Back in the day, no home was complete without the ubiquitous steel Godrej Storwel that held a family’s most valuable possessions. We take you on the brand’s long journey

Of all the jingles that I remember from my childhood, the Godrej Storwel tune is distinctly clear in my head. A young couple is getting married and they are gifted a Godrej Storwel wardrobe.  The ad ends with them putting their belongings away in the new wardrobe, a metaphor for a lifetime of togetherness- but make no mistake, this is a love story of three- the couple and their Godrej Storwel wardrobe because a Storwel purchase was meant for life. 

The history of the Storwel dates back to 1923, when Godrej started making steel wardrobes. The company had tasted success with selling locks and safes, and were pitching these as Safe-Cabinets.  Wooden cupboards prevailed at the time, so the sales pitch positioned them as thief-proof, vermin-proof and cheap. They were also multi-purpose and could be used for houses, offices and shops alike. Fire resistant versions were introduced in the 1930s.

The Safe-Cabinet was rebranded as Storwel by the early 1950s and seen as an insurance against theft. Ads at the time pitched them accordingly with lines like “Godrej Storwel baffles burglars” and “You cannot do better than Storwel.” By the 60s, the Storwel brand had diversified into office furniture. The appearance of the Storwel remained largely unchanged until the 2000s, when subtle changes were made. The thickness of the overall steel gauge was reduced and the creaking sound that was synonymous with opening the closet doors was eliminated. It is a testament to the product’s iconic nature that Godrej has not advertised the Storwel wardrobe in the last 15 years.

A wider choice of colours was made available to customers in the last decade. While wooden furniture has certainly invaded a large chunk of the wardrobe market, the Storwel retains its popularity. A company spokesperson shared that the south and east of India remain the biggest markets for Storwel, a place where people sometimes get a wooden shell installed, and fit a steel Storwel closet inside. I have seen this bizarre anecdote played out when I visited a home in Kerala a few years ago.  

Today, it may be a tougher market for the iconic wardrobe, with lighter wooden furniture pieces, which can be dismantled and are easier to move around, but the brand equity of the classic Godrej Storwel remains unquestioned. 

Image courtesy: Godrej Archive

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