DNA Of Indian Fashion: Sabyasachi


To comprehend the meteoric success and global recognition of Sabyasachi Mukherjee, it’s imperative to dive deep into the designer’s proclivity for maximalism and unwavering mission to build India’s first luxury super brand. His opulent flagship launches are an extension of his signature cultural savoir-faire. Here the celebrated couturier elaborates on building a legacy ecosystem through the immersive ‘Sabyasachi Experience’.

ELLE: The ‘Sabyasachi experience’ has become a larger-than-life affair. How do you manage to stay on top of your game?

Sabyasachi Mukherjee (SM): Thank you for that. I think it’s because it’s the only game I play. This is my raison d’etre. Creating Sabyasachi, for me, has never been for fame or glory. I stay away from celebrity culture, Bollywood and Instagram. And this is why I will never leave Kolkata. I have spent my life ensuring we make heirloom quality products using legacy crafts and heritage techniques for India and now the world. My community lies between my ateliers, factories and stores. My stores are an extension of my home to invite the world in, to welcome everyone who wants to spend some time with my world of art, craft, heritage and design. It’s why I build them as living museums.

ELLE: How do you balance your signature cultural savoir-faire and being a businessman?

SM: I’m a middle-class boy at the end of the day. I think the bane of the fashion and luxury industry has been entitled indulgence to a certain extent. Cultural savoir-faire and the sophistication of aesthetics and craft are as much art as it’s a responsibility. Lives, livelihoods and entire legacies depend on this. Business has never been a bad word in my book. For me, EBITDA is as important as embroidery. One does not exist without the other, at least not in an economically sustainable way. To ensure I can encourage the highest savoir-faire that stands the test of time, not just in the products we make but through the brand and ecosystem we build.

ELLE: What motivates and inspires the maestro?

SM: The women in my life. My grandmothers, my mother, Madonna, Frida Kahlo, Runa Laila, Amrita Sher-Gill, Gayatri Spivak, my neighbour in her minis and red pout, my friend’s mother with her long silver hair and stiff khadi saris, the working women of Kolkata waiting at the bus stops elbows out fighting for their space. They taught me independence and strength. And in their sophistication and style, I found my voice.

ELLE: How do you foresee the future of Indian craft and textiles on the global map?

SM: Much to the chagrin of several councils, I’ve always said that the future of Indian craft and textiles is in luxury. I believe in building economic sustainability for crafts and craftspeople. Crafts and textiles need to be celebrated in their finest forms. And with a point of view and design that makes it dynamic, relevant and timeless. The business model of the fast fashion world doesn’t work for the handmade. Luxury, more importantly, slow luxury is based on the artisanal, on legacy and the handmade. India needs to claim and grow its share in the global luxury goods market —and I’ve always said that the way forward for global Indian luxury is in our rich history of crafts and textiles.

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Also read, DNA Of Indian Fashion: Shantnu & Nikhil

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