Whose craft is it anyway? Sabya row sparks important debate: Shefalee Vasudev

(Shefalee Vasudev is the editor-in-chief of The Voice of Fashion. The article first appeared in the print edition of Times of India)

 

  • If you are a fashion consumer, or follow it as a popular culture sport, chances are you know why two otherwise distinct brands – Sabyasachi Mukherjee and H&M – when spoken of in one breath led to an exhalation of opinions this week. Sabyasachi Mukherjee, among India’s foremost couturiers and a brilliant design mind, came under fire for its interpreting Sanganeri block prints, a GI protected craft practised by Rajasthan’s Chhipa community, for his H&M collection Wanderlust. A section of learned crafts practitioners felt he was being insensitive to artisans and the heritage of the country of his imagination and business. “We are deeply pained by the missed opportunity that ‘Wanderlust’ has been for artisans livelihoods. The publicity material implies that the range is connected with Indian craft. However, it is not made by Indian artisans with no visible benefit to them…” stated an open letter with about 200 signatories, including India’s most respected crafts leaders and representatives of advocacy groups.

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