The Interview: Sabyasachi Mukherjee

Sabyasachi Mukherjee is considered amongst some crowds to be the Jean Paul Gaultier of India. He mixes incredible textiles made with centuries old knowledge and fuses them into modern and chic designs that can be worn a variety of ways. Sabyasachi was kind enough to make clothing for my recent interviews in India and I experienced firsthand why his aesthetic is so revered in his country and abroad.

AB: Why did you choose fashion as a career and from where do you draw inspiration?

SM: I did not choose fashion. Fashion chose me because there was an institute of fashion that had come up in front of my house and I was the curious child who wanted to know what it represented, and enrolled. I draw inspiration from everything around me, because what you see gets reflected in your work, so a lot of my inspiration is drawn from Calcutta, my hometown.

AB: How is men’s fashion fundamentally different on the subcontinent of India as compared to the rest of the world?

SM: I think men in India at one point of time used to be the real dandies. Somewhere down the line, we confused our identity, and men in India have become far more conservative than the Maharajas of yore who would make a great effort in dressing up. Right now, I think men are very apologetic about dressing up while the rest of the world has imbibed from us and become the multicultural dandy.

AB: What is lacking in menswear in India, major cities in particular?

SM: What is really lacking is a sophisticated line of clothes with a little undercurrent of risqué in it. Men’s clothing in India is either too over embellished or too plain. There is no fine balance in between.

AB: What was the main catalyst for you to start your line?

SM: I just got bored of everybody’s clothes and like all businesses; I too started because I felt that there was a need or a vacuum that needed filling up. I used to get really annoyed when I needed to shop for menswear in India and I realized the best way to address that need was to make your own clothes.

AB: What do you hope your legacy contributes to menswear and the image of Indian designers around the globe?

SM: I think India has never been regarded as a country that does fine tailoring. If you look at our custom made men’s sherwanis, they are an ode to fine men’s tailoring yet at the same time we bring to the forefront our textile, cultural and handicraft heritage which can teach the world a thing or two about men’s fashion not having to be cookie cutter.