Denim - the sturdy fabric that so many of us live in, is one of the most versatile in the market. Beyond gender, age, and class, denim fabric has been a favorite for people, in its many varied avatars. From jeans and dungarees to bucket hats and fanny packs, denim continues to be reinvented with changing times. Owing to their durability, they are also one of those fabrics whose lifecycle gets extended through upcycling.
Denimals is a brand from Kochi that started from the founder’s love for denim fabric as a medium and a vision to experiment with it. The initial idea was to converge design and content creation under the label to start a creative fashion studio. But eventually, it transpired into the fashion brand that it is today. Bilal Rahim, the founder of Denimals grew up seeing how clothes were made. When asked about his creative inspiration, he mentioned how at a young age he’d stitch things with his mum on the sewing machine, whether that was his own pants or just random costumes. He went on to say, ‘As the son of someone who used to tailor clothes and had a love for crafts, I think a part of that love was passed onto me.’
After graduating with a degree in BA Animation, Bilal has been working as a graphic designer. Eventually, in 2019, he decided to take the plunge and start Denimals, along with his steady job. He is supported by his friend Sabari Raj, who is a multimedia artist and works as the creative director of the brand with him. With a love for slow organic growth, they didn’t have a typical marketing/positioning strategy in place for gaining popularity. Their efforts were rather put towards creating products and visual narratives that were distinctive and original.
Participating in pop-ups or being part of the right campaigns has helped the brand to grow in its own way. Most recently, the brand collaborated with Auroville-based band Gowwli, for their music album called Lizard Tales. The continued engagement of the people who have interacted with the brand in the online space is also something that has kept the venture going. In reaching out to fashion creators, the brand has been well-received by virtue of their originality, and similarly, they have been approached by pop-up events to be featured.
Denimals as a brand is ungendered, whether it is acid-washed jeans, screen printed jackets, or upcycled shackets. However, a non-negotiable aspect of the original designs is that at least 60 percent of each product features denim fabric. In addition, they are curating quality denim pieces from other brands at affordable rates as well. When asked to describe the aesthetics that his brand fit into, Bilal summed it up as being Urban Casuals. The essence of the brand is captured in its vibrant colors, streetwear-inspired silhouettes, and the room for customisation that they offer. In fact, customisation is something that Bilal thinks is a key feature of Denimals. While staying true to the brand’s sensibilities, they customise attire on demand — whether that is through embroidery, screen printing, bedazzling, or something more.
Running the brand also came with challenges of time and finances, which Bilal is slowly but surely figuring out. As someone who has lived and made a home in Kochi, he is now working towards opening up a physical store in Kochi this year. The continuing support from his friends and the recognition that the brand seems to garner has been the biggest motivator to do so. When asked about his plans in the long run, Bilal said that he hopes to stay true to the idea of honoring denim as a fabric. But he also is working towards creating more labels under the title of The Denimals brand — starting with a streetwear label that he hopes to drop soon.
You can stay tuned to The Denimals via Instagram.
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