An Indian fashion designer has publicly apologised for saying women who cannot tie saris should be ashamed of themselves, after his comments were labelled sexist and demeaning.
Sabyasachi Mukherjee said: “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.”
Last week at conference on India at Harvard University in the USA, Mr Mukherjee had responded to a question about modern Indian trends, saying: "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, you need to buck up and stand up for it.”
The designer is famous for using traditional Indian looks in his creations, often reviving old styles of handlooms, weaves and cuts. He counts several Bollywood actresses and other public figures among his clients.
"A woman had asked me to comment on the cultural taboo of young women wearing saris because, as she said, society tells them that it ‘makes them look older’," he said.
Millions of Indian women wear saris daily for a host of formal and informal occasions and while many younger females do not wear them all the time, critics asked how Mr Mukherjee got the idea tying the garment was becoming a lost art.
Fashion writer Veena srinath tweeted: “I can wear a saree, and this silly comment still irritates me. What, is Sabyasachi always in a dhoti??”
A dhoti is a traditional cloth worn by Indian men, and the general tone online was one of anger that Mr Mukherjee seemed happy to single out women for apparently deserting traditions, but not his male companions.
I can wear a saree, and this silly comment still irritates me. What, is Sabyasachi always in a dhoti??
— veena_srinath (@veena_srinath) February 12, 2018
The designer denied he was trying to admonish women and claims he was merely caught up in a passionate moment during the Harvard discussion.
“What I said was wrong, but it has been made into an inflammatory issue and I have been hanged on social media and labelled a criminal, called a misogynist, patriarchal and what not.”
“We all make mistakes, and you know I am not one to shy away from admitting it”, he added.
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