modi jacket
The Modi JacketMARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images

Does the famed 'Modi jacket' have any connection with the prime minister's political fortunes? With the Lok Sabha elections 2019 approaching, political observers are taking a close look at the popularity of the attire. The Modi jacket was a craze among his supporters in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, which Narendra Modi won comfortably. However, reports now say that the attire is losing popularity this time round. 

The sales of the jacket have come down drastically and the average sale is one per week, according to reports. In Aurangabad, Maharashtra, a trader said that he used to sell 35-40 jackets every day back in the last election cycle, but now the number has dwindled to one a week, reports PTI.

The Modi jacket is a short, sleeveless jacket worn often over a kurta. Modi made this style popular a few years back, drawing comparisons with the Nehru jacket, which the first prime minister of India had made famous.

JadeBlue Lifestyle India managing director Bipin Chauhan, who designed the jacket, said the Modi jacket is longer and more comfortable than the Nehru jacket.  The Modi jackets are also available in more colours compared to the Nehru jacket.

Dilip Lokhande, a small town tailor in Aurangabad, said that no one comes to him for a Modi Jacket anymore. He added that his tailors who specialised in the particular design have now gone on to stitch more formal outfits.

Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi

"We used to charge Rs 200 to 300 for stitching these jackets, based on the style. But, now our labourers earn more than that by making formal dresses, so we are also facing problems," Lokhande was quoted as saying by PTI.

Shakeel, a tailor who specialises in jackets, said that his last customer for the Modi jacket was in December.  "The customer came to us with polyester-cotton mix cloth for making the jacket, but he had to go back since my colleagues told him it will require over 15 days to craft it as they were already occupied with the marriage season," he said. "Despite next month's elections, we don't foresee that the jacket's popularity will touch the 2014 levels," he added.

Many shop owners and tailors in the Gulmandi, Tilak Path, Aurangpura, Sarafa, Osmapura and Cidco areas in Aurangabad have similar complaints. Gurvinder Singh, a businessman in the city, said that some of the reasons affecting the sales were GST and demonetisation. He added that a drought-like situation which has been plaguing the region could also be a contributing factor.

However, one trend which has picked up over the past couple of months is the Modi sari. The sari, which has the face of the Prime Minister printed on it, is very popular among the ladies in Gujarat. "It is a different kind of sari which has been launched recently. It is very popular among women. Right now, we have at least four types of saris with PM Modi's pictures on them," a shopkeeper told Times of India in February.