The “Modi jacket” — a sleeveless vest which extends down below the belt and rises at the neck to form a stand-up collar – is one of the best-selling clothing items in the country, the Guardian reported. The staff of Khadi, a department store in central Delhi, say they are selling at least 100 “Modi vests” every day.
Modi is unique among Indian leaders for his devotion to Hindu nationalism, a movement that has vied for more than a century to reshape the idea of India, considering it to have been stifled for too long by Delhi’s secular elites. Modi’s party has recently announced that it is building a museum to “all prime ministers”, unveiling the largest statue in the world in honour of Sardar Patel, a founding leader of India.
The Modi jacket gained extra attention when South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, unknowingly stepped into a dispute over its name a few weeks ago, tweeting a picture of himself wearing a “Modi vest” the Indian leader had sent him.
During my visit to India, I had told the Prime Minister @narendramodi that he looked great in those vests, and he duly sent them over, all meticulously tailored to my size. I would like to thank him for this kind gesture. pic.twitter.com/wRgekJSW16— 문재인 (@moonriver365) 31 октября 2018 г.
The picture sparked a debate whether the jacket is inspired by Modi or by India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who wore a similar-looking jacket and has been a symbol for the parties opposing Modi.
Ravinder Bawa of SM & Sons, when asked by the Guardian about the jacket, disagreed. “This is one of the oldest jackets,” he says. “Modi’s is more or less the same, but he wears bright colours, while Nehru wore cream and white.”
Bipin Chauhan, whose menswear store JadeBlue, located in Gujarat, has been designing Modi’s clothes since 1989, said that these two pieces of clothing are definitely not the same, and “only those who wear it can understand.”
“It’s been around for a long time,” he says, but trained eyes can spot the difference. “Nehru’s used to wear his shorter and a bit tighter. This Modi jacket is longer and more comfortable. It’s a businessman’s jacket. It also covers your tummy better, because men in India get a bit of a tummy after age 40.”