk sarees.
Who is the face(s) behind Pattushastra? When was the company started? How did you come up with the business idea?
The faces behind Pattushastra are three sisters Kavitha, Suvitha, and Jeevitha. The company started on Aug 23rd, 2013. It started out of love and passion for pattu sarees, especially kanchipuram pattu. People always asked us about the sarees we wore and complimented us on our taste in sarees – and so that gave us the idea that we should give others the chance to also own these beautiful pieces.
Tell us a little bit about your sarees and what sets them apart from others. Are all the sarees designed and created by you?
Our sarees are hand picked by us – and we only choose the best colour combinations and exclusive designs that cater for all ages. Our sarees are not only for brides but for anyone who has impeccable taste in silk sarees. We can only “design” the sarees to a certain extent, such as small/big “bhutta” design, small/high borders, colour contrasts and so on. We leave the rest to the weavers as they are truly the experienced ones when it comes to what works and what doesn’t. After all, every handwoven kanchipuram saree is a designer piece since every weaver is a designer himself.
How does one care for a 100% Kanchipuram saree? Tell us some of the do’s and don’ts.
Silk sarees need to breathe. It cannot be kept trapped in a box or cupboard for a long period of time. It should be taken out of the cupboard every 2 to 3 months and kept in fresh air.
Do you only sell Kanchipuram Silk sarees or do you sell other sarees too?
Currently our collection only has kanchipuram silk sarees.
Where are you sarees woven? How long does a saree typically take?
Our sarees are hand woven in kanchipuram itself. a saree typically takes 2 weeks to a month to be woven. Sarees requiring heavier work, like those with full zari, takes up to 45 days in weaving.
Tell us a little bit about the team at Pattushastra, and what various roles they have in this company.
All three of us are very well used to multitasking and able to play any role always. We do not separate and segregate our roles as all of us do play an important role in this company. We are involved in marketing and sales, we manage our accounts, we brainstorm ideas together on expanding, we reply to each inquiry that comes in, and we speak to all customers regarding our product. Importantly, to purchase our goods, all three of us personally travel to Kancheepuram, India to handpick our silk sarees directly every 3 to 4 months.
What kind of criteria does a saree have to meet before it is chosen to be part of your inventory?
There are several criteria to consider before picking our sarees, but the main one would be the saree must be hand-woven using only pure silk and pure zari. We don’t take power loom (machine-made) and half-fine zari sarees. We also don’t repeat designs. No two sarees are exactly the same in our collection. The saree should be bright and attractive to the eye. In Malaysia, we have seasons of colour preference – therefore following those options are very important. Next we would study the design as we understand the preference of our customers, we would pick accordingly. We also love to pick trendy designs as each time we visit, they have a new concept and trend, which allows us to choose the latest style.
For a bride looking to get a specific colour or design, how long in advance would they have to place their order?
For a bride requesting on special order, we would appreciate if the couple would seek our help and book their saree with us about 6-8 months ahead before their big day. But considering we are not the experts in the weaving field, we always inform our brides that the design of the silk saree will be decided by the experienced weaver; what we can help and assist will be more towards the colour preferences and in term of design – like if they prefer small or high border, embossed or prominent designs on the body, etc. Most of the time, we always advise our future brides to be open minded on the selections, as some designs are indescribable and it will be amazing to view it directly upon completion.
What is the main difference between the first (manavarai) and second (koorai) saree a bride wears?
The koorai saree must always outshine the manavarai saree. Brides normally go for contrasting colours where they will not pick the same colour for both first and second saree. The manavarai saree can be simpler compared to koorai saree which is with heavier zari work.
What are some trends you are seeing from brides for either saree?
These days, brides always like the bright colour combination for their wedding sarees. The most popular colours would be chili red, orange, yellow and pink. Some others, they are liking the ‘bavanchi’ borders, embossed design with ‘zaari butta’ designs, double shaded silk sarees with contrast ‘pallu’ and saree blouse, two different borders for the top and bottom of the saree, etc.. Keep in mind that kancheepuram sarees are always a classic never old-fashioned. Simple kancheepuram sarees remain timeless even after 50 years.
Often times for brides, they want to be able to look back on their wedding 30-40 years from now and still be in love with their outfits. What, in your opinion do you think makes a Koorai Saree timeless?
A ‘koorai’ saree will be timeless for every bride no matter how many years has passed by. We can say this because each time a bride comes to purchase a silk saree from us, we ensure they are completely satisfied with their choice. We take time explaining the different speciality of each silk saree to them and we give them ample time to pick their wedding saree happily. In our mind, each piece at our boutique is unique as it will never run out of trend, and each of one them is meant for someone. Therefore, we do not restrict our brides to pick only a specific range of the saree for their wedding. We encourage them to consider and view all available options and decide calmly. A ‘koorai’ should speak directly to the bride and groom as it brings a lot of meaning to one’s marriage.
What tips do you have for brides who have no idea in terms of what they want in their Koorai saree or how they want it to look like?
This is what we call perfect and fun! We love brides who come to us with an open mind. We love to show them each collection of silk saree we have from simple to elaborate and immediately they would get an idea or preference.
What is one colour or colour combinations that you find most clients gravitating towards for non-bridal sarees?
Colours are seasonal – so we often see different colours taking the spotlight at different times.
Is there a reoccurring trend or request that you are receiving from your non bridal clients? Would you be able to elaborate on this?
As we are a boutique, we do not repeat or replicate designs. This is stated to our customers when they come to us; main reason why they love us.
How do you keep up with current trends? What generation of clients are your products most appealing to?
Our biggest clients are brides. We stay current and appealing to the modern generation by customising saree blouse designs. We can design blouses that compliment sarees according to latest trends.
Fashion is something that is constantly changing and we often see a lot of older trends cycling back to being “in”. Can you tell us what older saree trend you think is going to make a come back soon?
The ‘borderless’ saree is our favourite pick. It is a timeless beauty in a pure kanceevaram silk saree whereby our grandmothers used to own them, and even then they looked extremely elegant.
Do you offer saree services for bridesmaids who all want matching sarees? Do these have to be specially ordered or do you have some in stock?
We don’t have matching sarees for bridesmaids. Our concept is more of a boutique; therefore, we are unable to match sarees for bridesmaids. We can cater in the same concept probably with a slight difference in the body design and different shades overall as we only have only one piece of each design.
Do you sell accessories to go along with the sarees you sell?
No – we do not sell accessories, but we definitely suggest and give ideas to our customers on the perfect matches.
Where are the majority of your clients from? Do you offer shipping to clients outside of Malaysia?
Currently, the majority of our clients are all over Malaysia & Singapore. We have done worldwide shipping to our customers who reside internationally such as Canada, Europe, and India.
What has been the most challenging part about running a business? What has been the most enjoyable detail of this business?
The most challenging part also happens to be the most enjoyable part which is choosing the sarees for our collection! Of all the beautiful pieces the weavers put in front of us and choosing the best ones from there is definitely challenging to us each time.
Describe the power of social media when it comes to reaching clients from around the world. Do you find that most of your clients contact you through social media, or word of mouth?
Social media has definitely been our main marketing platform. The majority of our clients have reached us through social media. Social media has provided the opportunity to anyone from any part of the world to know about us and to be able to purchase from us.
Which one of the three jewelry items completes an outfit? Bangles, Necklace, Earrings (you can only choose one)
What are ways to save costs for clients when choosing a bridal saree? What would you recommend?
Clients have to purchase according to their budget. Since we have different price ranges, they have to pick a saree which falls within their budget.
What is one of the most challenging things when working with clients? What is one of the most rewarding things when working with clients?
Trying to understand what the customer expects in their saree is challenging. We feel most rewarded to see our clients’ happy faces when they find the perfect saree they were looking for.. or an even better one from us!
Often times, designers will have a certain vision for their designs in terms of accessories, makeup and hairstyles that will tie the whole look together. Do you provide recommendations for your outfits or do you leave it up to the clients to turn the piece into their own look?
We do provide suggestions to our clients on how they can style their look. Often times we find that clients are more confident with their purchase after our styling ideas and after they imagine how their overall look will be in that saree.
Make sure you check out Pattu Shastra’s Instagram and Facebook pages for updates on their collection and offers. Tie • The • Thali would like to thank the ladies for giving us the inside scoop on their business and kanchipuram sarees.