“The lack of South Asian models is appalling”
“Indian culture, by its nature is modest and conservative”
“The way the models are dressed and photographed is culturally insensitive”
“the charity (SOS Children’s Village Multan) associated with the fashion show is based in Pakistan, which has had a turbulent history with India”
Sitara*, established in 2009, was created on the basis of bringing South Asian fusion fashion to St Andrews. Originating as a subcommittee of the Sanskriti Society, the representatives of the South Asian student population at St Andrews were very much inspired by traditions, cultures and attire stemming from the many beautiful and unique countries of South Asia. In particular, those of Pakistan and India, considering their immense influence on the global fashion industry.
However, Sitara* was not created on the basis of simply bringing the fashion, culture and tradition of these countries to our town but rather was based on the concept of fusion: inviting a celebration of diversity and identity no matter what your background is. Yes, that means our models will not all be South Asian, nor will our performers, nor will our committee or crew members. As Sitara* has never and will never select models based on race, ethnicity or religion, we stand for universality, and choose models based on capability and dedication. Together, we form a solid unity of internationality, and we proudly stand by it.
Indian culture, by its nature, is different to every single Indian. The very sentiment behind that statement highlights the importance of a society like Sitara*. We must work to break these misconceptions that women of a South Asian descent having a “right” way to dress being one of modesty and conservativeness. Sitara* aims to do this by using elements of attire from South Asian fashion and creating a symbolic and powerful message through the art of Fashion. It doesn’t matter if they are in a bathtub, in a bedroom, or on a street – art, and fashion have no boundaries in the Western world so why should we be putting boundaries on the Eastern world? Sitara* has never used elements religious attire in any of our photo-shoots. Our models are dressed and photographed in a manner that fuses two worlds of fashion, culture, and art together symbolizing the importance of unity, no matter race or ethnicity.
In the words of Mrs Mahnaz Sheikh, from the Administration Team of SOS Children’s Villages, “Having [Sitara*’s] support has lifted us in so many ways, that words can’t do justice, but the most beautiful part of this relationship has been cross borders support, igniting faith in global humanitarian efforts” (speaking about the charity’s relationship with Sitara*)
The Tribe’s anonymous writer goes on to demean the support given by Sitara* to SOS Children’s Villages, Pakistan, an independent, non-governmental, international development organization which works to protect the interests and rights of children globally since 1949. [www.sos-childrensvillages.org/]. Do India and Pakistan have a turbulent history? Absolutely. But we will not fight conflict with conflict; we are going to overcome it with solidarity and unity. How will we ever move forward if we allow past challenges to affect our opinions and actions today. We will not discriminate in choosing a charity, especially when it comes to education and children, and do not believe that we should ever have to justify our decision in choosing a charity based on past historical turbulence in South Asia.
With the air of regression, and discrimination, the Sitara* family takes great pride in our theme for Sitara* 2018; PRAYANA | ?????? | PROGRESSION, a chrysalis of Asian fusion fashion, art, and culture, from heritage to hereafter. We aim to break the barriers, the misconceptions, and stereotypes set before us whilst standing for liberty, freedom of expression and unity. We recognize and appreciate that others may have different opinions, however change means movement, we are moving forward, we hope you do too.
Lots of love always,
The Sitara* Family
*This piece and its images were wholly provided by the Sitara* 2018 Committee