Updated: Oct 31, 2022
When one thinks Sabyasachi, one thinks saree, and that is how closely the two are connected and have been for several years in Indian fashion. Sabyasachi Mukherjee is a fashion designer from Kolkata, India, who has been selling under his label, 'Sabyasachi', since 1999. Sabyasachi’s designs are designs of the past, present, and future, and that’s what makes him one of the leading contemporary Indian designers. He is the only Indian designer to be a part of all three leading fashion weeks: New York, Milan, and London.
Ever since the American political scientist Joseph S Nye Jr. introduced the term “soft power” in the international relations discourse back in the 1980s, countries across the world have embraced this idea to augment their global positioning and influence. A country’s soft power essentially refers to its ability to attract other nations through its culture, foreign policy, and political values, rather than the use of military might. While the idea of soft power is only a few decades old, many countries are globally acclaimed for their cultural assets and values that date back centuries and remain sought after still today.
One such country is India, whose soft power is underpinned by its civilizational heritage and cultural prowess. Unlike many other nations that have homogenized, or rather westernized their culture, India’s diverse yet coherent cultural fabric spreads across the length and breadth of the country, thereby leading to cultural heterogenization. Furthermore, the rise of India’s global stature in recent decades at various multilateral forums, the increasing popularity of Yoga and Ayurveda,the epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana and the world community embracing Namaste as a greeting during the ongoing pandemic are some of the most evident examples of Indian soft power.
Released by Brand Finance, the Global Soft Power Index 2021 ranks Indian soft power thirty-sixth globally and first in South Asia. The UK-based consulting firm also ranked India seventh globally in terms of the most valuable nation brands. India is a culture-driven soft power. One example is the availability and appreciation of Indian cinema as a source of recreation in the conflict-ridden Afghanistan. Another major cultural export is Indian gastronomy, be it turmeric latte sold in cafés, jackfruits used in gourmet preparations or the Australian PM Scott Morison’s display of Samosa diplomacy. Arts, fashion and handicrafts, literary works, performing arts and tourism are other key aspects of Indian soft power.
Mukherjee has pioneered the use of traditional Indian textiles and craftsmanship, such as hand-dyeing, block printing, bandhani tie-dye, and Gota work embroidery, in his elegant fashions and bridal wear, garnering international praise and was awarded Best Indian Designer by several organizations. In one of his interviews, Sabyasachi described his style as ‘personalized imperfection of the human hand’.
He has drawn most of his ideas from his surroundings and his childhood. Gypsies, deserts, antique use of fabrics, textiles, and embroideries get beautifully woven into each sari, lehenga or salwar kameez, which are his areas of expertise.Vintage and old world Indian charm is extremely apparent through all the motifs and techniques used. He describes it as ‘International styling with an Indian soul’. While the whole fashion industry has taken a plunge in modern day designs and techniques, Sabyasachi’s designs stay completely rooted in what India really is.
Bollywood and Hollywood stars gliding down red carpets in his gowns unveils what he learned inside that vintage Vogue.When it comes to his wedding outfits, it appears that Bollywood actresses have a soft corner for Sabyasachi’s bridal collection. From Deepika Padukone to Katrina Kaif, several actresses chose Sabyasachi to design their wedding ensembles. He has also greatly revived the use of Khadi in the world of textiles and fabrics. In Vogue's Renaissance Project, the world's top designers were asked to design fashion clothing using Indian textiles and weaves.
Indian fashion has carved a niche in the international fashion front. Indian textiles and fabrics were already a rage in the foreign markets and now the designers have stepped in to enthrall the international fashion industry. Due to the varied cultures in India, there is no particular or single dressing style. This diversified nation has given a vast scope of creativity to the designers. Blending different dressing styles have set new trends. The rapid growth in the Indian fashion industry has made it fast-moving and demanding in the foreign markets. The Indian clothing market has been increasing at a rapid pace. Its market in foreign countries has reached to million dollars.
As per the reports of the Fashion Design Council of India, the Indian designer market which is currently worth $50 to $60 million will shoot up to $225 million in the next ten years. The Indian fashion industry is growing rapidly and is reaching the top level internationally. India is growing swiftly in almost all the spheres therefore; it comes as no surprise when it is conquering the fashion world as well. It is an exciting phase for the Indian fashion and designers who are rapidly growing and excelling on the international fashion front.
BY DIPIKA SINGH