In an age where sensibilities are raw, fashion brand Gucci’s use of the Sikh turban during the Milan Fashion Week has come under heavy fire. Using religious accoutrements in fashion always creates an uproar. In this case, the Sikh community felt that the Turban disrespected. “Gucci making European models wear turbans is in totally bad taste as a Sikh turban symbolises projective identity which conveys royalty, grace, and uniqueness, and a signal to others that we live in the image of infinity and are dedicated to serving all. For a Sikh, the turban is not merely an item of cultural paraphernalia but is worn in recognition of the high moral standards that our Guru had charted for his Khalsa followers. It represents complete commitment. When you choose to stand out by tying your turban, you stand fearlessly as one single person standing out from six billion people. Instead, a Sikh model would have made a huge difference through his uniqueness,” says Roshan Singh, founder MedSol Health Solutions LLP and managing partner Kiran Traders.
This is not the first time an international brand has come under fire. In 2013, Jean Paul Gaultier, in his spring-summer collection, was questioned on the use of turbans on non-Sikh models, and reducing a religious symbol to nothing more than a fashion statement. Ramneet Kaur, a housewife opines, “Sikhism is known for its bravery, courage, honesty, being unbiased and serving humanity. These qualities impress people across the world. The identity of a Sikh is the turban. I believe Gucci was impressed by Sikhism, and its culture and wanted to make the models look unique. But the approach should have been different. Sentiments of the community should always be kept in mind before taking such big decisions.” While the turban serves as a mark of commitment to the Sikh gurus, it distinguishes a Sikh as an instrument of the guru, and decrees accountability for certain spiritual and temporal duties.
“For Sikhs, the turban is a gift of our Gurus, our religion and identity. I’m a proud Sikh and the turban is not a fashion accessory or head gear to be used casually. It has the sentiments and sacrifices of our gurus attached to it,” feels Gagan Kohli, vice-chairman, Guru Nanak Institutions. The verdict is out — Gucci should have been more cautious; Fashion designer Archana Manchala concurs. “The Sikh turban is a true symbolic representation of their faith. Gucci has used it as a mere headgear and it is very inappropriate, offensive as it’s very sacred. Designers should do their homework before their collections go on the runway so that they don’t hurt anyone’s sentiments,” feels Archana.