Despite not being a part of our country’s traditions and culture, a pair of blue denim jeans has come to represent many things in contemporary India. For some it’s a matter of plain comfort, a go-to garment for when you’re stepping out; for others, it’s a symbol of hope, of a modern India where gender roles are slowly dissolving into many shades of progress. For some, it’s a mark of insincerity and there are those who believe it’s a nostalgic reminder of India’s flourishing indigo economy.
For a fashion trend that was the result of our growing fascination with the West, denim has indeed infiltrated the Indian market and challenged the status quo in unimaginable ways. Blazers, shirts, bombers, saris—there’s nothing denim doesn’t offer. Artists today are even using denim as a canvas for their art, paving way for a whole generation of young designers who are experimenting with this fabric in eco-friendly, sustainable, and unique ways. From khadi denim to recycled denim, here are some Indian fashion labels that are truly breathing new life into a fabric that is no longer perceived as a non-native symbol of fashion.
Started by Kerala-based Siddharth Mohan Nair, DesiTude’s Khadi Denim products stem from an intrinsically Gandhian philosophy of looking inward and being ‘swadeshi’. The fashion came about rather serendipitously when Nair used Khadi to make a pair of jeans and was immediately bombarded with inquiries about the same. With a more flexible weave and personalised human touch that goes into the dying and stitching of the fabric, DesiTude offers a diverse catalogue of pieces that come in many colours. And for every sale, the label also plants a sapling with the intention of giving back to nature.
Price: A pair of Khadi Jeans for Rs. 6,500.
Straying away from the age of mass manufacturing, Korra, a Delhi-based fashion label, produces specialises in eco-friendly denim jeans, jackets, and shirts for both men and women. Founded by Shyam Sukhramani, Himanshu Shani, Mia Morikawa, and Rajesh Jaju, each product is made from start to end by one single tailor, who also leaves his signature on the same. Thereby bridging the gap between the consumer and the maker. A fashion label with a conscientious approach towards its production process, Korra’s garments truly bring together the best of comfort and style.
Price: Denim wear starts at Rs. 6,000.
From shirts and jackets to other lifestyle products, 11.11 makes a range of Khadi denim products. Making use of 100% organic cotton that is ethically sourced, each product is dated, signed, and numbered by the artisan who worked on it. Founded by Shani Himanshu, the label also has a concept store in Tokyo, Japan. With flowing drapes that are laced with a hint of androgyny, 11.11’s pieces are individualistic, unique, and unlikely to be found elsewhere.
Price: Starting upwards from Rs 8,900.
A Copenhagen-based brand originally from Arunachal Pradesh, Nixonbui’s designs are rooted in the founder’s understanding of the tribal culture and design sensibilities that stemmed from his childhood years spent in the Northeastern region of this country. A responsible and sustainable fashion label since the very start, Nixon Bui’s pieces are an eclectic fusion of contemporary urban designs with authentic tribal philosophies. We particularly admire the oversized, hand-embroidered Chitam denim jacket available on its website.
Price: The Chitam denim jackets is for Rs. 20,000 (approx.)
Location: Delhi and Mumbai
There’s nothing quite as reflective of streetwear as chic denim garments that exude comfort ease and style. Founded by Anand Ahuja in 2012, Bhane is one of the few pioneers of contemporary indie fashion in the industry. With a variety of denim jackets and jeans for both men and women, Bhane’s catalogue lies at the intersection of trendy and conventional - the latter made obvious in the etymology of its name, which means the ‘rising sun’. Bhane is one of the relatively affordable denim brands that doesn’t compromise on quality no matter what.
Price: Prices start at Rs. 2,000.
Founded by Kriti Tula, Doodlage is based on the sustainable philosophy of recycling and reusing industrial waste to produce garments that are distinct from anything you’d find in a mall. A zero-waste fashion label, Doodlage’s denim collection is a breath of fresh air with its variety of denim shades that are put together to create chic, contemporary clothes that have a hint of elegance and sophistication. For edgy, out-of-the-box, check out Doodlage’s refreshing denim wear.
Price: The Denim Collection starts at Rs. 6,500.
VII. The Ikat Story
Juggling boho sensibilities, a fascination for androgynous fashion and an uncanny eye for detail, model-cum-stylist Chandni Sareen’s love for the traditional ikat fabric came a full circle when she amalgamated all of these into her project ‘The Ikat Story’. Each garment has its own tale to tell, and the fabric has ultimately been instrumental in facilitating Chandni’s transition from stylist to designer, a creatively evolutionary step she says ‘came very naturally’. Although, Ikat Story doesn’t really have a denim collection at the moment, they’re working on one currently and it’s expected to be out soon, probably next month. So watch out for some beautiful ikat denims to jazz up your wardrobe.
Price: Will be announced soon
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