Artisans raise questions over Sabyasachi X H&M collab and the designer's response to 'Open Letter' follows
Ever since the launch of Sabyasachi X H&M dropped, the backlash has been pouring in where the Indian designer is targeted without a pause. Netizens at first raised their dismay towards the inflated price tags and recently Dastkari Haat Samiti, the national association of craftspeople, raised concerns over how not a single piece from the ‘Wanderlust’ collection was handmade and the non-inclusion of artisans to manufacture these products were frozen out.
So, here goes, another day, another response by Sabyasachi Mukherjee to the Open Letter. This collaboration was put together to make the designer’s collection accessible to a larger set of people as well as to promote the ‘Designed in India’ and ‘Made in India’ concept on a global level as rightly mentioned by the man himself. The letter started with a thankful note as he goes on to address the questions mentioned by artisans that talks about Indian crafts and craftspeople.
The retail brand reaches out to the designer at first to make a capsule collection that is easily accessible to the public worldwide. He further mentioned that this wasn’t his daily cup of tea and this is different. While he always encouraged craftspeople, the heritage of textiles and craft which he will continue for days to come, he believes that the beauty of the artisanal can never be mass-produced or reproduced mechanically or digitally. And, ‘Wanderlust’ is no substitute for couture or artisanal. Sabyasachi’s mission as an Indian designer is that “To elevate Indian craft into luxury, and that is a mission I will carry on working on within the luxury space.” And in his words, the collaboration with H&M is different as it was about putting “Indian design on the international map”. He sees this as a big win for himself and the brand, and that it’s also a ‘big win’ for our nation.
There were three conditions involved that served as the fundamental elements in curating ‘Wanderlust’, the first being ‘distinctly Indian’ because this would be reflective of the designer and his brand. The second would stress upon the majority of the collection would be ‘Made In India’ BY H&M. And, the last one would be H&M’s first-ever sari, which would be in this launch. For Sabyasachi, “Indian crafts and the artisanal belong in the world of luxury, not on the high street. And, he cannot dilute his commitment to the craftspeople who he has supported and worked so closely with for over two decades.” Referring to the inspiration-board of ‘Wanderlust’ he claimed that, “It was inspired by travel, the ancient cultures of the world, and the rich heritage of Indian crafts and textiles.”
He spoke about the prints that made to the collection and how the replication of Sanganeri hand block print holds no relevance here. “It is a hybrid that is inspired by the aesthetic of the sanganeri block print, the French toile, chintz prints and so on. And it has not been marketed or sold as a Sanganeri print, or for that matter as an artisanal product. We’re not just aware but are deeply respectful of Indian crafts, Geographical Indication, Representation and the rights of our artisans.” He ended the letter with a statement of what this collaboration meant to him. Sabyasachi sees this as an introduction to one aspect of where Indian fashion and design is heading, and the potential of where everyone can go. He hopes ‘Wanderlust’ becomes a message to the Indian designer. The skilled designer sees authenticity as something that “comes from celebrating one’s individuality, that may or may not be rooted in heritage and craft.” He concluded, “I have always been a champion of the Indian karigar, and I will continue to do so.”
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