Clothes And Indianness

The WTF lines of the day come from the fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee:

In the light of the recent terror attacks, I feel that we should assert our unity through our Indianness in clothing. […] Think about it, men and women in Indian traditional wear is the first step towards feeling Indian… and thinking like one. Picture this — men in kurtas and women in saris or salwar kurtas at CST station on a busy Friday morning.

If Mukherjee ever does go to CST on “a busy Friday morning”, he will find most of the women there dressed in “saris or salwar kurtas” anyway. Maybe it doesn’t seem that way from whichever five-star hotel he stays at when he comes here for his fashion shows, but most Indian women wear Indian clothes most of the time.

And anyway, what is an Indian dress? If one gets anal about it, and takes a historical perspective, one could argue that stitched clothing came to India from outside, and salwar-kurtas and saree blouses thus don’t qualify as Indian. Equally, I would argue that the jeans and T-shirt I’m wearing right now are as Indian as the churidar kurta I wear on special occasions—to begin with, they’re manufactured here. Perhaps Mukherjee, or Sabya as the DNA article refers to him, feels less Indian when he wears jeans—I don’t.

And while I wear kurtas quite often, the reason I mostly wear jeans with them, and not a churidar or suchlike, is a practical one: Jeans have zippers. With ‘Indian’ clothing, the logistics of relieving oneself, when one needs to pee, can get daunting—especially for a lazy half-bong like me.

‘Sabya’ also says in that article that he is “actually planning to approach the Planning Commission of India with this suggestion.” How I’d love to be a fly in the wall when that meeting takes place. A fly in jeans.