In its own inexplicable way, design is a part of everyday life. From the way we choose to dress ourselves to face our daily woes to the complex aspects of social structures that exist around us, design is integral. Toffle, the Delhi based non-traditional Street Wear label is one that is rooted in analyzing and communicating the observations, mistakes and lessons through life in the form of wearables. By referring to themselves as non-traditional, the label talks about their raw approach towards their projects that are not bound by genres. Fiddling with dystopian genres, reconstructed wear, bespoke collaborations and custom one-off pieces, the lack of a set brand identity is an exploration of their learning process.
Kashish Gemini and Brij, the duo behind the brand prefer calling their works as wearable art, because for them “there are still so many things that go into a final product hidden from the common eye and we cannot even list it all in one thought. It’s just a very beautiful happening to be labelled anything less than art.” By creating custom pieces, the label attempts to explore ways in which they can express ideas and personalities of their clients through their unique way of storytelling. In their collaboration with Raaftar, his works and influences were aspects of the final pieces. From the fabrics to the accessories, the music that inspires him and that he creates were woven into the end product.
The street wear label was the end result of many trials and errors for the duo. As students of engineering, they worked together on multiple projects that ranged from online archival directory to a hyper local marketplace for clothing for college students. But the harsh reality of impracticality that comes from depending on external vendors soon got them started on the path of creation. By taking design, production and everything else in to their own hands, they attained flexibility and the chance to grow and of course, create.
The designs by Toffle are unconventional in the best possible way. As designers with no formal training, their work was driven by intense research and an attempt to find their own footing. By understanding the culture of street wear, they learnt a lot and they went onto say, “One cannot rap about being from the streets if one grew up in the suburbs in an upper middle class family. That is what’s wrong with every process. It is sacred, it should not be corrupted. We took the essential truth of street wear and rather than copying what’s hot, we do our own thing in that theme. We tell our own story.”
Working and learning from each new collection and project, the duo is attempting to refine their design process constantly. Other than tailoring the basic structure of their pieces, most of their products are done by hand whether they are distressed works or art works. For ensuring product longevity, they use quality paint and multiple layers of strokes for hand painted or written content that are signature to their pieces. For special pieces, they work by taking in the references and feedback and create pieces that are right for the customer. Most of all, design for them is about quality and aesthetics and the process comes down to creating pieces they would love to wear themselves.
For creative inspiration, the brand draws from their lives and expresses it through their work. Their last collection called Calm over Chaos was their first detailed attempt in this direction. While struggling with the process of staying alive and figuring out the things in life, they felt there was no clarity in the chaos. In order to express the listlessness of wading through hearsay, insecurities and the million other things that draws one’s life apart, the brand designed pieces that were DIY- like. This basically meant pieces that seemed as if one took a brush and painted the pieces themselves to show that they are the real driving force behind the occurrences in their life; that one’s own reaction is what changes their life.
Kashish, the designer of the duo says they attempt to inculcate patterns of overcoming ignorance, aggression, exploitation, and such. And he went on to say, “Those who sees this theme in life are those that will appreciate our work and the designs that we create. Our designs might speak more to some and less to some, but we hope it speaks to everyone attempting to overcome something in their life consciously.”
By doing more custom projects, the brand is attempting to make each of their pieces more personal than the previous. They encourage design references that people bring in and hope to create pieces that people find value in, and not have them fooled by fast fashion. In their attempt to surprise their customers with each new project, Toffle is constantly attempting to surpass their previous works.
As a label, Toffle hopes to provide an easier medium for people to explore varied aspects of their personalities. By narrating their stories, they hope to talk about people, their uniqueness and all the inspiration that they put out in to the wider world through their designs.
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