The sari influencers are taking over Instagram
In love with the drape of you
Every morning, Kalyani Shahi and husband Vinayak Mohan perform an intimate piece of theatre for an audience of 35,000. Before she leaves their Bengaluru apartment for her day job crunching numbers at Accenture, Shahi styles herself in a freshly unwrapped, handwoven sari and poses for Mohan in their plant-filled verandah.
This isn’t some elaborate mating ritual, though Mohan’s daily dedication to capturing these moments would put any Instagram husband to shame. This is the fuel that feeds their three-year-old side business, Chakori Ehtnic, which works with rural weavers across Banaras, West Bengal and Bihar. You see, Shahi is one of instagram’s most popular sari influencers.
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We are launching our handmade and hand embroidered kota Doria Sarees on website by tonight . These are in the range of INR 3200. . Please visit our website www.chakoriethnic.com . #chakoriethnic #chakoriethnicsaris #kotadoria #sarees #saries #style #styling #shop #fashionblogger #indianfashionblogger #slowfashion #ootd #sustainablefashion #banglore
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2019 is seeing the acme of a revolution that’s been slowly brewing on Instagram. From making a powerful statement with their styling of the sari to turning a passion for the national garment into successful e-commerce ventures, women like Shahi are lending a truly modern touch to a piece of history. The tags #100sareepact (a commitment to wear the sari a 100 times in a year and share your stories) has garnered over 176K posts on Instagram. #sarisakhee and #sixyardsof, which encapsulate similar sentiments, allow every woman with sari superpower to connect.
It’s good news for a professional stylist like me, whose own love affair with the drape began as late as last year. I received an invite to designer Sanjay Garg’s fashion soiree at his Raw Mango store in Colaba. An event hosted by one of the foremost champions of the sari seemed an apt occasion to make my debut. Raiding my grandmother’s house where each sari comes with one, sometimes two tales, we settled on a maroon chanderi silk with zari borders made from real gold. An old black crop top doubled up as a blouse, with dadi patiently teaching me how to drape over it. Just as the pallu made its final swing over my shoulder, I realised what the hype was about. There’s magic in a garment that can be styled in a thousand different ways, and has been for over thousands of years.
While I have an abundance of sari influencers to pick from for inspiration, my new favourite is marketing executive Ankita Katuri’s handle @kitakaturi. In a welcome departure from overly produced ‘influencer shoots’, over 70K followers tune in to see the Hyderabad native’s relatable self-photographed close-up shots revealing beautiful textiles and jewellery in unusual pairings. A high neck Victorian-style lace top finds itself matched with a nude linen sari (she leans towards lighter fabrics like cotton and organza), while other posts show off her mum’s heavier heritage pieces. “My initial interest in the sari came from Instagram. A few years ago Soup magazine had done a piece on how it is so wearable that it shouldn’t just be relegated to special occasions. So I started posting these images as a mood board for myself that I would look at several years from now”, she says. “We tend to forget how sexy a sari can be. And I am not talking about the red chiffon, bikini top version. Even a simple mul one can look ethereal”. Katuri’s brand tagging makes for a treasure trove of shopping recommendations as it brings to fore smaller retailers and non-mainstream designers.
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The onset of monsoon showers, lush greens, the smell of petrichor ♥️ . Featured on Kani is a kerala handloom saree highlighted by hand block prints. Saree comes with traditionally styled chequered cotton blouse fabric. . . . . . . . . . . . #ootd #instagood #india #saree #style #bangalore #photoshoot #sareelove #picoftheday #streetstyle #ahmedabad #kerala #indianwedding #indianfashion #indianclothing #keyahdiaries
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Like @keyah_label, where 54-year old Peena Roy shows off hand-painted organza silk saris that call for the attention of 57.3K followers. “I always insist on working with photographers who keep things as natural as possible,” Roy says. “As we are retailing online we have to make sure that we show real colours to our buyers so they know what they see is what they get,” she says about her handcrafted pieces which rack up hundreds of restock requests.
Authenticity and simplicity are the buzzwords for sari influencers. “I do my own hair and make-up. I just use a BB cream and kajal,” Shahi confesses. “If I were to hire a model and a photographer, it would increase my cost. I want my product to be relatable and accessible to everyone.”
While Bengaluru merchandiser-turned-sari influencer Neha Sharma champions ethically produced brands like Maku Textile, WomenWeave and Coloroso to her audience of 80K followers, 25-year old artist Gayathri Mohan is lobbying for experimental styling.
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The Inkblot X @celia_palathinkal . . . . . . . . . Creative direction and styling by : @theinkblot_g3 Shot by : @contr_adi_ction Jewellery by : @celia_palathinkal . . . . . . . . . #theinkblotg3 #jewelry #accessories #ootd #gold #sheer #ivory #drape #styling #stylist #indianstyle #creativedirection #contradiction #celiapalathinkal #jewelrydesigner
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I came across her profile on @keyah_label’s page sporting those otherworldly organza saris and couldn’t stop scrolling. “It’s not traditional anymore and that’s what I love about it. Regardless of occasion, size, nationality or even gender, anyone can throw one on, whenever they feel like it,” says the Kochi resident. “When my Instagram followers had just started growing, I purchased a sari online from this brand called Chidiyaa and wore it with a sports bra and a leather jacket.” Her tip? “Wear it short. It looks much cooler and is very convenient.”