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Indian Fashion Designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee. Wikimedia commons

Indian retail giant Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited acquired a 51 percent stake in the Sabyasachi brand for Rs 398 crore. Just over two decades old, this label’s life has been full of milestone moments, this investment could position Sabyasachi as India’s first global fashion house.

2020 was an unusually quiet year for fashion label Sabyasachi. It started with a bang, as he unveiled a 65-piece Haute Joaillerie (high jewelry) collection at New York’s Bergdorf Goodman, considered one of the finest stores in the world. Hot on the heels of this launch came the news that the designer label had been chosen for collaboration with global fast-fashion brand H&M, for a limited edition collection called “Wanderlust” which was to include a sari, placing the Indian drape on every fashion high street in the world. The collection was expected to drop in April, a huge landmark for Indian fashion, hindered only by the pandemic.

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Whether it is bringing a new sense of modesty to Indian fashion, or taking necklines dangerously low, his clothes are what Indian women want to wear. Sabyasachi Mukherjee is the designer who set the Indian fashion agenda for at least a decade — and so the industry wondered what was next for him? We now know the answer to that question, with Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited’s acquisition of the Sabyasachi brand.

While other Indian designers spoke to the media about the need to be ”vocal for local”, Sabyasachi kept it low-key low. Although he was the first in fashion to realize the impact of the pandemic, making a generous donation to the Prime Minister Relief Fund as early as March 2020. Successful fashion designers are those who understand cultural shifts, grasp economic realities, and navigate the media landscape. Creative talent is not enough to become a fashion label that matters.

Sabyasachi Mukherjee began his label in 1999, one of the first Indian brands to retail at London’s iconic boutique, Browns, and also to show at New York and Milan Fashion Week, making him the darling of fashion editors across the world. But critical acclaim is not enough to build a fashion house — to really make a mark internationally, you must first be a success in your own home country.

Outfits from Sabyasachi. Flickr

There was a high spending audience back in India in need of special attention from an Indian designer — the bride. With the local wedding industry reported to be worth the US $50 billion, the “Big Fat Indian Wedding” was the reason international luxury brands were making a bee-line for India. Sabyasachi knew, while the young bride was a global modern thinking woman when it came to her wedding day, she dreamed of being an “Indian” bride. Sabyasachi has always stood for all things Indian — and his fashion shows were staged with as much pageantry as the biggest and fattest of Indian weddings.

A designer who knew how to stay exclusive yet harness the power of media, today his Instagram page is the most followed page in Indian fashion. Before social media it was television that put one in every Indian’s living room — he teamed up with a leading news channel for the hugely successful reality show ‘Band Baja Bride’ in 2012, while also working on select projects in Bollywood, whether it was dressing Vidya Balan for Cannes Film Festival or taking charge of Sridevi’s costumes in her comeback film, ‘English Vinglish’. Anyone who has interviewed him knows, he has the gift of the gab — soft-spoken, he is always concise but what he does say will be eloquent and impactful.

In the early 2000s, many Indian fashion designers were getting carried away with the glitz of the Indian fashion industry — which was shiny and new, but Sabyasachi kept his eye on the prize. There were rumors that L Capital Asia, the private equity fund belonging to LVMH (luxury giant Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) was interested in buying into the brand. While that did not materialize, collaborations with Christian Louboutin and Pottery Barn sealed Sabyasachi’s position as India’s most influential designer.

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It has been well known in the industry that Sabyasachi has always wanted a flagship store in New York. So far Anita Dongre, whose company received a sizable investment from a large US Private Equity Fund in 2013, is the only Indian designer with a retail presence in this city. She is also considered to have the largest turnover of any Indian fashion company with a range that goes from high street to high fashion.

This investment could not be better timed for Sabyasachi Mukherjee. It is a real game-changer for a label that has done as much groundwork as it could have as an independent. Corporate backing should see his brand diversify in terms of reach and product range. Perhaps we’ll see a beauty line too — and who knows what else. Now more than ever the industry will have its eyes on 46-year-old Kolkata-based Sabyasachi as the future of Indian fashion. (IANS)


Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Char Dham Yatra resumed on Friday with more than 16,000 devotees resuming the pilgrimage from the Rishikesh camp.

As weather cleared up in Uttarakhand, Char Dham Yatra restored on Friday with more than 16,000 devotees resuming the pilgrimage from the Rishikesh camp.

According to sources, road leading to Badrinath has been repaired and helicopter service has also resumed.

Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited Dungi village and met families of people who were missing after the landslip incident, and consoled them.

Dhami assured them of all possible assistance. Two people from the village are still reported to be missing.

Pilgrims were seen leaving from Rishikesh Char Dham Bus terminal and Haridwar bus station for the pilgrimage since morning.

As per the state government, various departments -- Devasthanam Board, police are assisting the pilgrims.

Police Chowki Yatra Bus Terminal, Rishikesh, was announcing passenger-information via loudspeaker.

Free RT-PCR tests of pilgrims were being conducted at Rishikesh bus terminal.

Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board's media in-charge Dr Harish Gaur said pilgrimage was on in Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, while for Kedarnath, helicopter service was also available.

Though the weather was cold in all dhams, thankfully there was no rain, he added.

Portals of the temple in Badrinath will close on November 20, Gangotri on November 5, while that of Kedarnath and Yamunotri on November 6.

Uttarakhand floods, triggered by a major downpour from October 17 to 19, have claimed 65 lives so far, 3,500 people have been rescued while 16,000 evacuated to safety.

Seventeen teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), seven teams of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), 15 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and 5,000 police personnel have been engaged in rescue and relief operations.

The state has already been provided with Rs 250 crore Disaster Fund which is being used for relief works.

To prevent spread of the diseases, the Central and state governments have decided to send medical teams to the affected areas.

Snapped power lines will be restored at the earliest, the government assured.

The state government said that as soon as alert for heavy rainfall was issued, the Incident Response System was activated at state and district levels, and pilgrims were halted at safer places. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Uttarakhand, India, Char Dham Yatra, PushkarDhami, Rishikesh.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Naga leaders are adamant in their main demands for a separate Constitution and flag.

The Centre has continued the Naga peace talks with the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) leaders, but negotiations face roadblocks as the Naga leaders are adamant in their main demands for a separate Constitution and flag.

The sources aware of these developments said that the Centre was hopeful that a successful solution of the six decades-long peace talks would arrive at a logical conclusion, but in the recent statements, Naga leaders have accused the Centre of offering post-solution options.

Sources quoting the stand of Naga leaders said that NSCN's stand was loud and clear that it would not follow the forbidden route to the Naga solution that was linked to foregoing the Naga national flag and Constitution, which is the face of the Naga political struggle and identity.

The Naga leaders have also said that the Centre has been using divisive policy and flattery in the name of finding the Naga political solution when the matters heated up.

When the Centre resumed the peace process in September this year and sent the former special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) A.K. Mishra as the Ministry of Home Affairs' emissary to the rebel outfit's chief negotiator and general secretary T. Muivah, he assured him (Muivah) that the peace talks would be initiated under the original framework signed in 2015, a source in the Naga rebel group said.

"Here we are talking about the Naga national flag and Yehzabo (Constitution), the two issues that are holding up the Naga solution under the ongoing Indo-Naga political talks in Delhi.

"The chequered history of the Indo-Naga political issue is clear enough before us, with accords and agreements that were never meant to be implemented in letter and spirit", an important office-bearer of the rebel outfit said while criticizing the governments' stand.

Accusing the Centre, he further accused the Centre of persuading the Naga people again to accept whatever is being offered to hurry up the Naga talks.

On the invitation of the Centre, the senior leaders of the NSCN-IM including T. Muivah arrived in the national capital on October 6 this year to hold another round of talks with the Centre.

Both, the Centre and the Naga leaders had indicated their keenness on resolving this long pending issue by the end of this year in an amicable manner.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma, who is also chairman of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had been actively involved in the resumption of the peace talks and taking it forward to a logical conclusion.

Soon after the transfer of Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi, who was appointed as the Centre's interlocutor for the Naga peace talks on August 29, 2014, to Tamil Nadu, the peace talks resumed on September 20 in Kohima when the Centre representative met the Naga leaders and invited them to visit Delhi for further rounds of peace talks.

The NSCN-IM and the other outfits entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 1997 and over 80 rounds of negotiations with the Centre have been held in the past in successive governments. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Nagaland, India, Constitution, Politics, Flag.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

India-England test series will now be played next year from July 1 at Edgbaston Stadium

The series decider for the Test series between England and India will now be played at Edgbaston from July 1 next year, said the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday. India is currently leading the series 2-1 before the fifth Test at Old Trafford was cancelled hours before the start due to concerns over COVID-19 outbreak in the tourists' camp.

"The fifth match of the LV= Insurance Test Series between England Men and India Men has been rescheduled and will now take place in July 2022. The match, which was due to take place last month at Emirates Old Trafford, was called off when India were unable to field a team due to fears of a further increase in the number of Covid-19 cases inside the camp," said an ECB statement.

"With India leading the series 2-1, the concluding fifth match will now take place from July 1, 2022, at Edgbaston, following an agreement between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)," added the statement.

ECB also said that due to the rescheduled Test, the white-ball series between England and India will now start six days later than originally planned. The T20I series will begin on July 7 at Ageas Bowl with Edgbaston and Trent Bridge hosting the second and third matches respectively on July 9 and 10. It will be followed by the ODI series starting on July 12 at The Oval followed by Lord's and Old Trafford hosting the second and third ODI on July 14 and 17 respectively.

"Ticket holders do not have to take any action as all tickets will remain valid for the equivalent rearranged matchday at their host venue. Host venues will communicate the new fixture details to ticket purchasers and the options available to them, including the timeframe for requesting a refund if they are not able to attend the new match day," further said the statement.

"We are very pleased that we have reached an agreement with BCCI to creating a fitting end to what has been a brilliant series so far. I'm very grateful to all the venues involved for the cooperation they've shown in allowing us to reschedule this match. I'd also like to thank Cricket South Africa for their support and understanding to allow these changes to be possible," said Tom Harrison, the CEO of the ECB.

"We would like to apologise again to fans for the disruption and disappointment of September events. We know it was a day that so many had planned long in advance. We recognise that accommodating this extra match means a tighter schedule for the white ball series. We will continue to manage our players' welfare and workloads through next year while we also continue to seek the optimum schedule for fans, players and our partners across the game."

"I am delighted that the England-India Test series will now have its rightful conclusion. The four Test matches were riveting, and we needed a fitting finale. The BCCI recognizes and respects the traditional form of the game and is also mindful of its role and obligations towards fellow Board Members. In the last two months, both BCCI and the ECB have been engaged in discussions and our efforts were aimed at finding a suitable window. I thank the ECB for their understanding and patience in finding an amicable solution," said BCCI Secretary Jay Shah. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: India, Britain, BCCI, Test Match, Cricket.