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Sabyasachi gives H&M an India touch with saris, kurtas

The Swedish fashion brand's Maria Gemzell talks about why it chose the bridal couturier for collaboration and the urgent need to become climate positive

From the Sabyasachi x H&M collaboration themed 'Wanderlust' (Courtesy H&M)

After over a year of delay owing to the pandemic, the Sabyasachi x H&M collection will finally be out on 12 August.

Themed Wanderlust (priced between 799 and 9,999), the collection presents rich textiles in modern as well as classic Indian silhouettes that resonate with the modern global nomad mindset.

“Due to the complexities of the covid-19 situation, we had to put the launch on hold but I’m eagerly looking forward to bringing this ‘ready-to-wear’ collection that will bring relaxed sophistication to everyday life in an understated yet glamorous style,” says Sabyasachi.

H&M has been offering fashion fans a constant stream of designer collaborations since 2004. By launching this collection, the Indian bridal couturier joins names like Karl Lagerfeld, Moschino, Giambattista Valli and Madonna.

Also read: What do Gen Y shoppers want? A fashionable freedom of choice

Talking about collaborations, Maria Gemzell, head of new development at H&M, says: "We look at renowned designers for our collaborations in order to bring habitually inaccessible, made-to-measure, rare and costly creations to the masses."

In an interview, Gemzell talks more about why the brand chose Sabyasachi for collaboration and the urgent need to become circular and climate positive. Edited excerpts:

From the Sabyasachi x H&M collaboration themed 'Wanderlust'
From the Sabyasachi x H&M collaboration themed 'Wanderlust' (Courtesy H&M)

Why the decision to collaborate with Sabyasachi?

We chose Sabyasachi because he is the undisputed master of Indian couture, with an amazing ability to dictate new silhouettes. We were drawn to how he speaks to the modern woman and man, as much as the craftsmanship and beauty of his designs, which you will be able to see throughout the collection. But what really makes this particular collaboration unique is the personal signatures included in the collection, such as the unmissable Bengal Tiger, Sabyasachi’s signature logo, as well as the signature textiles and prints from the Sabyasachi Art Foundation.

While the collection is quintessentially Sabyasachi—from prints and embroideries to craftsmanship—he was extremely generous making the process of collaboration a wonderful experience. From being invited into his creative process where we created this collection together to breaking bread together!

Could you tell me a little bit about the collection.

The Wanderlust collection takes cues from India’s rich textile, craft and history, and mixes modern and traditional silhouettes with a nod towards athleisure. The way in which this collection took shape, it really is for the global nomad who wants to explore Indian textile and print traditions as well as the meticulously crafted, embroidered and multicultural silhouettes that will make heads turn anywhere in the world.

Over the past few years, H&M has become more active when it comes to designer collaborations. Is this a formula for success?

Savvy shoppers from across the world are able to pick up designer creations at affordable prices every season from H&M. These limited-edition collaborative collections bring out the legendary style, expertise and creativity of a marquee designer within much closer reach of many.

With conversations around sustainability becoming louder, H&M has been actively promoting eco-conscious wear. What’s been the feedback like?

We’re committed to leading the change to a better fashion future. This starts with improving sustainability performance in our own value chain and demonstrating the resilience of sustainable business. We amplify our positive impact by working with others, showing the potential for innovation and dialogue to speed transformation. Leading the change is a mindset. It influences everything we do and contributes to achieving our ambition to become fully circular and climate positive.

There's been a recent increase in focus on casual wear and silhouettes in H&M designs. Is this a pandemic impact?

For us, it is about offering a full range at all times: from basic fashion to the latest trends, so that you can dress your personality and look and feel good, even if you are just staying in. The way in which this collection has taken shape, it really is for the global nomad. This is where casual silhouettes are moving towards a global handwriting that celebrates indigenous craft forms.

While collection was to be launched earlier, due to the pandemic this had to be postponed. We are excited to finally share it with our customers from across the world, after more than a year of uncertainty. I think this is what we all need: a dream of better times ahead.

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