Street style has come to define wide genres in fashion, mostly reflecting a rebellion against the guarded bastions of style. At Vetements, we’ve seen Demna Gvasalia roll out oversized puffer jackets, and at Balenciaga runways he’s done denim. Virgil Abloh has presented his rendition of Louis Vuitton via metallic kimonos and utility jackets, while Riccardo Tisci has layered slouchy parkas over sweats a part of his oeuvre at Burberry. It’s a sentiment that’s filtered down to Indian streetwear labels as well.
For most of its history, street fashion was dismissed by the old guards of style as being too loud, expressive, and most often, not retail friendly. However, it always piqued a certain kind of interest among fashion insiders. The late New York Times photographer Bill Cunnigham’s successful photo essays of people spotted on the street and Scott Schuman’s imagery of modern style on the streets of Milan, Paris, New York and London via his blog The Sartorialist further cement its popularity. If that’s not enough, the late Anna Piaggi, the godmother of Italian street style who was dubbed by Cunnigham as ‘a poet in clothes’, with her avant-garde style, always made a strong case for street wear. Even Japan has had its own street fashion culture with Harajuku labels.
Now Indian fashion has also embraced various street style labels that reflect subcultures. Be it Huemn’s tribute to the wartorn Kashmir through statement sweatshirts, or Abhishek Paatni’s urbane take on street style with panelled jackets and joggers, or Anand Ahuja‘s Bhane, which is making street style all about real people. There is also a newer wave of street style labels shaking things up by infusing hints of Sikh culture in their merchandise, hand-painting Indian demi-gods on sweatshirts, and assimilating Indian craftsmen to bring rare embroideries on denim jackets. Read on to know more about these cool Indian streetwear labels.
Think boiler suits, panelled jackets, oversized denim shirts, and track pants. Bisket, a label founded by Harsha Biswajeet, a documentary photography graduate from School of Visual Arts, New York, and his sister, Shruti, a fashion graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology, is a multidisciplinary concept that explores the boundaries between art, fashion, and photography. While it encapsulates the tenets of street style, the brand seeks to break the duality of menswear and womenswear. Every piece by the label juxtaposes couture-like craftsmanship with a street style aesthetic, be it the space-inspired 3-D prints or working with a variety of fabric blends. The Brooklyn- and Chennai-based designers clearly understand the discerning millennials of today. This year they debuted at Berlin Fashion Week, and have also collaborated with Copenhagen-based artists, Gents, to create a capsule line.
and oversized jackets
Founded in February this year, Jaywalking is all about patchwork jeans, graphic sweats, and slouchy silhouettes that challenge conventions. When 26-year-old Jay Ajay Jajal, a fashion designer, rapper, and artist, decided to launch his label, size was a considerable parameter. He wanted to cater to plus-size clients and serve them an unapologetic taste of fashion. No wonder then that his slouchy jackets with exaggerated sleeves, bell-bottom jeans, high-waisted trousers, and hoodies in vibrant colourways have garnered rave reviews. Jajal also wants that clothes stay the hero, the reason why faceless models wearing his creations populate his Instagram feed. He works with fabrics such as neoprene, velvet corduroy, and denim, and Bollywood has already taken notice – Ranveer Singh, while promoting ‘Gully Boy’, slipped into his blue jacket and jogger pants. If you want to grab some of Jajal’s too-cool-for-school pieces, DM him.
How would you imagine street style merging with ethnic Indian fashion? Just look to Delhi-based streetwear label Delhiwear for inspiration. Founded by Harkrishan Singh Alag and Tarandeep Singh, the brand is all about retaining the simplicity of traditional silhouettes, while experimenting with colourways and fabrics. The simple kurta finds a new definition in their ‘Vardi’, an off-beat take on the time-tested silhouette, paired with ripped jeans and sneakers. Both Alag and Singh want to ensure that the traditional kurta becomes as ubiquitous as the T-shirt, and their version is a cool half-n-half kurta shirt. Besides this, there are canvas jackets, emblazoned T-shirts that read ‘MOH MAYA MOH PROBLEMS’, and even black and white leather sneakers. Something that began as a passion project by e-retailing handpainted shirts has now become a brand, exhibiting a cultural take on street style. And actor Ayushman Khurana is a fan.
For Sikkim-born designer Shia Rai, streetwear is a confluence of high-fashion and edgy ready-to-wear, and so she describes her eponymous label as ‘haute streetwear’. Growing up with limited access to street style, Raf Simons and Yohji Yamamoto became Rai’s inspirations. She wanted to create pieces which appealed to her but also have a strong narrative. Street fashion through her eyes is a blend of several subcultures like punk and grunge, and her experiments with flannel shirts, structured bralets, playsuits, and jumpsuits are her signature. For those who prefer a unisex appeal, there is a separate collection featuring printed T-shirts, sweats, and track pants. She retails on her website.
Launched in 2018 by Boston University graduates Kobi Walsh and Dhruv Khurana, Almost Gods sits between art and fashion. Created with the idea to push streetwear boundaries and the expectations of the traditional fashion market, their debut line ‘The Garden of Earthly Desires’ challenges the idea of silhouettes, material, and detailing. They have created pieces from locally sourced jacquard, and even commissioned Indian artists and craftsmen to treat their creations like canvasses. Imagine cool, cropped polyester shirts featuring a hand-painted rendition of ‘The Last Supper’, long jacquard jackets with flower pattern weaves, and vegan leather bags with 3-D lenticular print.
We love: The printed crewneck swearshirt and Panthera hoodie
All images: Courtesy brands