Starbucks India x Sabyasachi: the cup everyone wants

The drinkware ranges plays with the designer’s signature Toile de Jouy imagery. The limited-edition release will also do its bit for girls education

April 12, 2022 01:26 pm | Updated 01:29 pm IST

Enter any Starbucks and you’ll see people on dates, and love stories blossoming, Sabyasachi Mukherjee tells me. “In a way Starbucks is in the business of matchmaking and we, in the business of weddings. It made complete sense.” He is talking about his latest collaboration, Starbucks India x Sabyasachi, and say what you might about his over-the-top marketing strategies and bridal looks, but you cannot deny him his way with words and his business acumen.

We suppose the designer was in a pensive mood because, unlike his other collaborations, this one has been rather quiet. Starbucks India x Sabyasachi, releasing on April 12 as an exclusive to India, is a line of drinkware, consisting of ceramic cups and steel tumblers. They all bear the signature Toile de Jouy flora and fauna art prints from his Art Foundation. Mukherjee has often pointed out the need to grow within a vocabulary, to create a lasting signature. To that end, the prints bear some resemblance to his sketches for the British luxury home brand, Thomas Goode, or certain pieces from his collaboration with American home decor brand, Pottery Barn. This line features eagles, alligators and his logo, the Bengal Tiger, all native to the landscape of his home town, in muted tones of green, red and charcoal black. They are sold as individuals, and will make for a fun mismatched coffee table set.

Twitter and Instagram blew up with memes, but it hardly takes a genius to guess that despite the furore caused by his previous collaborations, it will be completely sold out. In a country where most fashion designers have only lent their names to home or beauty collections at best, Mukherjee’s Midas touch is the best way to prove that strong design etymology transcends mediums. (For example, he has designed uniforms for the Rajkumari Ratnavati Girls School in Jaisalmer.)

Collab for a cause

“Collaborations make sense to either make money or impact,” Mukherjee had stated at the press conference. This one aims for both. Proceeds from the collection will be donated to the NGO, Educate Girls, as support towards the education of 3,000 girls. To acknowledge that, the coffee chain, for the first time, will change its call-out for the customers — it won’t be the buyer’s name, but a thank you from the girls helped by the sale of the goods.

Nostalgia and two cubes of sugar
“As a fledgling young design student in New York, I didn’t always have money for fancy places, but a Starbucks was my guilty pleasure. So, when the chain came calling for a collaboration, it felt like coming full circle,” he says. (Internationally, Starbucks has collaborated with designers like Alice + Olivia, Kate Spade, and Rodarte.) In case you were wondering, Mukherjee’s favourite order at Starbucks is a rich and indulgent Caramel Frappuccino, but he orders an Americano, extra hot, with two sugars more often.  

Despite the nascent understanding of a collaboration in a young fashion industry like India, partnerships pave the way for a deeper brand recall and growth. In the case of a much-loved brand, it is also an entry point. (You may not want to spend lakhs on a lehenga, but a few thousands on a cup is acceptable.)

Sabyasachi, the man and the brand, is hard to limit to any one category, but the mission is incredibly clear — it is from India, for the world. And while this association with the international coffee chain may only be available in India for now, his other designs will grab global eyeballs when his New York store opens its doors this September.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.