HYDERABAD: It all started when stylist Shravya Varma shared a screenshot of a response mail she recieved when she asked a national designer label to source clothes for her celeb client. The response was a curt, “We don’t source to Tamil Telegu actors...” Although Shravya claims this isn’t a first, it triggered her to publish this to the world to see how blatant the discrimination is. “As a professional I understand the right to reject sourcing to certain people. I understand brand imaging etc. But my problem was with the irrational reasoning for it. How unprofessional it is to say that I won’t source to actors of a certain region. They didn’t even bother to mask their bias,” says an outraged Shravya.
Shravya’s issue was not with the specific brand alone, but with the casual attitude that the fashion industry has towards this regionalism. “The tone of the rejection and the audacity of it all struck me. This is normal in this industry. It is normal to say that a certain designer doesn’t source to Southern actors or actresses. The prejudice is not given a second glance even among our circles. But only when we question that normalcy is when we will see the unfairness of it all,” she says.
Rationalising her argument Shravya goes on with an example, “Most designer labels come up with the lame excuse that they can’t ship to the South. If I were to tell them that a Bollywood A-lister was in Hyderabad and needed a piece, would they not make it happen?” Shravya notes that this is not an issue faced by the entire industry. She says, “Designers like Sabyasachi, a Shantanu & Nikhil or even our very own Shriya Som, never object to sourcing based on regionalities, it’s mostly the mid-range designers who have the attitude to discriminate. And it might be a small issue that affects a small bracket of stylists here down south but it is something worth starting a conversation about. The casual unprofessionalism of it all must not be tolerated.”
“Stylists usually pitch for sourcing only when they think that the designer also will benefit from the market that the celeb can pull. Some designers despite refusing to source, set up stores and sell in lakhs to us South Indians. To those who think “South Indians don’t fit our brand’s personality” my question is, why are you then selling to them and taking their money,” she rages on.
Shravya also realises that this might not reach those who need to have a change in attitude. “When I responded to the brand that denied me sourcing about how their mail has gotten fire, they very casually repeated themselves that they wouldn’t source to Southerners. Such is the nonchalance. My outrage is against the normalcy of this discrimination. Unless a conversation or a debate is started, no one will question this.”
— Srividya Palaparthi