Most of us have our indulgences; some women are into makeup, handbags and shoes, others are into their own passions. I’ve always had a soft spot for saris. In high school, I started following the work of a designer eponymously called Sabyasachi. His saris were authentic Indian weaves with stunning hand embroidered fancy, each piece a work of art. I dreamt of calling one my own, anticipating some sense of fulfillment. 11 years later, when I had finally saved up to make this dream come true, I insisted on a trip to the Sabyasachi store. It felt like a pilgrimage; all these years of meditating on their unattainable campaigns and talking to friends about my favorite pieces and here I was. I ran my hands along the cloth. The lady showed me exact pieces that some of the biggest Bollywood stars had worn. We looked and looked and finally, my heart settled on this beautiful blue Matka silk piece. I tried it, I walked about, I felt like a million dollars, we oohed and aahed, paid for it and we walked out. And just like that, it was over. The high lasted exactly 5 minutes.
My intent isn’t to minimize the brand or capitalize on a Sabyasachi moment and emphasize my privilege but I had to spend a good deal of time trying to understand how the label”Sabyasachi” and the purchase itself created such a sense of cognitive dissonance. In my 2 years of ownership, I have found the opportunity to wear it exactly once. Did I buy it to impress people? How would “they” even know it wasn’t a knockoff? Often, our communities look not at a person but their outfit with the intent of judging to see if it measure up to the latest trends and labels. Was I caving? The only real way to reconcile this for me was by reminding myself that I bought this because I love this piece and it fits my style. However, my sari’s designer shouldn’t be the reason someone pauses to say hello. I am grateful for the measures Sabyasachi takes to hone craftsmanship and promote the garb of my people. I remind myself of the enormous privilege I have to own it. I wear it however, like any other sari in my wardrobe and pray that it does not wear me.