I have a confession to make. I’m not a fashionista. Gotcha! Didn’t I?
But, you see, I’m an expat wife, and one of the rules of expat wifedom is that we wives are supposed to be into high fashion and luxury brands. Designer duds and designer bags. Expectations are high that we sashay through the halls of five-star hotels (Trident or Oberoi family only), our Manolo heels click-clacking across marble floors, our arms draped with Gucci handbags with their logos strategically facing front, our wrists adorned with Omega watches for all to see and admire. Whether real or fake (ssh! most of them are fake), our brands define our identity.
As an American in India, I have always preferred American brands. It’s the patriotic thing to do, and my way of supporting foreign direct investment (FDI) in India. I frequent my local Starbucks, favor Nike sneakers, and wear Kenneth Cole dresses. On a recent trip to Dubai, I fell in love with Ralph Lauren. Not the person, the clothing line, specifically, the Denim & Supply line. After all, what’s more American than paying $50 for a t-shirt with a weathered American flag on the front?
The collection is casual, but sophisticated; fun and flirty; edgy but with a romantic side, too.
When it comes to handbags, however, I don’t favor Tory Burch or Birkin bags. Honestly, I’m not sure I’d know a Birkin bag if someone smacked me upside the head with one, imprinting the logo on my face. I prefer simple Indian patchwork and Kashmiri handmade designs. These handbags look like bright. multicolored quilts guarding your valuables.
The version I favor has leather straps and bottoms for durability and a pocket on the front for my Apple iPhone (OK, so maybe I’m a little brand conscious). Because the bags are cloth, they fold easily for travel. I was devastated when the bag I took to the US ripped. That’s one weakness; as beautiful as they are, they’re also fairly fragile and prone to snags. Fortunately, with an average price less than Rs. 1000 (less than $20), I can afford to replace them much more easily than a Birkin bag.
The bags are commonly available around Mumbai, but I prefer the ones at Su:riti The Culture Shop in Powai. The shop features popular Indian cultural items like marble Ganeshas, sandalwood elephants, and elaborate door decorations. The staff searches for quality arts and crafts pieces and works closely with suppliers around India to ensure a durable gift for your loved ones or yourself. Next time you’re in Powai, check out Su:riti. The shop is located on the second floor of Haiko Marketplace.