If you are waiting for the perfect time to buy your custom made drapery for your home, hotel or business, there may never be a better time than right now. The truth is that, when it comes to custom silk drapes or Roman Shades, the price of raw silk from India is climbing every month. In fact, prices of silk fabrics have increased 20% from 2013 to 2014. The reason for the increase is complicated but the short story is that most of the worlds silk fabrics are woven in India. India has been the world leader in producing silk fabrics for literally hundreds of years. The problem that India has, however, is that they rely on China for the “raw silk”. Raw Silk is harvested from Silk Works who naturally produce raw silk. The raw silk is harvested just like any other natural product would be – and it is susceptible to environmental forces. Too much rain, too little rain, too much heat or too little heat effects production. No different really than how Midwest and Southwest Farmers in the US harvest cotton. The difference is that the raw silk comes from the silk work, so it is really more analogous to harvesting milk from cows. Unfortunately the weather in China in recent years has not been optimal for silk worm production.
The second and more serious long-term issue facing India’s Silk Production is the rise of China’s Middle Class. As little as 15 years ago their was a very small segment of China’s population who would even consider buying products made of Silk. Today the economy in China is booming and the middle-class is exploding. With this new found wealth, more Chinese are buying products made in Silk. Families are buying traditional Chinese Kimonos made in silk rather than polyester or a cheaper blend of synthetic materials. As this portion of China’s Economy Grows, they are demanding more of the Products and Services that once were considered “Export Only”. As a result, China is keeping the majority of best quality of Raw Silk for themselves. The lower quality Raw Silk is now sent to India where the Mills have much more difficulty yielding good quality silk fabrics in high volume. Thus, prices go up.
The global impact of China’s rising Middle-Class and the increased demand for aspirational products and services is that the price of those products and services will rise around the world. When you consider that China has the largest population on the planet, even minute increases in domestic consumption can send shock-waves around the world.
What does this mean to US Consumers of products like Silk Drapes? It means that prices will only be increasing for the foreseeable future.