21 Aug 2020 21:21 IST

Bombay Dyeing weaving every thread into a grand tapestry

The brand continues to be known for the quality of its linen, its immaculate finish and unique designs

The company which telecasted the first ever colour TV ad in the 1980s is still one of the most recognised and respected textile brands in India. Bombay Dyeing and Manufacturing is the flagship company of the Wadia Group.



As everyone knows, towards the end of the 19th CE, Bombay (now Mumbai) was one of the chief cotton ports of the world. The Wadia Group, now more than 250 years old, was primarily engaged in ship-building. As new business opportunities opened up through industrialisation, Nowrosjee Wadia recognised greater possibilities in the textile industry and founded Bombay Dyeing in 1879.




Early beginnings

The textile industry is heavily dependent on changing technology, from water wheels to steam engines and shuttles, and raw cotton, which in turn is influenced by crop area, monsoon, fertilisers, pest control, and so on. The other influential factor is the buying power of the consumer.

Bombay Dyeing had humble beginnings. A red-brick shed housed the operations, with the cotton yarn being dip dyed by hand in three colours — red, green and orange, initially, and sun dried. There was only one store and Wadia was the manager.

A mill was installed in 1897 and production increased as demand steadily went up. The Wadia Group reportedly became the first in India to install automatic looms and by 1956 after having imported 2,000 looms. By the end of the decade, a process house had been added, and Bombay Dyeing became a vertically integrated manufacturing company.

Diverse range of products

Though the company offered a collection of sarees, shirts and dress material alongside bed and bath linen, it slowly came to be known more as the go-to place for bedsheets and towels. In 1961, three retail outlets were established and five distributors were added to the list. By the 1970s, it had entered even rural markets.



The manufacturing base was moved from Mumbai to Ranjangaon, near Pune, which was later sold off. The company soon became the first textile brand in India to introduce theme-based design collections. It became the first brand to join up with a leading fashion designer — Sabyasachi — to launch a signature line in 2006.

As competition increased, other innovations followed. Bombay Dyeing , in 2010, came out with ‘Aroma Rich,’ a range of fragrant bed linens and ‘E-Magic’ bedsheets with Vitamin E properties. It even launched a mobile-friendly online platform and mobile apps in 2014 in a bid to attract younger consumers.

Bombay Dyeing ventured into personalisation of products in 2018 to keep the consumer’s interest. Slowly, customised bedsheets and other textile products were also introduced.

International standards

Apart from the retail business ‘Home and You,’ Bombay Dyeing is also engaged in two other businesses — Realty and Polyester. But textile manufacturing — with spinning and winding facilities exceeding 1.3 lakh ring spindles — is said to be its main activity even today, giving it maximum brand recall among consumers.

Its manufacturing units conform to international standards with the ISO9002:1994 certification for ‘Quality Management System,’ the ISO14001:1996 certification for ‘Environmental Management System’ and the BVQI's ‘SafetyCert’ certification for ‘Occupational Health and Safety Management System’. It is also claimed to be the earliest signatory to the ‘Responsible Care’ initiative of the Indian Chemical Manufacturers Association , now known as the Indian Chemical Council.

Bombay Dyeing has more than 25 company-owned stores, set to become experience-centres, about 400 franchise stores, 3,000 multi-brand retail outlets, its own e-commerce portal, and a presence in all major e-commerce platforms. It has its own studio to look into innovative new product designs, too. The brand continues to be known for the quality and texture of its linen, its immaculate finish and detailed designs. In 2019, it entered the menswear category with its line ‘Cezari.’

Largest exporter of textiles

Almost 50 per cent of its products is exported to the USA, the Netherlands, the UK, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand, making it the country’s largest exporter of textiles.

In its category, Bombay Dyeing was the first brand to move from commodity to brand advertising. As a pioneer in cinema and TV advertising, it has always been in the public eye, right from ‘Knock out fabrics from Bombay Dyeing’ to the ‘Ebony and Ivory’ launch to ‘Fashion forwardness’ and most recently, ‘Make your own bedsheet’ campaign. It has attracted many customers over the years by launching special schemes for Valentine’s Day and festivals, such as, Onam and Durga Pooja. Some of the brand ambassadors are Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore, the late Sridevi, and Lisa Ray.

Social impact

More significantly, it also took up socially responsible issues like the #Takebacksleep campaign which stressed the importance of sufficient sleep and even had an interactive quiz to make it more interesting. Bombay Dyeing was the first company to open a provident fund and one of the first to establish family planning centres for its workers. It had generously contributed to the 2015-16 Tamil Nadu flood relief operations.

It has won a slew of awards over the years, including Retailer of the Year 2005 award, Super Brand in 2006-2007, Brand Leadership Award in Retail Sector (Merit) 2013, Asia's Most Trusted Company 2018, India's Most Trusted Brand 2019 and the SRTEPC and TEXPROCIL Gold Trophies for its outstanding export performance for poly cotton blended fabrics and made-ups.