Known for his A-grade clientele and B-grade social media game, fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee has yet again free-dived into controversy thanks to a photo he shared on Women’s Day.
One would think that after the designer’s saree-shaming comments that invited stinging backlash, and the ‘stolen credit’ row over Deepika Padukone’s wedding trousseau, his social media team would have a strategy to help prevent this continual lodging of one’s foot firmly in the mouth. But perhaps when your target group’s the privileged who’s who of the country, you don’t need to care about being called out for your performative inclusitivity by a few hundred random women on the Internet who probably won’t ever buy your lehengas.
Anyone who has followed Sabyasachi’s well-documented meteoric rise would tell you that he is known for starting many new trends on the ramp and otherwise, but size inclusitivity on either, is not one of them. His models have always been slender, tall, and fair to wheat complexioned. Like Eugeniya Belousova (@eugeniya.whitee/Instagram), a prominent face of every single collection Sabyasachi has dropped recently.
Over the years, neither through his ad print campaigns nor through his shows has Sabyasachi shown an inclination towards promoting models on the heavier side, so it is perhaps no wonder that his Women’s Day post featuring a stunning Varshita Thatavarthi has backfired. Why decide to use a plus-sized woman to ‘celebrate the confidence of women’ when on the regular, the women you hire to ‘celebrate’ and promote your clothes, look nothing like her?
It’s 2019 Sabyasachi, and most people can see through your brocade-wrapped attempt to grab brownie points through an empty, exploitative gesture that seeks to ‘normalise’ a body-type and you and your ilk is responsible for shaming by exclusion in the first place. And out of all the adjectives one can use to describe the ravishing Varshita, who looks like the literal embodiment of the fire emoji, why caption the picture ‘confidence’? As if only confidence could lead to the sheer audacity of a larger, dark-skinned woman in a glamorous setting that’s usually reserved for ‘conventionally sized women’ in your portfolio.
Social media has been swift to notice the ‘change’ in Sabyasachi’s Women’s Day model and the models he generally chooses to promote through his pages:
To fashion designers everywhere looking for a woke cookie based on tokenism and no real change, here’s a pro-tip: DON’T. Stick to what you know best: exclusion. When the clothes you choose to design cater to just some sizes, the models you seek out and hire are deliberately never ever curvaceous or plus-sized, and if your strategy in picking the ‘face’ of your brand is consciously not inclusive, try not to celebrate the women you have ‘othered’, for believe it or not, people have caught on to how tone-deaf this is.
Safe to say, this is perhaps one of the few things Sabyasachi has been unable to sell in the recent years.