A simple ritual known as tonsuring has opened doors for a multi-billion dollar export business for Indians and it does not even need a complicated manufacturing process, just a dash of good old tradition.
World renowned temples like Tirumala Temple in Tamil Nadu accumulate millions of tons of shaved human hair as part of the ritual of tonsuring with as much as 158 million tonnes of fibre auctioned back in 2019. The same tradition continues and one person’s (hair)loss is many people’s gain.
The big advantage for Indian natural hair is the limited treatment it receives due to consumer affordability of chemical heavy hair products, making it malleable and of top quality for wig makers to churn out highly in-demand products for global markets. The desire to look beautiful on an everyday basis drives women world over to try a whole range of cosmetics for confidence at work and other areas of life. The hair extensions have become the natural progression to this wave of beautification.
Naturally, with such high demand in international markets, the black market in India rampaged huge volumes of human hair and smuggled it all to countries like China and Hong Kong via Myanmar. Several Bangladeshi businesses run wig sweatshops that take a share of the smuggled Indian human hair.
Despite the Government’s stringent and meticulous screening on which suppliers to hand out licenses to, the market is destined to grow. Valued at US$5.8 Bn in 2021, it is expected to grow exponentially, finding buyers in both APAC and Africa where the desire to look good and imitate west has been more rampant than ever. Middle East is another market where the export opportunities for human hair are high.
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Not just the export destinations listed above but demand from Spain, Indonesia, Turkey, Italy, Japan and United Kingdom has made this a hot export commodity at the moment.
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