This election, it seems that designer cotton has beaten good old khadi. Unlike previous assembly elections, designers are dressing up politicians this year and they could not have been any busier. And khadi outlets that had stocked up have only seen discouraging sales.
“The last few months have been hectic as we have been busy delivering orders placed by politicians. Their demands are simple: they want comfortable yet chic cotton wear for campaigning. This election season, we have dressed about 20 politicians, of which some are my regular clients,” says fashion designer Asma Husain but refuses to reveal the names of her clients.
Nishant Singh shares similar facts. “I cater to about 20-25 politicians and partymen. This is the first time I am creating something for politicians. These people seem to be very conscious about what they wear and how they look. They spend a lot of time with me at the boutique, discussing minute details. They want perfection in their wardrobe and will not settle for anything less.”
At the Gandhi Ashram in Hazratganj, it’s been slim pickings. Raja Ram, a salesman, says: “We had stocked up before the elections but sales have been disappointing. During the 2002 assembly elections, we had done roaring business. This year, the sales have been nominal. We used to make sales of about Rs 40,000 everyday, but not this time.”
At the Khadi Village and Industries Board outlet too, sales have been moderate at best. Deputy CEO A.K. Dwivedi says: “People are buying higher range clothes and sales have been reasonable at that level. In the past one and a half months, we have made sales of Rs 2 lakh, which is just about reasonable."
So what are the designers decking up their political clients in? Asma Husain says, “For women, I have used a lot of quality mulmul, cotton and voile in whites and pastels. We have done chikankari, embroidery, hand painting, mukaish and dyeing. The cost per suit or sari falls anywhere between Rs 1,500 and Rs 4,000 and most of the politicians have bought 15 to 20 sets each.”
For men, it’s mostly kurta-pyjamas in cotton and khadi that cost between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,500.
The thumb rule for all designers is quality and a certain style statement.