Comment: The blind spot in Sabyasachi’s inclusive campaign

Why have people forgotten that Sabyasachi by nature is, exclusive?

By Farheen Abdullah

KARACHI: Indian fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee recently caught attention of local and international audiences when he featured a plus size model in his 2021 collection. The campaign featured a woman who is not a professional model nor a part of the fashion industry at large. For the photoshoot, she adorned a red bridal saree and showed off her curves. No doubt she looked stunning and soon after, Sabyasachi was being praised left, right and centre for hiring a plus size model and representing ‘real women’.

However, many seemed to have forgotten that Sabyasachi is an exclusive brand by nature. In a fleeting moment of inclusivity, how did most people overlook the fact that the brand caters to a niche market? Since Sabyasachi’s website is currently being renovated, a quick search on Google told me that Sabyasachi’s sarees start from INR 50,000 and can go up to INR 3,00,000.

sabyasachi plus size model

Not many would have forgotten that Anushka Sharma, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra, all chose Sabyasachi outfits for their weddings. Sharma’s lehenga alone is said to have cost INR 30 lacs. Of course, if a brand is a popular choice amongst some of India’s biggest celebrities, its aim is probably not to cater to the masses?

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This is not to say that Sabyasachi should not have featured a plus size model for their campaign. Even more brands need to be following the same path. But the problem with brands like Sabyasachi is that they are inaccessible for the masses. And realistically speaking, the brand is not inaccessible because of the size of its clothes, or the petite models that it mostly features. Nor does a saree (which is largely bought as loose fabric) restrict its audience the way ready-to-wear clothes do. Sabyasachi and others remain inaccessible because of their price range.

The recent campaign is being praised for representing real women and catering to all body types. But is Sabyasachi also catering to all (or most) classes? If the brand continues to only cater to plus size women from upper or upper-middle class, how truly inclusive is it?

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