'Growing demand for Indian hair in overseas markets'

'Growing demand for Indian hair in overseas markets'

The versatility and adaptability of the naturally thick and strong hair of Indians make it a favorite of the global wig-making industry and a big business for e-commerce websites, said Sandeep Deshpande, the General Manager of Alibaba.com's India operations.

"Indians are known to use natural remedies for keeping hair thick, long and beautiful, which is one of the biggest reasons for the growing demand for Indian hair in overseas markets," he told PTI from Mumbai.

According to the latest data from Alibaba.com, the world's largest online business-to-business (B2B) trading platform, 42 per cent of global searches for human hair on the website in the past year were specific to Indian hair.

Indian hair could be easily dyed and styled to match natural hair and was therefore the choice for those looking to add length and volume to their natural hair.

With an annual turnover of close to a million dollars, Chennai-based Om Sakthi Murugan Enterprises collects hair from the popular Tirupati Balaji temple in Andhra Pradesh, besides the Lord Shiva, Murugan and Perumal temples and other small ones in Tamil Nadu.

"After receiving the hair from temples, we segregate the varieties, remove the dirt, wash and dry them in sunlight before exporting to customers," M Venkatesan, the firm's proprietor, who has been selling human hair for the last five years, said.

The surge in demand in Western markets for hair extensions could also be credited to Hollywood celebrities like English pop and R&B artist Cheryl Cole, who is also a model and actor; American actress Sarah Jessica Parker and singer Beyonce Knowles, who were recently spotted with bouffant dos.

"With Bollywood performing well in the overseas markets, Indian actresses with long hair have also become fashion icons. This could be another contributing factor to the surge in Indian human hair extension exports," the Alibaba official said.

Kochi-based Mallika Sreekumar, the CEO of Waves Hair, even travelled all the way to Brazil in 2005 to understand the hair extension business and marketing modalities before setting up her online shop.

On Alibaba.com, business demand for Indian hair extension products from the UK and the US, the two biggest markets for India, experienced healthy year-on-year growth of more than 90 per cent last quarter.

In the second quarter of this year, US buyers showed the greatest interest in Indian hair extension products, accounting for 42 per cent of all buyer inquiries received by Indian suppliers.

UK and France were other top buyer markets after the US, accounting for 9 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively, of all related buyer inquiries during the quarter.

Other prominent buyer markets for Indian hair extensions globally are Brazil, Canada, South Africa, Spain, Germany and China.

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