Think Ramraj Cotton and the first image that comes to mind is white shirts and dhotis. But this festival season, the Tirupur-based regional traditional wear firm’s trendy launch the ‘Veshtee’ — a combo pack of a branded dhoti plus a T-shirt — flew off the shelves.

The company sold over 2 lakh ‘Veshtee’ — as dhoti is also known — packs priced at ₹895 each, validating its foray into the T-shirt space. But, then, Ramraj Cotton’s astute founder, KR Nagarajan, has always had a nose for new trends. Remember the dhoti with velcro and dhoti with pockets the company innovated? This time around he scented an opportunity in the new work-from-home dress sense.

When lockdown 1.0 was announced in late March, Ramraj Cotton, like any other company, switched to virtual meetings. “At our regular in-house virtual meetings, I noticed my boys in T-shirt and dhoti… This sparked a thought — here was an opportunity to introduce the dhoti-T-shirt combo. Thus, was born the ‘Veshtee’,” he said.

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Seamless moves

Although the dhoti maker has built a diverse portfolio over the years including linen shirts, inner-wear for men and ladies, and towels, the Veshtee is its foray into the T-shirt space.

The plans fell into place seamlessly recounts Nagarajan. “My younger son-in-law is into apparel exports. When the lockdown was imposed, his export shipments had to be deferred. The fabric was ready, but unstitched. Around the same time, I saw an opportunity in this space.”

So, they decided to tailor the T-shirts (Unibro) to Indian size and offer them with the dhoti. The targeted production was a modest 10 lakh pieces; but within a month the company had sold 2.5 lakh packs.

“This overwhelming response forced us to set up a 60,000 sq feet facility (primarily for Unibro T-shirts and track pants),” says Nagarajan. Of course, the response has been highest in Tamil Nadu.

Set up in 1983, Ramraj Cotton has, over the years, expanded to eight units with an over 10,000 strong dealer network and extending support to over 50,000 weaver families in the region. It has 80 per cent share of the branded dhoti segment.

“We offer around 2,500 varieties of dhotis, including four and eight cubits, coloured dhotis, broad bordered and simple-lined ones, sourced from these weavers. Each market, be it Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka or Kerala, is very different,” says Nagarajan.

Exports to Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Dubai account for 5 per cent of the company’s turnover.

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