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How The Sandy Lion’s #SandySuit is a love letter to her South Asian heritage

By:
Jasleen Bains @jasleen.bainss

Sandy Gill, also known by her Instagram username The Sandy Lion is a stylist and designer known for posting her style tips and tricks for her followers to see.

On top of that, Sandy has her Masters in Education and is a teacher -- is there anything she can’t do? 

The subtle inclusion of South Asian elements to her pieces has made her designs stand out, and it's hard not to recognize one of her amazing "Sandy Suits" that have been worn by a number of big time names. 

So far, Sandy has worked with Lilly Singh, Humble the Poet, and Beena Minhaj just to name a few. 

One of my absolute favourite looks has to be the time she designed one of her Sandy Suits for actor Utkarsh Ambudkar who wore the suit on stage at the Oscars.   

Here, Sandy brought in parts of her heritage to design a formal suit with elements of South Asian culture intertwined.

Along the same thread, when Indian-American actor Utkarsh Ambudkar took the stage of the Oscars to perform a recap rap, his take was full of amazing references distinct to his own unique culturalidentity. 

"Been a long time trying to be colour blind, what you’re seeing right in front of you is a sign of the times," Ambudkar said, pointing to himself as part of the recap rap.

As a huge movie fanatic and fan of the Oscars, watching that performance live was the highlight of the night for me and for many other South Asian people who were proud to see that representation.

I must’ve watched his performance about eight times after the show, and finding out that the suit worn by Utkarsh was created by a Punjabi stylist made the moment even more meaningful. 

Just like Mindy Kaling was present at the Oscars "repping for South Asians," as stated by Utkarsh in his recap rap, so was Sandy’s suit, repping for South Asian heritage in a subtle, but incredibly important way on stage. 

Sandy took to Instagram to talk about the inspiration for the suit. “This suit is my love letter to my heritage, my obsession with art, and my desire to make people feel great and more confident about themselves,” she wrote in her post

The Sandy Suit was created in 2015 and according to Sandy, “it began with an idea of creating a power suit for women out of powerful fabric.” The Sandy Suit in this case, is meaningful because it was inspired by Indian moms, aunts, and grandmas. 

Fashion doesn’t exist in a vacuum. 

Designers use their own lived experiences to create their clothing, and we can see this with the Sandy Suit, which has now been worn at the Oscars, Emmys, Royal Weddings, in fashion magazines and at anumber of other high profile events. 

The way we dress and the choices we make or don’t make all contribute to how we’re understood in the world, and signal to the communities that we share a close bond with. 

When we choose a piece of clothing we are representing our choices, our history, and our heritage, to create a visual descriptor of who we are. 

In this sense, having Utkarsh choose to rock one of Sandy’s pieces was a powerful moment paying homage to our culture.

As he rapped the line, “you don’t know me,” in his recap on stage, for many of us South Asian kids watching from home, even if we didn’t know who he was, we knew what he represented. 

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