Let me tell Patrick Thomas (Chief Executive of Hermes International) the art of sari shopping in India, rather Chennai. In the process let me also elucidate the exquisite weave and the brilliant glow of a Kancheevaram silk. As a girl blossoms into a woman, her wardrobe starts piling up with these ethereal silks.
At first you are blissfully unaware and do not get tangled in the convulsed yet magical world of colors, borders, designs and motifs. But with the years, you develop a penchant and are in perennial search for that nonexistent hue missing in your wardrobe. You are stubborn about the mango designs on your pallu.
Take time to visit T. Nagar, the temple of silk saris in Chennai. It fairs well in comparison to the temple city Kancheevaram. The women in Chennai know the geography of T Nagar like the back of their hand. Pick a store and they would list out the price range, quality and customer service. If you are searching for a purple sari, you will get the purple sari. Not pink, not magenta, and not violet but purple.
The shops in T Nagar are not luxury fashion houses but they know their customers fairly well. The quest for the perfect silk can leave the male members annoyed and tired. So it comes as no surprise that Nalli and Kumaran (popular silk shops) have waiting areas specially designed for the male members to relax and recoup. They are intentionally equipped with The Hindu and various political magazines. The men are summoned at the time of checkout; in fact only their wallets are summoned. The lady of the house is tirelessly rummaging through the heap to find that perfect shade with that lustrous border. Even if she quickly ducks to the neighboring shop who is to know.
South Indians have specifics when related to silks. The sari defines their status and the weave, their taste. No self respecting south Indian who is born to my mother would wear a sari that has a border the length of a wrist band. It better be as wide as the Panama Canal! We do not walk into every store but restrict ourselves to a select few, simply because they are the ones that are entitled to the lotus feet of my mother.
When a purchase is finally made, the entire extended family is filled in on the bargain. There are lengthy discussions involving the price and the weave. They decide whether the store is worthy of a second visit. For Mr. Hermes, a sari is not just a sari, its folds carry memories, the weaving carries tales and wearing them brings a satisfaction and pride that no designer fashion can match. So you better stick to the scarves.
Photo credit: Hermes
Hermes Silk And The South Indian
January 28, 2012
Hermes introduces a silk sari line in India. Clearly, they haven't met their Indian counterpart - the traditional Kancheevaram.
Hermes, the scarf people, decided to pay a tribute to India and their Indian customers by introducing a silk sari that costs about $6,100 to $8,200. Forget the price tag; the luxury fashion house is entering a precarious territory. Clearly, Hermes has little awareness of the Indian sari sentiment and has not met my mother. Although the sari is not intended for people of refined taste like my mother or her South Indian counterparts, no Indian in their right mind would buy this sari because we need our money’s worth.