The upcoming session of the Indian Premier League (IPL), India’s glamour-packed cricket tournament, will see a sartorial anomaly come to life — cheerleaders wrapped in saris.
Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s IPL team, the Kolkata Knight Riders, has decided to cover their cheerleaders in one of the most traditional Indian outfits — a marked departure from their 2008 wardrobe when a lot of skin, from midriff to thighs, was on display.
All these sari-clad cheerleaders would be “local hires” and will dance to classical Bengali music in between boundaries and fall of wickets. The team management is of the opinion this will help connect with Bengali cricket fans and improve ticket sales.
This is not the first time an IPL team has shunned short skirts and pompoms for a more conservative costume. Last year, the newest addition to the IPL franchise — Pune Warriors — had classical dancers, called ‘cheer queens’ in ethnic clothes. The owners had said these ‘cheer queens’ would showcase India’s rich and diverse culture on an international platform.
But could it be that this change in attire has less to do with a new-found respect for Indian culture, and more with economics? Since the 1920s, some analysts have believed that during times of economic hardships, hemlines drop dramatically. The theory, known as the hemline index, has been put to test recently. In recession-hit 2008, full-length dresses had been in vogue. In 2010, as stock prices rose, mini-skirts made a comeback.