What sets big international brands apart from local, small scale cloth merchants? Apparently their sheer unabashed ego which lets them lift archaic styles and patterns from around the world and claim it as their own after giving it the ever so slightest of twists. Indian fashion becoming world renowned and redesigned is not a new thing. The traditional saree has long caught on as a fashion symbol that graces various red carpets in Europe or America. The gents’ ‘mundu’ is another popular piece of clothing that has made waves. Bollywood’s ‘lungi dance’ song featuring icons SRK and Deepika Padukone gave the mundu a further boost.
However, the saree and mundu are very much items associated with ethnic Indian wear wherever it is sold and in that sense, no appropriation of these have taken place. Global fashion giant Zara, though, has drawn the ire of Indian netizens for taking something as classically Indian ethnic as a ‘lungi’ and laying claim to it by turning this gents garment into a women’s dress.
This ‘flowing skirt with draped detail in front’ even uses designs which are very similar to those seen on the lungi’s your father, brother or husband wears daily at home. And what of the cost? For the lungi you get for ₹300 at your local store, the lungi dress of similar design will set you back a whooping ₹6500! The dress design in front looks similar to a lungi which has been tucked into the fold. The polyester and viscose based dress should only be dry cleaned and has a sleet in the middle which is perhaps its only unique feature.
Trolls have had a field day ever since pictures of the dress came out. Some sarcastically praise Zara’s creativity in selling a piece of clothing for over 20 times the price of the humble lungi it so clearly draws inspiration from. Others are irate that Zara completely refused to acknowledge the connection to a lungi anywhere while marketing the product and say this should be called a lungi dress instead of the ridiculous flowing dress product detail the company went with. When a piece of clothing that is part of a population’s culture is so brazenly stolen, the least Zara could’ve done is give due credit, claim social media hawks.
The best two tweets against this monstrosity were particularly praise worthy. One user said that Zara calling this a flowing dress is equal to calling a Masala Dosa a “pan grilled rice pancake stuffed with spiced potatoes.” The other perhaps is also a wake up call for Indian businesses and all those women thinking of buying this lungi dress. Instead of spending north of ₹6k on it, just take your father’s lungis and head to the local tailor. Your flowing dress with frontal design will be ready from scratch in perhaps a mere ₹600!
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