It is in India that one can confirm how what you wear is by far the best communication tool you have compared to others. Mohandas K. Gandhi’s adoption of the dhoti, Jawaharlal Nehru’s jacket, and Indira and Sonia Gandhi’s saris, made from traditional Indian khadi.
And bring it forward let’s talk about Mr. Modi who’s cat walked his way as a political rockstar with his fashion sense. Literally and strategically.
Since NaMo was elected to office in 2014, the Indian Prime Minister’s sharp dressing and flamboyant wardrobe have made headlines both in India and abroad.
NaMo has yielded success in associating his personal dressing style along with his political platform, to the benefit of both. The traditional garb of Modi itself does not represent any fashion innovation; rather it symbolizes a set of values. And therein lies its fascinating attraction to masses no matter which part of the world he is traverses.
The ‘Modi Kurta’
And he makes no bones about his liking for dressing up.
“Yes I like to dress up well and stay clean. God has gifted me the sense of mixing and matching colours. So I manage everything on my own. Since I’m God gifted I fit well in everything. I have no fashion designer but I’m happy to hear that I dress well,” Mr Modi told Lance Price, author of The Modi Effect.
His traditional attire being seen so often in the media that it is now officially named after him (the Modi Kurta, a somewhat pimped up version of the classic Indian tunic shirt with half-length sleeves).
The tailor who works with him to create his wardrobe, Bipin Chauhan of the clothing chain Jade Blue, has trademarked the style and is taking it to Britain, the United States and Southeast Asia.
His preferred fabric is Khadi and linen variants, and though he was mostly seen in white and saffron coloured kurtas for the longest time, he has now started experimenting with more lively yet muted colours.
In fact, on the day when he was appointed as BJP’s PM candidate, he wore a pistachio green coloured kurta which became significant to the point of being called as the ‘Modi Kurta.’ The Modi Style was thus born.
It has its own Twitter hashtag (#ModiKurta), and there is an e-commerce site devoted to getting the Modi look (modimania.com) — begun because, the mission statement says, Mr. Modi “has become a brand not only in India but across the world.”
When 40 Presidents became Modi’s
Just last year in October the PM, Narendra Modi (centre) with the African leaders during a dinner hosted on the sidelines of the 3rd India Africa Forum Summit, in New Delhi.
Over 40 African heads of state donned traditional Indian attire at a dinner as part of the 3rd India-Africa Summit in New Delhi. The African leaders donned in raw silk kurtas, “Modi jackets” and safas (Indian headgear), a look that is common by Modi.
The only exceptions to the dress code were the presidents of South Africa and Zimbabwe, Jacob Zuma Robert Mugabe. No surprise here….
A sleeveless waistcoat, the “Modi jacket” is a more colourful variant of the iconic “Nehru jacket” worn by India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. For the India-Africa summit, the Indian government had specially commissioned the Indian fashion label Biba to design bespoke jackets and kurtas in various colours for each leader.
But this isn’t just about his so-called “swag” and the cult of Modi Cool – Mr Modi is engaged in a very serious kind of image-making that is about his global image, selling India to investors, and his attempt to convert the youth of India to the ruling BJP.
“The kind of sartorial flair that Mr Modi demonstrates internationally is unprecedented for an Indian leader,” says Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, author of Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times.
Here’s some of NaMo’s fashionable moments to inspire your wardrobe!