Pavlovsky Posad Shawls – Two Hundred Years of Excellence

Girl in Pavlovsky Posad scarf

Pavlovsky Posad is a 223-year-old tradition of Russian excellence. Started in 1795 by Ivan Labzin, a peasant farmer from Pavlova village outside of Moscow. it’s now an empire of a symbolic Russian accessory and souvenir.

Labzin first ‘hired’ a handful of volunteers to work with him in a small workshop producing silk shawls and woven shawls from wool yarn. The workshop grew into a business which Labzin passed on to his sons and grandsons after his death in the 1840s.

By 1860, the company had 3 designers in their pocket.  Later in the 19th century, more cost-effective methods were brought in and more skilled weavers and designers were brought on to help meet the demand as the scarves grew in popularity. After 66 years in business, the company began providing products to the imperial court.

Labzin's Pavlovsky Posad FactoryThe business made more significant changes in 1869 under the hands of Labzin’s grandson (Yakov Labzin) and his assistant (Vasily Gryaznov). The factory took on new production methods that printed patterns on shawls compared to the first scarves that were hand woven and took longer than a year to make. This new technique really sped up production and increased sales making Pavlovsky Posad the largest producer of shawls and kerchiefs in Russia by the 20th century.

 

With the October Revolution and the imperial court disbanded, it seemed that the business would come to an end but it didnt. The factory was nationalized. During World War II, the factory was temporarily closed in 1917 due to a lack of materials. They quickly got back into production. After the revolution, they switched from making shawls to making textiles for the Red Army. With the war over, the soviet government paid more attention to the importance of the arts and traditions of Russian artistry and Pavlovsky Posad was on the list so to speak. The government upgraded the technology bringing in Italian machines and made changes for the betterment of the company.

In 1938, Pavlovsky Posad participated in the Paris world fair and won Grand Prix followed by an award at the world fair in Brussels in 1959 making it world famous.

The cloths are typically composed of 7-9 bright colors with a floral pattern and tassels on the edge. Designers created the patterns and colorists were brought in to find the perfect color combination for each piece. Several color combinations are created for each one. There are more than 800 types of shawls, wraps, scarves, kerchiefs, etc. with 2000 patterns to choose from.

Pavlovsky Posad Shawl

They have changed greatly throughout the years and can still fit in with modern fashions. One thing that’s so great about the shawls is that not only Babki wear them, but you’ll see them on women of all ages. The company has defied the typical perception that a shawl is reserved for old people and has made it an accessory for all time.

The hand-woven shawls of Ivan Labzin’s time were replaced with block printing. Printers used a different block for each color. Metal plates replaced the blocks in the 19th century and nowadays they use revolutionary fabric treatment with plasma chemicals instead of chlorine techniques that other textile companies use. They’re also one of the few companies in the world (and the only textile company in Russia) to have a complete cycle from concept to product. The only part of the process they don’t do is breed the sheep they get the wool from. Always keeping up with the technology, they use modern, environmentally-friendly machines and high-quality colorants from Europe.

Pavlovsky Posad shawl production

 

Visit one of their many stores in Russia to get your own Pavlovsky treasure. Before you go, we advise you to check their online shop first. Look at the designs and patterns and try to get an idea of what you like before going into the store. Seeing all the patterns on the wall all on top of each other can be overwhelming. To make matters worse, the shop attendants don’t allow you to touch them, but they also get irritated if you ask them to pull out too many.

Keep in mind that these are made of wool and silk so you don’t want to get it wet with rain or snow. If you do, be sure to let it dry asap but don’t put it on any kind of heater. This can overheat the threads causing them to become brittle or make your shawl shrink. It’s best to let it air dry.

The key to the business has always been their progressive and cost-effective methods of production. This kind of adaptability has allowed them to stay in business throughout the many revolutions, world wars and changes that took place in Russia. It’s safe to say that this is a business here to stay.

There’s another souvenir made not far from Moscow; Check out my post on Khokloma for more and follow our Facebook and Instagram for other fascinating tidbits.

Stacey Watson

Posted by Stacey Watson

Stacey Watson is an American expat who loves uncovering fascinating tidbits of Russian history and discovering new things to do in St. Petersburg.

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