Four-year-old from London becomes first patka-wearing model for British brand Burberry

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Many global brands have, in the past, been criticised for tokenism, which is basically a pseudo representation of a culture or community of under-represented people. Then, there are those that have courted controversy with cultural appropriation, too.

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But, the internet is loving British luxury fashion house Burberry‘s efforts to bring in genuine representation and celebrate diversity in its latest campaign, which it unveiled on social media recently.

On Instagram, it released official pictures for its children’s autumn-winter ’22 collection, for which the British heritage brand chose to cast a little boy called Sahib Singh, making him the first model to wear a ‘patka‘ that is traditionally worn by Sikh boys before they begin wearing the ‘pagri‘ — or the turban — as they grow older.

For the “back-to-school designs” from the new “#BurberryChildren” collection, Singh poses in a Thomas Burberry Bear puffer jacket worn over a printed cardigan and shorts. He also wears a black patka.

The photographs and videos from the shoot were also shared on Singh’s Instagram account, where his bio states “#representationmatters” and that he is “just a boy with a patka“.

The London-based boy, who is signed with an agency called South Coast Kidz, was even seen enjoying his time in behind-the-scenes footage from the shoot. Congratulating him, the South Asian New York Fashion Week wrote in a post, “Imagine slaying this hard so early in life — congratulations, @i_am_sahib_singh!”

“Growing up, we didn’t always see people that looked like us, especially in mainstream media and photography, let alone in the fashion scene. Little Sahib is making some big moves with @burberry right now, and we’re definitely here to support. What a moment,” the caption read.

His family also wrote on Instagram that the little one “had so much fun at this shoot”. “Being part of the Burberry Bear AW 22 campaign is incredible and to be the first patka-wearing model for the biggest British brand is just an amazing achievement for our little four-year-old and the Sikh community.”

They did, however, also mention that it was not an easy journey, and they went through “so many different emotions”. “We have felt a few disappointments when Sahib isn’t chosen for a job. We have never told him about any shoots until he’s fully confirmed as he doesn’t need to feel the emotions involved,” they wrote next to a video of the boy playing with stuffed bears.

“The stress when the council refuses his license to ‘perform’. Never underestimate a parent who wants the world for their child! The joy and pride I felt at the shoot was overwhelming. I couldn’t hold back the tears seeing Sahib recognised by this iconic brand. So grateful to them for pushing boundaries and always producing the best work,” his parent wrote.

They added that they want their kids to know and feel that “nothing is impossible”. “Modelling may not be Sahib’s career and that’s fine. But whether Sutch and Sahib want to be footballers, artists or chefs. They know they don’t have to stick to traditions and the sky is the limit.”

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