Priyanka Chopra-Law Roach Row: Is Fashion Industry Obsessed With Sample Size?

Fashion designers and stylists talk to us about the controversy surrounding Priyanka Chopra and Law Roach.

Hot Take
6 min read
Hindi Female

The recent controversy between Priyanka Chopra and her former stylist Law Roach has brought to light a long-standing issue in the Indian fashion industry - the restrictive sample sizes.

For those unfamiliar, sample sizes in the fashion industry typically range from sizes 0 to 4 and are used to create prototypes for designers' collections.

However, these sizes have become the norm for models and celebrities, leading to exclusion and discrimination against bodies who do not fit this narrow size range.

Roach's comment about Chopra not being fit for the sample size has sparked a conversation about fatphobia and body shaming perpetuated by the industry's obsession with a narrow definition of beauty.

To better understand the complexities of this issue, we spoke with a leading designer and a notable stylist in the Indian Fashion industry.

Fashion designers and stylists talk to us about the controversy surrounding Priyanka Chopra and Law Roach.

Priyanka Chopra with former stylist Law Roach.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)


Saisha Shinde is India's first openly transgender fashion designer. In the business for 17 years, Shinde's work has been recently showcased in the megahit film Pathaan, starring Deepika Padukone, Shah Rukh Khan and John Abraham in lead roles.

Reflecting on the controversy between Priyanka and Law Roach, she responds, "It was extremely irresponsible for her (Priyanka) to talk about such a sensitive subject without any context or pre-context, and putting blame on the designer."

Shinde stresses on how a lot of work goes into creating a look for a celebrity. "There is a lot of pressure on the stylist, the designer and everyone involved in the team to put out a fab where I feel a change needs to come is, in the understanding that things are not so black and white."

Fashion designers and stylists talk to us about the controversy surrounding Priyanka Chopra and Law Roach.

Deepika Padukone in a custom-Saisha Shinde creation for Pathaan's hit song 'Besharam Rang'.

(Image Courtesy: Instagram)

Dhruv Aditya Dave is a Bollywood stylist whose body of work flaunts a diverse clientele, including Huma Qureshi, Rasika Dugal and Patralekhaa.

He reacts, "I don't know if the conversation was taken out of context or if Law Roach said it in a condescending manner, but I understand why Priyanka found the comment hurtful."

The stylist reasons, "As someone who's also not a sample size, walking into the store is a struggle sometimes. I relate to what it feels like to be rejected in the fashion industry. You slog and slog trying to make it in the industry, then you walk into a store and nothing fits...or they push you to place a custom order. A skinny person does not have to go through so much hassle. They can simply walk into a store, find something in the sample sizes and walk out."

Fashion designers and stylists talk to us about the controversy surrounding Priyanka Chopra and Law Roach.

Huma Qureshi in a look styled by Dhruv Aditya Dave.

(Photo Courtesy: Instagram)

For context, Priyanka had revealed during a panel at the South by Southwest Film Festival last week, that someone had commented on her not being "sample-sized," which hurt her and she discussed it with her family.

Although she did not name her former stylist as the person who made the comment, Law Roach was asked about it in a recent interview after announcing his retirement from being a celebrity stylist. He stated that he never had that conversation with Priyanka and was hurt that it ended up in the press.


Sample Sizes: What And Why?

According to Dhruv, sample sizes are essentially all the clothes adhering to the small window of sizes that are worn by models on the runway. After the clothes are advertised on the runway, they end up in editorial shoots or high profile events. But only the ones who can fit into this small window of sizes are the ones who can further wear these garments.

Saisha answers, "Of course there's a sample size in the Indian fashion industry which has been running since generations and decades now. Is this the time to change? Yes. Now we are in a place and position to understand the sensitivity of inclusivity and that change is happening. It's going to take time but it's happening, for sure."

Citing an example of her own brand, Saisha Shinde Official, she says, "We don't have any outfits that are in the "so-called sample size" nor do we charge extra for plus size."

Are the current sample sizes restrictive?

Dhruv responds, "They're extremely restrictive because the models who usually walk the runway are small and petite...they follow one body type."

"Nowadays, you'll see ten skinny models and two plus size models walking the ramp and they'll call that diversity...but I consider that tokenistic".
Dhruv Aditya Dave, Fashion Stylist

The Bombay-based stylist adds, " Even after hiring plus size models, the samples are still extremely rigid and I find that absolutely ridiculous."

Fashion designers and stylists talk to us about the controversy surrounding Priyanka Chopra and Law Roach.

Actor Rasika Dugal in a look styled by Dhruv Aditya Dave.

(Photo Courtesy: Instagram)

Saisha also agrees with the window being too restrictive, "For sure, the current sample size is restrictive...but like I mentioned, change is happening."

"As a designer, we keep a lot of different sizes, not just limited to plus sizes but also women who are shorter, women who are much thinner, women who are probably broader in certain areas and thinner in certain areas".
Saisha Shinde, Fashion Designer

What It Means For Sizes Beyond The Sample

Upon asking how the stylist sources clothes for his clients who don't fit into the sample size, Dhruv answers, "I feel it's extremely important to highlight brands who do make it easier for sizes that are not just the sample size. I work with high-street brands, young fashion creators like Costume County, Pul.ovr. Falguni Shane Peacock also does some amazing work...these make my job enjoyable and easier. I also love working with the clients that I have.

"As far as Indian brands are concerned, it's not so easy to source outfits for some of my clients. Even though they feature plus size models and talk of inclusivity in promotions, they only have sample sizes in stores. And that's extremely disappointing".
Dhruv Aditya Dhave, Fashion Stylist

Being a designer, Saisha evidently does not grapple with the same concerns regarding sourcing. She responds, "I have been a designer for the last 17 years and I have made samples for literally every body type, every gender type, every colour...I mean, you name it i have made clothes for them.

She adds, "I have made outfits for literally every size there is and I don't see what problem any designer or stylist would have in doing the same."

Fashion designers and stylists talk to us about the controversy surrounding Priyanka Chopra and Law Roach.

Sunny Leonne in a Saisha Shinde creation.

(Photo Courtesy: Instagram)


To undo this obsession with restrictive sample sizes in the industry, Dhruv lists out some pointers.

"Often, fatphobia is subliminal and ingrained, with the way some people wear my clothes and ask, "It's making me look skinny, na?" But I'm not here to make you look skinny. If you're fat, that's beautiful too. So we need to take the power from people weaponizing the word 'fat' and using it as an insult".

"Bollywood largely informs the fashion industry. A bigger platform needs to be given to plus size actors, designers should also start catering to them because their size does not equate to their talent, in any way".
Dhruv Aditya Dave

For Dhruv, the onus should be on designers who must create bigger sample sizes to not only set better standards but also normalize bodies beyond the sample.

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Topics:  Bollywood   Priyanka Chopra   Body Shaming 

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