In a world where everything is so obviously influenced by our physical appearances and the kind of clothes we wear, underwears - the most intimate item in our wardrobes - continue to exist as an afterthought, for people of all genders. Underwear, for women, comes disguised as an expression of sexuality, and for men, as a symbol of their machismo - an underlying truth in all our television and print advertisements. But hardly anyone wants to get into the depth of it to understand what consumers actually want to wear and why - not even the consumers themselves.
In India, shopping for innerwear is still considered a taboo by many. While for women it is stigmatised to the point where they feel the pressure to be discreet about their need to purchase new underwear, for men it’s all about picking up the first pack-of-three they see on the shelf. Unfortunately, comfort is the least of our concerns.
However, the past few years have witnessed a huge shift in this mindset; a movement being led by the youth of our country. Although still a nascent and relatively unexplored concept, many Indians are now identifying ‘innerwear’ as an industry of its own. One which is equally affected by concerns of body-positivity, sustainability, and inclusivity. So read on for a list of ‘underwear pioneers’, as we like to call them, who are reshaping the kind of conversations we have around undergarments in general.
We’ve all heard of body-positivity and gender fluidity when it comes to clothes, but what about underwear? Founded by Abhishek Elango, Tailor and Circus, is a Chennai-based underwear brand that offers anti-microbial, sustainable, and fully inclusive innerwear made out of micro-modal - which is extracted from the beech wood tree. A venture that started out as a men’s underwear brand eventually realised the inherent misogyny that comes with women’s underwear brand as well and decided to make undergarments that were body-positive in every way possible and catered to a diverse audience. A thought that is reflected on their Instagram page as well.
It was in 2017 that Joyita Banerjee noticed that the women’s innerwear industry was somehow limited to floral, polka dots, and Aztec prints only. Rejecting this male narrative of feminity that seemed to dominate a product that was exclusively for women, Joyita decided to start Underworld as an innerwear fashion label that would steer away from traditional prints, and incorporate snazzier graphic prints. Of course, rendering intricate graphic designs on little pieces of fabric is not easy, but over time, Joyita and team have found a way to make it happen. Something that’s apparent in their debut collection ‘BUMMER’.
Underwear for men has almost always been an afterthought. With its minimalist designs, basic colours, and standardised packaging, there’s hardly anything to be excited about. However, Buttalks, founded by a Chennai-based trio Brijesh Devareddy, Surej Salim, and Manish Kishore, is bringing a unique concept to India: subscription-based men’s underwear delivered to your doorstep once every four months. The process is simple; you choose your favourite brands, put in your preferences and other details, and then just sit back and wait for new undies to arrive every few months or just once, depending on your subscription plan.
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