Ubiquitous umbrellas still retain their purpose and charm

There is no dearth of umbrellas once the monsoon sets in. It’s a must-carry object for school children, office goers and even casual travelers to protect themselves from the rains. To meet utility requirements and emerging fashion trends, makers of this handy seasonal utility constantly look to innovate.

An interesting article by Mithila Phadke of TNN reveals how iit’s indeed raining a whole lot of dazzling designs at umbrella stores in Mumbai. For example, there are kiddie-favorite versions that are dotted with techni-colored cartoon ears to go with the archetypal, full-size one known as Shahenshah, made available by top makers like Ebrahim Currim & Sons under the ‘Stag’ brand.

There are exciting varieties of novel and classic, contemporary and traditional, basic and dazzling umbrellas that flood the market every monsoon. The article quotes the director of Johns Umbrella from Kerala, Joseph Thayyil, as saying: “There has always been a lot of competition in the umbrella industry. We’ve always been clear that we won’t try to sell by cutting prices, but by bringing in new products.”

The company is based in Alappuzha, peculiarly known as the state’s umbrella district. Popy happens to be its closest competitor. Both the brands are inncidentally owned by the Thayyil family members. Both have unveiled five-fold umbrellas, christened ‘Atom’ by Johns and ‘Nano’ by Popy. As the news report elaborates: “After its success, Johns followed up with umbrellas that provided ultraviolet protection, and another model called H20 Shake with Teflon coating to help raindrops roll off.

“There have been a slew of newer varieties from Johns and Popy – one which opens on pulling a trigger, the others eject ping-pong balls or spray water. The need to stay one step ahead of the competition is an ongoing challenge, and so is adapting to consumer idiosyncrasies when the umbrellas are retailed outside the home turf.”

Of course, people from a particular city or state tend to have preferences according to which the umbrella makers have to modify and customize their offerings. An executive from one of India’s renowned companies in the domain, Sun Umbrellas states that Mumbaikars generally prefer automatic ones unlike Kerala where most people opt for threefold manual umbrellas.

They prefer the more traditional black brolly whereas users in Mumbai tend to gravitate towards brighter colors and the latest fashion. All these nuances have to be kept in mind while creating the designs for a particular region.

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