Fashion brand Raw Mango faces backlash for exoticising Kashmir in its latest collection
The contemporary Indian fashion brand, Raw Mango’s latest collection ‘Zooni’ inspired by Kashmir, faced backlash for exoticising the region at a time when the region is under heavy security post the abrogation of Article 370. The high-end brand specializes in luxurious fabrics and Indian textiles. On Wednesday evening, the brand posted several photographs of their latest collection ‘Zooni’ on their Instagram handle. The photos featured a young bride wearing a red and gold traditional Kashmiri bridal outfit along with a kalpush, the traditional hat worn by brides in Kashmir. Another photograph featured a woman dressed in a pheran, which is the traditional warm woollen kurta worn in Kashmir and another had a young woman sitting on a shikara, a traditional Kashmiri boat, with the scenic views of Kashmir in the background.
The brand elaborated on what inspired their collection, and wrote, “Kashmir’s tree of life remains resplendent… an abundance of history, beauty and warmth…” However, on account of the security tensions in Kashmir, the posts began to draw a lot of flak from the online community on Instagram and Twitter. Following the backlash the fashion brand removed the images from social media.
A user on Twitter wrote, “Kashmir under lockdown for 60 days and Indian fashion brand Raw Mango has gone ahead and released a collection featuring Kashmiri textile traditions and aesthetics. Their price range is in the high 5 figures. Am I missing something here?”
“The campaign imagery for Zooni was released on the evening of October 2, 2019, on Instagram, and recalled that evening based on requesting the public sentiment on timing,” read the statement posted by Raw Mango on Instagram.
The statement also explained that the planning for ‘Zooni’ began long before the abrogation of Article 370. The entire statement read, “At Raw Mango our process of design requires a two year lead time, from research to stores. In November 2017, our design team began research and textile development for ‘Zooni’, a collection drawing from Kashmir. Each textile and silhouette is created through an exploration of this country - though traditions, rituals and craftsmanship across different regions. For instance our 2018 collection ‘Heer’, alluded to the culture of pre-partition Punjab. In May 2019, we began to explore campaign directions for Zooni, and a recce was done on May 2019 in Srinagar. The shoot was executed over 5 days from June 27 - July 2, 2019. A release was planned for August 8th, 2019 and given the political and social climate surrounding the region, the launch was postponed. The decision to withhold the images has since been under considerable discussion and concern. The decision to release the images shot by Avani Rai was the decision of the brand. It was not a decision of Avani’s, who requested to delay the release further. The campaign imagery for Zooni was released on the evening of Oct 2, 2019 on Instagram, and recalled that evening based on requesting the public sentiment on timing, as well as a request from Avani Rai.”
(With inputs from ANI. )