For most of us, undergarments are always an afterthought. Hurriedly picked up on the way to the billing counter or as a quick online purchase. Underwears - despite being the most intimate item in our wardrobes - have not been tapped by the fashion industry quite as much as one would expect. With basic colours and limited patterns, shopping for underwear is often a dilemma between comfort and design. But with The Underworld Co.’s debut undergarment collection all that is about to change.
Operating out of a small studio in Gurgaon, The Underworld Co. was launched in August this year, with its debut collection of undies, vests, and robes called ‘BUMMER’. Described as “easy, breezy, and cheesy underthings for women”, the response for BUMMER has been phenomenal, as the founder Joyita Banerjee tells us, “It has been just over a month and the response has been encouraging. All my marketing and outreach has been organic and people who have bought the stuff are returning for more.”
As someone who has worked in the advertising, creative, and publishing industries before, it’s rather unusual for Joyita to have quit her job to start her own underwear label, but an early morning dream was all the push she needed to dive headfirst into a venture she knew very little about. “Underworld came to me one morning in a moment of inspiration less than a year back, and I felt strongly enough to have a go at it—quit my job, and pulled out all my savings to bankroll it. Since then there hasn’t been a moment to breathe: I am the one-stop shop—founder, designer, photographer, website designer, social media manager, collateral designer, the online marketer…and the person to carries the cartons up to my warehouse”, she tells us.
From a design point of view, Joyita found herself disappointed in the lack of creativity in the homegrown underwear industry. “I was just so tired of all the flowers and polka dots on chaddis and thought why don’t I just do something about it. This whole ‘sexy’ thing is a bit of a trap; I would never wear undergarments that look ‘sexy,’ but aren’t comfortable. But at the same time, women like to feel sexy: not for men, but for ourselves. It’s entirely possible to have the best of both worlds.”
Rejecting the male narrative of women’s underwear, BUMMER is full of original graphic designs that are unabashed and diverse, making use of lively colours and soft, comfortable fabrics. When asked about the playful pun (intended) in the label’s name, Joyita says, “‘Bummer’ was just a word that got thrown about a lot when my girlfriend and I would go shopping for underwear because we didn’t like what we saw. When it was time to name the collection, it just seemed perfect.”
But Joyita noticed a gap beyond just underwear in the market. She noticed the lack of variety, functionality, and designs in women’s nightwear too - another ignored item in the wardrobe. “Hence the vests and the extremely functional and breezy robes. Personally, the robes have quickly become my favourite pieces because they’re just so convenient to throw on when I wake up, till I get dressed”, Joyita tells Homegrown.
Currently, the homegrown innerwear industry is nascent. However, with entrepreneurs like Joyita taking risks and using their creativity to experiment in an undiscovered space, things are slowly changing.
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