Sabyasachi Mukherjee graduates from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Kolkata with top honours. He wins all four major awards. He rejects job offers from the then top designers in India. Blasphemous at the time for a middle class Indian boy. His ambition clear, to create India's biggest luxury house and do it his way. Six months later, he borrows 20,000 INR from his family and starts his eponymous label with a workforce of three.
A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
Sabyasachi wins the Femina British Council Most Outstanding Young Designer Award. He wins an internship with print designer Georgina von Etzdorf and a research assignment at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. His first trip outside India, his first passport stamp and his first Pride march. He returns armed with global exposure, volumes of research and the shocking realisation of the West’s lack of awareness of India’s massive history of luxury. He increases his workforce and charts the course for his brand.
THE DEBUT COLLECTION
Sabyasachi debuts at India’s Lakmé Fashion Week with ‘Kashgaar Bazaar’. He presents his now signature multi-cultural bohemian gaze bringing together art, craft, culture, intellect and quality. Becoming one of the first Indian designers to create contemporary silhouettes with Indian heritage crafts. Showcasing values, crafts and a distinct point of view that are now hallmarks of the brand. He steals headlines, a WWD special feature and rave reviews. Sabyasachi is unanimously titled ‘the Future of Indian Fashion’ by the media.
THE GRAND WINNER
Sabyasachi is named The Grand Winner Award at the Mercedes Benz New Asia Fashion Week in Singapore. His unique signature of layering heritage Indian craft with a multi-cultural bohemian gaze wins him an internship with Jean Paul Gaultier and Azzedine Alaïa in Paris. He attends Gaultier’s Haute Couture show in Paris. The middle class Calcuttan starts planning his own international fashion week debut.
A WINDOW IN BROWNS
Sabyasachi becomes one of the first Indian brands to not just retail but win a window at Browns in London. “No one really understood what I was doing, and I was a bit lost, till Albert found me. He was the fairy godfather that I desperately needed. From the suburbs of Calcutta to a window in Browns—it was quite the leap.” He debuts at Milan Fashion Week with a genre-defying collection ‘The Frog Princess’ blurring the line between ready-to-wear and couture. He's voted by Asia Inc in Singapore as one of the ten most influential Indians in Asia. The next year, he presents at the Oxford University Charity Gala Show in London, wins a spot on British Vogue’s Hot List and starts retailing at Selfridges.
Sabyasachi makes his Bollywood debut and wins the National Award for Best Costume Design. Not one to follow rules or trend, Sabyasachi rejects the more glamourous song and dance blockbusters of the time and instead chooses the now modern classic, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black. Sabyasachi renowned as a colourist, takes on a Henri Cartier-Bresson inspired monochrome palette. A period drama inspired by Helen Keller’s autobiography, starring two of the country's biggest superstars Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukerji. The critically acclaimed masterpiece was also one of the biggest commercial successes of its time. He says, “People think I’m a bridalwear designer and I have to remind them that’s not how I started out. You don’t need to scroll through issues of Vogue, just watch Black.”
NEW YORK FASHION WEEK
Sabyasachi makes his debut at New York Fashion Week with ‘Snail’—a homage to slow luxury. Before sustainability and conscious consumerism became buzzwords and the climate crisis a hashtag, Sabyasachi raised the red flag on mindless over consumption. The collection carries on his narrative of heritage artisanal crafts in modern silhouettes and construction. It further amplifies the pillars of the brand—fine quality, master craftsmanship and a commitment to creating modern heirlooms. Buy less but buy better. Where longevity is seasonless and is passed from one generation to the next.
New York was a lesson for Sabyasachi. He learnt quickly that he was too ambitious with too little power. “Success in fashion is all about timing. It is not just about your clothes or creativity. It is so much more—geopolitics, economics, society. It's hard to overcome failure but I’m no quitter. On that fateful Air India flight from JFK, I told myself, I will come back when the time is right.”
THE FIRST BRIDAL COLLECTION
Sabyasachi launches his first Bridal collection ‘Chand Bibi’ at India’s Lakmé Fashion Week. Becoming the turning point that marks his ascent into reshaping the Indian bridal industry. After spending years on the global stage, Sabyasachi decides that before he takes the best of India to the world, he wants to bring the best of India back to India. The mission—bring undiluted couture and craft back to the great Indian wedding. He introduces a bridal aesthetic rooted in tradition and heritage but infused with his bohemian contemporarism. Over the years his creations spawn a gargantuan copy market, make him a TV sensation, the go to bridal designer for the country’s leading tycoons and celebrities, makes the ‘Sabya Bride’ a cultural phenomenon and makes him India's leading design house.
BUILDING THE ECO-SYSTEM
Sabyasachi empowers and enables the finest of Indian crafts by working with craftspeople and craft clusters on models of economic sustainability. He travels across the country meeting and establishing projects with weavers, block printers, embroiderers, dyers, craftspeople, goldsmiths, mill workers, stone masons, furniture artisans working with jewellery, clothing, leather and interiors.
From handwoven fabrics such as fine khadis, tussars, matka silks, native silks, and so on. To handwoven crafts—Benarasi and Tissue from Varanasi in UP, Kantha from Barasat in Bengal, Kalamkari from Machilipatnam in AP, Gaji from Vatva in Gujarat, Badla and Chikankari from Lucknow in UP, Chanderi from Chanderi in MP, Pashmina from Ganderbal in Kashmir, Patola from Patan and Rajkot in Gujarat, and Kanjivaram from Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. Today, Sabyasachi employs 1,000 craftspeople and works on regular commissions with over 3,000 craftspeople and master weavers from across the country.
Sabyasachi believes that the future of artisanal crafts and handwoven textiles is in luxury, and that is India’s biggest strength and contribution to both fashion and jewellery. “The French have claimed couture. India’s reservoir of craft runs deep, both in terms of legacy and skill. Yet we have never had the confidence to assert this on the global stage. I intend to change that.”
Sabyasachi launches his first store in Calcutta. After retailing for a decade from India and the world’s leading department stores and multi-designer boutiques, Sabyasachi finally unleashes his distinct retail experience. He is immediately tagged the ‘visionary extraordinaire’ of modern retail. Over the years he launches stores in major cities across India. His Delhi flagship is the only Indian store in GQ’s Top 100 Stores In The World. He goes on to win awards, accolades and headlines. And creates a media storm with the opening of his New York store in 2022, followed by the largest flagship yet at 25,862 sq ft. when he takes over a neo-classical landmark in Mumbai’s heritage district in 2023. Sabyasachi is not in the business of making stores, he builds living museums. Immersive spaces where time stands still as his signature cultural savoir faire takes over.
BOLLYWOOD & THE ART OF COMMERCE
Sabyasachi plays costume designer for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish starring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. He launches his first heritage jewellery collaboration with Gaja in the film Guzaarish. It begins his now long-standing relationship with Bengal’s jewellery artisans. It also makes him one of India’s first designers to go beyond dressing celebrities and instead forging a true partnership through immersive storytelling. Pioneering Bollywood as a platform for luxury and creating visibility for the brand and image-building for the celebrity. Making it a win for both.
OPRAH AND A TV SHOW
Sabyasachi makes his television debut with Band Baajaa Bride on NDTV Good Times that makes him a household name in a single season. The now cult show went on to run for 10 seasons, winning multiple awards over the years. Dresses Oprah Winfrey for the Jaipur Literary Festival and her first magazine cover in India. He carries on making India felt on the global stage. He showcases at Sotheby’s, becoming the only designer from India to be part of an ‘Inspired by India’ selling exhibition of contemporary design. And launches The Cinema Suite at 51 Buckingham Gate by Sabyasachi at the Taj Suites and Residences in London.
RED CARPET DRAMA
Sabyasachi dresses jury member Vidya Balan for her Cannes debut, in a range of handwoven saris and kurtas—showcasing Indian heritage crafts and textiles. He is panned across Social media for dressing an Indian celebrity in Indian clothing on an international red carpet. The media narrative has since embraced and even celebrates Indian clothing on international red carpets. In 2022, he dresses actor and jury member Deepika Padukone in a sari, and she makes it to international and Indian best dressed lists. He continues championing the sari ensuring it makes its first MET Gala red carpet appearance when he dresses philanthropist Natasha Poonawalla. This soon escalates into a larger dialogue about the sari across the globe.
THE SABYASACHI ART FOUNDATION
Launches The Sabyasachi Art Foundation, an economically sustainable initiative that mentors and employs under privileged artists from Bengal. The foundation is a safe space for artists, where the artists are given all the tools required for them to hone and shape their practice—a studio, a well-paying income and a mentorship programme led by Sabyasachi. The economically sustainable foundation works on commissions from Sabyasachi. Over the years the foundation has created original art works that have been translated into prints for collaborations with brands that range from H&M and Christian Louboutin to Pottery Barn and Starbucks. The artists make paintings inspired by Qajar portraits and Company paintings for all Sabyasachi stores. And create original artworks depicting the flora and fauna of the Sundarbans, that have been rendered into now signature prints for the brand.
Sabyasachi’s first global collaboration is announced with Christian Louboutin, with a collection of limited edition shoes and handbags, showcasing Sabyasachi’s hallmark embroidery and craft, with Louboutin’s iconic red sole. Creating a long-standing association between the two brands.
He then collaborates with Elephant Family for their Travels to My Elephant initiative supported by their majesties, King Charles III and Queen Camilla. He launches Sabyasachi for Nilaya collection in collaboration with Asian Paints. Is commissioned by the Victoria and Albert Museum to create an Indian bridal couture ensemble made with heritage crafts and textiles, for their seminal India exhibit titled ‘The Fabric of India’. And come 2016, he becomes the first Indian designer to collaborate with Pottery Barn with a festive capsule collection that sells out within a week. In time, Sabyasachi goes on to become the first Indian designer to collaborate with leading international brands on record-breaking sold-out collections including H&M, Starbucks, Forever Mark, L’Oréal, Thomas Goode and Morgenthal Frederics among others.
Sabyasachi collaborations are strategically pinned to either spotlight the best of Indian craft and craftsmanship, amplify ‘designed in India’ to the world or support a worthy cause. The mission is clear—collaborate to bring the best of the world to India and the best of India to the world.
Sabyasachi signs out of Fashion Weeks in India and launches his first collection on Instagram, a practice that the brand continues to follow. “Why bother with front row politics, when the world can be your front row,” says Sabyasachi. A move that goes on to redefine the relationship between designer, brand, media and consumer. D2C from the perspective of slow luxury. It goes on to change the marketing narrative of fashion and luxury brands in and from India, with more and more designers creating their own platforms. Sabyasachi becomes known as a marketing maverick with pioneering moves that change the shape of the fashion eco-system dynamic in India. From announcing the ground-breaking H&M collaboration across 8 of India’s leading fashion magazine covers to becoming the first Guest Editor of the September Issue of Vogue India.
Sabyasachi Jewellery is launched. A pioneer in the Indian jewellery industry with many firsts—Sabyasachi introduces a new language of High Jewellery intermeshing Indian heritage crafts with North Calcutta and Byzantine influences. He launches India’s first branded Mangalsutra, redesigning the traditional Indian wedding necklace into a more contemporary form. A move that has caught on with both local and international players making their way into India. He designs a limited edition capsule collection with Forever Mark. He showcases and retails his jewellery at Bergdorf Goodman and soon opens stores in Hyderabad and Dubai, creating dedicated space at his New York flagship, and the largest jewellery collection presented across a sprawling floor in the Mumbai store.
From the reverse migration of Bengal’s jewellery master craftspeople back to the region to launching a headlining High Jewellery collection at London’s iconic Lancaster House—Sabyasachi is committed to preserving and resurrecting the finest of India’s jewellery crafts and craftsmanship.
In a country where jewellery was sold as a commodity, he paved a new way of consumption through design and branding. A move he believes is going to be the future of jewellery business in the country.
THREE WEDDINGS AND A LIPSTICK
Following the media frenzy around dressing actor Anushka Sharma and cricketer Virat Kohli for their wedding in Tuscany in the previous year—Sabyasachi goes on to dress actors Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh for their wedding in Lake Como. And actor Priyanka Chopra and musician Nick Jonas for their Indian wedding in Rajasthan. And Isha Ambani for her wedding reception in Mumbai. Sabyasachi’s prowess as a bridal designer is further cemented. Over the years, apart from creating a storm in the wedding industry, Sabyasachi’s campaigns became definitive of the authentic Indian beauty story—which is as diverse as it is beautiful and authentic. Sabyasachi becomes the first Indian brand to collaborate with the global beauty giant L'Oréal Paris to launch a limited edition beauty collection. His influence on the rise, Sabyasachi is invited to speak at the 15th anniversary of the India Conference 2018 hosted by Harvard University. And returns to launch Sabyasachi Accessories. And the first iteration of the now iconic Bengal Tiger Minaudière.
20 YEARS OF SABYASACHI
Sabyasachi celebrates the 20th year brand anniversary with a star-studded fashion show that revisits his first ever collection ‘Kashgaar Bazaar’, including high and fine jewellery and accessories in collaboration with Christian Louboutin. The show brings back codes from his first collection, emphasizing that a designer's signature doesn't change but evolves to capture the zeitgeist of its time. His homage to slow luxury continues. Hand dyed signature colours, iconic hand blocked prints created by The Sabyasachi Art Foundation, and the house's hallmark artisanal crafts and handwoven textiles are layered together in his signature multicultural aesthetic. A celebration of Indian craft, culture and confidence. He makes it to Business of Fashion’s Modern Entrepreneurs list alongside Serena Williams, Stefano Pilati, Gabriela Hearst and Huda Kattan.
SABYASACHI X BERGDORF GOODMAN
Sabyasachi debuts at Bergdorf Goodman in New York with an exclusive collection of High Jewellery. After the roaring success of the pop up, he has continued to retail his jewellery collection at Bergdorf’s. From his early days at Browns and Selfridges in London to the sold-out capsule collection at Lane Crawford in Hong Kong—Sabyasachi is committed to presenting the best of India across the world, but from the most iconic spaces.
SABYASACHI X H&M
Sabyasachi becomes the first Indian designer brand to collaborate with fashion behemoth H&M, joining an esteemed list of designers including Karl Lagerfeld, Versace and Balmain. The collection is available in about 50 countries and globally online. India’s largest online retailer Myntra crashes 9 seconds after the collection launch, the entire collection sells out in under 7 minutes online, and in stores in India by the end of the day. The collection also features H&M’s first ever sari. In the same year, Aditya Birla Fashion Retail (ABFRL) acquires 51% of the business. Sabyasachi outlines his future mission to become India’s first global luxury brand.
NAMASTE NEW YORK
Sabyasachi launches his first international flagship store in New York. The mission is to change the world’s perception of Indian luxury—making the shift from ‘made in India’ to ‘designed and made in India’. The 5,800 sq ft. store creates waves across Indian and International media, Paper Magazine brands Sabyasachi “India’s most international superstar”. The store houses Sabyasachi jewellery, accessories and clothing, and announces the relaunch of Sabyasachi’s ready-to-wear collection. A comeback after its last appearance at New York Fashion Week, over a decade ago.
CELEBRATING INDIA WITH THE WORLD
Sabyasachi launches his largest flagship yet in Mumbai’s heritage district. The most realised iteration of Sabyasachi retail, the space is a sprawling living museum. “I have always believed that if you make something of consequence the world will come to you,” says Sabyasachi. The store has established itself as a landmark of luxury in India, it houses the largest bridal and couture salon, the international and Indian ready-to-wear collection, the largest collection of jewellery, an exhibition of archival pieces, and a discreet tea room for friends and visitors from across the globe.
His expansion plans continue over the year, launching the brand’s first Fine Eyewear collection in collaboration with Morgenthal Frederics. He designs Shola Masks that are worn by their majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla at the Elephant Family’s annual fundraiser, the Animal Ball. Unveils the Animal Ball Edition of Sabyasachi High Jewellery at London’s iconic Lancaster House. And is selected by Disney to celebrate their 100th anniversary as part of Create 100 in support of Make-A-Wish®️. He presents the first High Jewellery show in India to rave reviews.
With his now thriving international ready-to-wear clothing, accessories and jewellery businesses—Sabyasachi is currently shaping the vision for the next 20 years...