Now, A Rickshaw Worth One Lakh

November 2011
Inspired by the desi rickshaw, US fashion label launches a limited edition version

The humble cycle rickshaw now has a haute avatar. Last week, US-based fashion label Anthropologie launched a limited range of rickshaws -complete with a collapsible kantha-fabric canopy, ghungroos and kitschy Hindi catchphrases. All for the small price of $2,200 -that's R1.07 lakh only! The makers say they were inspired by Indian rickshaws on a recent visit to the country. Available online, they are touted as “quixotic carriages“ meant for actual use or even as display pieces.

For Indian designers, this is yet another sign of something desi becoming a global icon. “It is wonderful that the world is taking such strong cultural inspiration from India,“ says designer Payal Jain, who created a designer rickshaw last year. “The West often borrows from us. Whether it is zardozi or yoga.Now the rickshaw has become a fashion statement,“ says designer Dolly J, who also showcased a fancy rickshaw last year.

However, given that the price of a desi rickshaw is around R8,000, the designer version has come under criticism. “Not only is it crazy expensive, but it also seems a little iffy to us to drop tons of cash on a corporate-fancified vehicle that many impoverished people in the developing world rely on to scrap together income,“ wrote the Huffington Post.

Rickshaw pullers in Delhi are amused. “Ek lakh toh bahut jyada hai! Hum R8,000 mein hi mushkil se kharidte hain. Unke paas bahut paisa hoga,“ says Sunder Kant, a rickshaw puller in West Delhi. “Woh chalaenge aisa rickshaw? Kisi din main bhi usme baithna chahunga,“ says Mohan Sharma, a rickshawallah in South Ex.

Source : Hindustan Times, HT City, 7th November 2011
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