My fave brand FabIndia courted controversy very recently with the abrahamization of their commercial for the Hindu festival Deepavali aka Diwali. The store called the occasion ‘jashn-e-riwaaz’ only to get whipped by the backlash that followed as the Hindu community typically came up with a kneejerk reaction. The popular global brand of Indian textiles must know after the Tanishq experience.
As a patron for many years of this exclusive chain store (which is only in recent years having this many outlets), i found the ad very offending. But more ridiculous is the way our netizens discuss the label in social media. One claim of a single visit to the showroom and of the poor quality for exorbitant pricing was dripping hatred and totally unjustified. A bevy of nonsense followed smacking of ignorance, most of all haughty and boorish.
The said advt was removed immediately from media once the sensitivity of the Hindus was aired in social media.
But for the netizens to dwell upon the slight and dissect it at length with such a nastiness is uncalled for. Fifteen years or so back, nobody talked of handblocks or vegetable dyes. This brand did it and had it. Procurement was directly from weavers when it was not the norm. Fabindia were way ahead of the leading names of present times. Their silks also used to be muted, not flashy. Men’s kurtas were top of the range. Still are. The store attracted me with it its understated elegance. Now they have diversified into a variety of consumer/lifestyle catalogues all of which are of uncompromising standards.
Were they overpriced? May be as I said it was possible when they hadn’t expanded much and when we had limited branches to shop from. Their line of clothing was unique and a fusion of contemporary with the artisan which commanded a price. In that way I saw them as trendsetters or fashion-makers. It was a time when online shopping was a far cry. And handblocks especially were not yet in vogue. FabIndia could have been exclusively having handdyed kurtas in those days. Even now when we have so many, many options to choose from, I love their loose fits. I love their silk kurtas and own almost all shades. The wash instructions are pretty clear: handwash in water or dryclean very many times. As a rule for handdyed fabrics, machine wash and dryer-spinner are ruled out. If we stick to instructions, their merchandise last longest. I have friends who have been using the brand for over two decades without a complaint. I could be a brand ambassador myself: i have done a lot, lot of shopping from them and they still have the class that most other sellers lack. As for Patialas, i don’t think any other brand has it like them. What a flow. Same for Chikankari collection. Elegance. Casual chic. Breezy fit. That is how I would like to describe theirs. I own dozens of their outfits – kurtas in silk, handblock handdyed cottons, straight pants, patialas, salwars. Last year for the first time i shopped for dresses from them as well. I am one totally satisfied customer.
Yestderday I was put off by the ad. But like Tanishq i must admit that Fabindia never compromise on their standards. If anyone finds them expensive or not upto mark, it means they do not care for wash instructions and they have no idea on fashion trend or market pricing. Handblocks are expensive whichever label they may be. Handblocks with veg dyes do fade away faster. Colours will bleed on repeated washes but will hold after some time. That is when the true beauty of the garment will come out. Then there is the element of human error in handblocking process which lends the fabric its authenticity stamp. The brand showrooms are posh and employ efficient staff. Shopping with them is an experience matchless, and rare for an Indian brand. Pricing is a product of many, many add-ons such as ambience etc. The ignorance of some parties is pathetic and comes through the way they discuss anything that goes against them. The obvious fact is that machine made textiles last longest with colour never running being factory produce. And ofcourse come hell lot cheaper! Naturally!
As for styling, as someone not good at accessorizing or understanding fashion, I can still reckon how Fabindia was among the first to introduce the semi patialas, the straight ijar pants, the harem pants, short kurtas, the wraparounds, boatnecks, chikankari the way we know them today, initiating a bold trend and making a powerful fashion statement. Such a new and refreshing look to the old wardrobe.
I said i wouldn’t go for the brand again. I will not shop with them for a brief time to register my protest. Then after decent lapse of time i shall return to the showroom. I have been shopping with them for almost twenty years now. If the brand has not repented, it is another story. What is not overpriced in this country. From cricket player to movie actor. Nobody is forcing consumers to buy them. Consumers are kings. They pay the right price for what they think they want.
Demonizing anything or anyone who does not agree with us is evil. You can condemn someone or something for the wrong, but not for everything. You cannot use the slip as excuse to character assassinate them.
Whatever it is, let us argue, let us badmouth and then let us forgive and forget. This kind of stoking hate and fueling hate is horrible. I have no appetite for this kind of negative emotion. Every opportunity must not be used to propagate hate..
And yes, Diwali is DIWALI only NOT FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS. No way Jashn-e-riwaaz. Don’t send me your season’s greetings for Hindu festivals. Greet me ‘happy Deepavali, happy Pongal, happy Navratri.’ Greet me by the Hindu name of our festivals. Big, big no to generic names to Hindu festivals or abrahamization of Hindu festivals or anything Hindu. We are Hindus and WE ARE NOT AND NEVER WILL BE ABRAHAMICS. We revere our Dharmic roots very much and we want nothing to do with abrahamics that have no relevance for Hindus. Hindus for over 2000 years or perhaps 10000 years. Hindu Dharma – the longest surviving continuous native civilization in the world. Yes, you will have to swallow it.