Fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee faced lot of flak from many who thought that the remarks made by the designer in his Harvard speech were offending and uncalled for. Sabyasachi had told Indian students in Harvard, “I think, if you tell me that you do not know how to wear a sari, I would say shame on you. It’s a part of your culture, and you need to stand up for it.”
People took to social media to express their anger and also labelled the designer “patriarchal” and “anti-feminist”, following which he penned down an open letter addressing his speech and also apologised for his comments on Indian women and the saree.
Sabyasachi Mukherjee shared the open letter on his Instagram handle in a series of three posts, saying that the matter had been blown out of proportion and made into a “gender issue.” He said that he regretted using the word “shame” while talking about the inability of some women to wear a saree at the Harvard India Conference.
Giving a clarification on his remarks, he said that a woman had asked him about his views on the cultural taboo of young women wearing sarees.
In the letter he wrote, “To begin, allow me to sincerely apologise for the words that I used while answering impromptu questions at a conference at Harvard. I am sorry that I used the word ‘shame’ in reference to some women’s inability to wear a sari. I truly regret that the way in which I tried to make a point about the sari enabled it to be interpreted as misogynistic, patriarchal, and non-inclusive – this was certainly not my intention.”
“The ubiquity of such sentiments in our culture, evidenced by the fact that this question was posed to me at Harvard, of all places, was hard-hitting and triggered an unfortunate series of reactions on my part,” he added.
The designer admitted that he used the wrong words to express his point of view. He also mentioned that the majority of his staff at Sabyasachi Couture were women.
“… I am sorry that in the heat of that moment, I allowed this passion to be misplaced. I take full responsibility for this. Body shaming, attaching connotations of ‘Auntie Ji’, calling them sloppy; these are all ways that some men and women alike belittle the sari (and, more accurately, the wearer of the sari).”
The Kolkata-based designer’s complete open letter can be found on his official Instagram handle @sabyasachiofficial