Unlike most of us, 28-year-old Tiasunep Aier grew up without the world at his fingertips. He was never a hashtag away from the latest #Inktober illustrations, nor did he have endless Pinterest boards for whenever his inspiration ran dry. Growing up in Chumukedima, a small town in Nagaland, Aier’s only source of inspiration for a very long time were comic books. The world of Marvel and DC, their invincible American superheroes occupied a huge chunk of Aier’s formative years. He would not only devour them but also rush back home to sketch them out in his free time. Of course, back then, Aier did not imagine art to be an actual career. Nobody did. But life, as always, has surprises in store for everyone.
In January 2017, after having lived away from his hometown for almost a decade, Aier found his own streetwear clothing label — OldCabin. “Luckily, one of my friends got into screen printing business and helped me start the brand. We launched it with just two t-shirt designs and a tote bag,” says Aier while talking about how OldCabin ended up attracting more attention than he’d imagined. “We had almost no marketing strategies, we simply weren’t prepared”, he adds.
An eclectic mix of intriguing motifs and designs, OldCabin’s designs exude simplicity. Aier sticks to blacks and whites, while experimenting with Japanese typefonts and inconspicuous underlying themes. While minimalism is definitely at the heart of Aier’s creations, he personally believes that it’s his emotions and opinions about things around him that inspire most of his work. For example, ‘Surveillance’ — a black tote bag — is inspired by George Orwell’s classic novel 1984.
When you look at OldCabin’s exclusive range of hoodies, t-shirts and bags, it’s obvious that they’re an embodiment of Aier’s design sensibilities, a canvas for his artistic mind — just like his days spent sketching comic book characters. Only now he realises the gap between being an artist for oneself as opposed to being an artist for his customers. “As a kid drawing super realistic images to me was the epitome of being a great artist. But with time, I’ve started giving more thought to the process I follow. While some of my designs contain deep meanings, others are just created for the visual treat”, he tells Homegrown.
However, this isn’t Aier’s first attempt at streetwear fashion. Back in 2012, Aier and his friends had started their own streetwear clothing company. “The response was overwhelming initially but unfortunately, it had to end due to the differences in our objectives. We had an odd combination of great designs and some really terrible marketing strategies,” he tells us, before admitting that OldCabin is, after all, a result of such experiences. Currently, OldCabin is the effort of a small team of three very hardworking people — Katen, Yash, and Aier
As one of the few brands from the Northeast who are radically transforming and creating a space for themselves in India’s streetwear scene, Aier is in awe of how significant streetwear has become in the country. He tells us about what street culture looks like in the Northeast, “Very recently I was in Sikkim when I came across cab drivers and vegetable sellers wearing Northface and Supreme jackets. Even in Nagaland, so many kids are influenced by western and Japanese street fashion. Although fashion may not be the only reason why they wear those clothes, it still does show how accessible streetwear has become in the Northeast.”
As someone who moved out of his hometown in Nagaland and shifted to the other end of the country, Aier found plenty of opportunities that allowed him to pursue his passion beyond that of a graphic designer at a Pune-based design studio. Yet, it was his Naga roots that are now calling him home. Aier has recently quit his job in Pune, Maharashtra and is now headed back to Nagaland. As for OldCabin, he’s quite excited as one of his favourite pieces is still going through some prints but will be released soon. As far as the monochrome aesthetic of OldCabin is concerned, Aier has a few more surprises in store. “We will introduce more colours in the future but black remains the base for OldCabin,” he signs off.
You can see his work here.
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