Sabyasachi bats for handmade
At his recent show, Kashgar Bazaar, Sabyasachi Mukherjee left a small card on the chair of his guests who got to witness his latest collection matched with shoes by Christian Louboutin.
"It is only through repetition can one create iconism," it read. Mukherjee, one of India's most celebrated designers, known for dressing both Anushka Sharma and Deepika Padukone for their wedding, has carved a niche for himself as an artist whose passion for Indian handicrafts is paramount. "There will be no survival of handicrafts if there is no demand for it," said Mukherjee on what needs to be done to preserve the tradition.
"To be able to create demand one needs to educate people about the importance of handcrafted luxury. In an era of rapid digitisation, only things that are handmade are going to be true luxury because these traditions are becoming rarer." Mukherjee feels the attitudes and appreciation towards the centuries-old weaving practices are changing for the better.
"Younger generation of kids are using Indian handicrafts as a weapon for personal identity and I think it is wonderful," he said.
Over the years, Mukherjee's label has raised the handmade component of his clothes to 75-80 per cent, a testament to his commitment to promote artisans.
"When you adopt a craft and go to the artisans, you don't show people a promise of a good business and then discard them," he said.
"You have to take responsibility of growing them along with you." Mukherjee prides in the fact that the extensive copy market that replicates his products is by extension also embracing handwork. "The fact is that it creates a lot of employment," he said.
"I am happy that we influence an entire generation of clothing manufacturers to be able to adopt Indian handicrafts." In a career spanning 20 years, Mukherjee has done only a handful of films including Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Black and Guzaarish.
"I don't like losing control of creative identity," he says. In Bollywood, "you lose your vision to many people's demands and ideas." That isn't it to say he is ruling out films entirely.