Fashion trends always feel out of reach, especially when they’re born in exclusive spaces like on runways and in the atlieres of famous designers. But now, with social media and the advent of beauty and fashion bloggers who are sponsored by brands, fashion has become decentralised. More and more young, urban Indians are able to experiment with trends and styles that would be otherwise inaccessible until they hit the stores. One such trend is vintage fashion.
As the Indian youth discovers vintage stores and aficionados and bloggers of vintage fashion online and digs for similar garments in their parents’ closets, the world of vintage fashion in India is becoming increasingly populated. Homegrown interviewed three Indian men, Raffael Kably, Maan Shah, and Devbhuj Bundela, on their discovery of vintage fashion, the evolution of their style, and the oldest and most cherished pieces in their wardrobes.
Homegrown: Tell us about how you discovered your taste for vintage fashion. What’s your favourite part about it?
Devbhuj: I owe it to my grandfather and my father. While growing up as a kid, I always saw them rocking these styles and even when fashion for my generation was changing in the late ‘90s or early 2000s, they always got me clothes that had a vintage feel. My favourite part is that vintage wear gives me a sense of nostalgia and takes me back to my childhood.
Maan: My love for vintage fashion is linked to the subcultures I’m interested in, namely hip hop and rap culture. When I was younger, I would see people like Biggie and Tupac wearing vintage Versace shades and Fendi overalls and I wanted to dress like them... The fact that nobody else was wearing that stuff made it interesting to me. My favourite part about vintage fashion is that there’s always something fresh and something new to wear and you look different from everybody else. It’s cool to recreate looks that existed before you were even born.
Raffael: I’d say music and like the obsession I have with the ‘80s... Prints and styles right from pink rock to dance music.
HG: What differentiates vintage from other fashion eras?
Devbhuj: Modern and contemporary clothing is about re-inventing whereas vintage is unique. For me, it gives a strong sense of someone’s personality as you can always rock a printed shirt with an old pair of jeans and that adds more character. And not everyone today can pull it off. It’s like a loud declaration of who you are as a person, even before you say a word.
Maan: What differentiates vintage clothing is definitely the fact that it could be a medley or motley mix of any sort of eras. You could have bootcut flare up jeans from the ‘60s that Jimi Hendrix wore and you could have a biker jacket from the ‘80s that the Teddy Boys wore and you could be wearing shades from the ‘90s that Biggie wore... You could put all three together, they would still be called ‘vintage fashion.’ It’s like an umbrella name that is so inclusive of everything.
Raffael: To me, vintage would be fashion that represents any era of fashion in the past.
HG: What’s the oldest and/or most cherished piece in your closet?
Devbhuj: The oldest and most cherished piece in my closet is this handmade brocade sherwani that my grandfather wore for his brother’s wedding at our ancestral home.
Maan: The oldest piece I have in my closet is a Japanese kimono from the 1800s and the most prized piece I have is probably an archive piece from Raf Simons’ 1995 fall/winter collection. It’s a parka jacket.
Raffael: My mum’s 501 jeans and corduroy trousers. It takes a lot to pull off corduroy, but I think it’s cool. 501 is just the best pair of jeans ever made... I wish we could go back just for those jeans.
HG: How has your style evolved over the years?
Devbhuj: My fashion sense has changed drastically over the years. In college, you could only see me in baggy clothes, sticking to the basics and never experimenting as I was conscious about my body type. But gradually, I have evolved into someone who is more comfortable in his body type and this has helped me in being experimental with my clothes and making bold fashion choices. I like to express myself with the clothes I wear and it is fun.
Maan: My style over the years has evolved with my taste of music. When I was younger, I started with rock and metal music, so it was black band t-shirts with converse, maybe combat boots. Then I switched up to almost dressing like ‘Lil Wayne with baggy jeans, Bape, chains, flat hats, that kind of stuff. Ultimately, it’s come to a point where I’m just carefree and mix up my fashion, so I just wear anything that I like and what makes me happy, to be honest.
Raffael: I guess a combination of what was cool in the ‘80s and what is cool now. I really like modern trends that follow ‘80s fashion like skinny jeans, Doc Martens, etcetera. I think for me, personally, my journey with music is what evolved my taste in fashion and style over the years.
HG: If you could be one type of garment, what would you choose and why?
Devbhuj: Polka dot night suit- because it’s out there, fun, quirky, experimental, bold- and I am all of those. Also, I would pick the running material I saw when I was in Hoi An in Vietnam. I stopped the cab after I saw it in a shop despite being extremely late for my flight.
Maan: I would be a pair of Air Jordan Ones from 1984 worn by Michael Jordan... and why? Because you don’t get cooler than that.
Raffael: Currently an Ikat shirt something like NBNW or Ikat story as it makes me feel like me. It’s the perfect mix of classic Indian fabric and colour but presented in modern silhouettes.
[The responses have been lightly edited for grammar and brevity.]
Photographer & Feature Image: Samrat Nagar
Styling & Production: Homegrown
If you enjoyed reading this, we suggest you read: