Business of Fashion - - Experimental - By Me­her Castelino

When it comes to fash­ion, no fab­ric has made an im­pact on the life­style of peo­ple glob­ally more than denim has done. Its his­tory is vast and var­ied tak­ing the fab­ric across sev­eral con­ti­nents be­fore it was es­tab­lished as a fab­ric that has re­mained on the top of the fash­ion charts for decades.

The fab­ric was first used dur­ing the Gold Rush in the 19th cen­tury in Cal­i­for­nia for the min­ers. Levi Strauss also put his name on it when the clever tent salesman used can­vas tent­ing to make trousers. It then moved to France where the French al­ter­na­tive was more suit­able. ‘Made in Nimes’ France, it was called Sergesde-Nimes (cloth of Nimes). Fun­nily, the Amer­i­cans pre­ferred the French ver­sion to their own but short­ened it to just ‘denim’.

The char­ac­ter­is­tic blue hue ac­cord­ing to his­tory dates back to the 18th cen­tury when it is be­lieved that Ge­noese sailors dis­cov­ered the tough­ness of denim that was ideal for uni­forms but white was dif­fi­cult to keep clean. Dye­ing it blue or in­digo, the sailors gave birth to a fash­ion sen­sa­tion. The word ‘jeans’ is sup­posed to be a deriva­tion of the word Ge­noese and so ‘denim jeans’ be­came the ‘must have’ in all wardrobes. Denim from be­ing ideal for work wear moved to be­com­ing a fab­ric of re­bel­lion in the 50’s but it has now moved into a fash­ion item.

In the past, it was pop­u­lar amongst the men for jeans and at times shirts. In fact jeans in denim were the only gar­ments that were worn by women for a cou­ple of decades, till de­sign­ers be­came more ex­per­i­men­tal and moved the fab­ric into women’s wear in a big way.

Denim in the past has ben pop­u­lar for jeans and at times shirts. De­sign­ers have now be­come more ex­per­i­men­tal and are us­ing denim for new fash­ion hori­zons— shoes, bags, ap­parel, ac­ces­sories, jew­ellery and even fur­nish­ings.


Denim has moved off the con­ven­tional beaten path in the 21st cen­tury and is now look­ing for only new fash­ion hori­zons. Footwear is one of the cat­e­gories that ap­par­ently ap­pears to work rather well with denim since the fab­ric has a sturdy qual­ity to match the de­sign­ing re­quire­ments for shoes. Payal Kothari the Shoe Sculp­tor’s la­bel ‘Ver­uschka’ has cre­ated ‘The Denim Court­yard’ Col­lec­tion for 2017. “The col­lec­tion of shoes is in­flu­enced by the blue city of Jodh­pur in shades of denim ideal for the In­dian sum­mer. The col­lec­tion is grounded, so­phis­ti­cated and high on com­fort,” in­forms Payal Kothari. The col­lec­tion of­fers wedges, com­fort­able block heels, bal­leri­nas and some stylish heels all crafted in blue denim.


If footwear has brought in denim as a favoured medium then can hand­bags be left far be­hind? Think of hand­bags and denim fits in re­ally well as arm candy. Nina Lekhi of ‘Bag­git’ the multi-crore-hand­bag brand has cre­ated her sig­na­ture line called ‘Nina Lekhi’ all in ver­sa­tile denim. “Denim is like your sec­ond skin which clutches to you with its dis­tinc­tive fin­ishes.

It has an aura of com­fort that you want to carry about and around you. It has been there for years and now it has be­come a pre­mium of­fer­ing avail­able in Black and In­digo colours. Denim makes com­mut­ing comfy and con­sumers have got used to the ma­te­rial and of­fered tex­tures. Denim bags are like vin­tage, which don’t lose their ap­peal with time but add to their be­guil­ing avatar. The re­fresh­ingly eye-catch­ing washed denim fab­ric bags from ‘Bag­git’ make them ex­cit­ingly al­lur­ing and fash­ion­ably fem­i­nine.

The bags are light­weight and easy to main­tain be­cause of their fab­ric base. The brown de­tail­ing at the base and strap has added ex­tra oomph to them. The ad­di­tion of stitched safety pins around the zip give the bags a raw look, which ap­peals to the con­sumers when they want to ex­per­i­ment with fash­ion,” re­veals Nina Lekhi who has cre­ated back­packs, sling bags, hand­bags and short han­dle cre­ations.


From footwear to hand­bags it is gar­ments that have al­ways been the favoured av­enue of denim glob­ally. Now In­dian de­sign­ers have moved onto the denim road in an ag­gres­sive and fash­ion­able man­ner that gives this tough fab­ric an ex­cit­ing fash­ion an­gle which moves from high fash­ion to prèt and ca­sual wear as well as from the western to the eth­nic seg­ments.

Aniket Satam’s cute dress is a re­fresh­ing take. “Denim is a ver­sa­tile tex­tile, which has uni­ver­sally bound us in a new genome. Its time­less ap­peal has refined com­fort and style across cen­turies. What was in­tro­duced, as a miner’s uni­form has be­come a wardrobe sta­ple, turned into an al­most sec­ond skin to ev­ery­one across the globe. Denim like water takes any shape and trans­forms into a stylish en­sem­ble with cool street style vibe. For the re­sort 2017 col­lec­tion I have used denim tex­tile with Orissa ikat ru­mal to cre­ate In­die cool cropped tops. The same denim edi­tion also fea­tures for over­sized ki­mono jack­ets tex­tured with tonal en­zyme washes,” says Aniket.

Farah San­jana’s over­sized, large lapel, bomber, jack­ets with amaz­ing tex­tur­ing add an in­no­va­tive di­men­sion to denim when teamed with stylish maxis or skirts.

Masaba Gupta launched a large women’s wear denim col­lec­tion in March 2017 that re­flected her char­ac­ter­is­tic trendy youth­ful touches. Cute sack dresses with funky white mo­tifs, maxi pleated skirts, ac­cen­tu­ated with but­tons, drop waist smocks with frilled Tamil al­pha­bet printed hem­lines, dis­tressed pants, printed jack­ets and loose tent dresses were in soft shades of blue denim.

Mayyur Giro­tra goes eth­nic with denim for lehen­gas that are heav­ily

em­broi­dered with a fes­tive scene teamed with a shirt and tank top. He also adds long sleeved shirt­dresses with ele­phant mo­tifs splashed on them, while wide pa­tio pants and cold-shoul­der cropped top in­tri­cately em­bel­lished with an­i­mal de­signs com­plete the look of his denim col­lec­tion.

Sayantan Sarkar’s out­fits have shades of dark grey in denim for asym­met­ric dresses, shirts, jump­suits, pinafores, harem pants and a tiny blouse in ink blue denim that are teamed with fluid checks to give an in­ter­est­ing ap­peal to denim.

Shruti Sancheti loves to ex­per­i­ment and her Ama­zon In­dia Fash­ion Week Col­lec­tion had denim for asym­met­ric midis with strik­ing em­broi­dery. There were full flared anarkalis with long-sleeved boleros and curved hem­line kur­tas with dark blue denim palaz­zos. “I used denim for my Au­tumn/

Win­ter 2016 col­lec­tion. The range was very well re­ceived as I used denim for fu­sion wear as well as In­dian wear rather than lim­it­ing it to just westerns. I also added el­e­ments like tribal and Kash­miri em­broi­dery but kept the soul of the col­lec­tion youth­ful and young. Af­ter that I am reg­u­larly work­ing with denim along with other fab­rics as it does im­part a young and con­tem­po­rary look and ap­peals to a cross sec­tion of buy­ers,” feels Shruti Sancheti.

De­signer Ragini Ahuja’s ‘Ikai’ la­bel has stylish denim for fash­ion­ably belted loose pants that are teamed with a cute denim bralet; while the front but­toned, straight skirts with baggy shirts are splashed with gi­ant multi-coloured ap­pliqués for added fash­ion drama. Her stylish long four- pocket denim lab coats are high­lighted with flo­ral em­broi­dery to give them a

stylish im­pact.

Ra­jesh Pratap Singh’s re­cy­cled denim men’s wear col­lec­tion at Lakme Fash­ion Week Sum­mer/Re­sort 2017 was a feast for the eyes. Churi­dars, kur­tas, baggy wrap pants, boxy shirts, jack­ets, coats, patched reused, re­worked, bombers were part of a col­lec­tion that of­fered lim­it­less men’s wear mix and match op­tions.

Rinku Sobti who loves work­ing with tra­di­tional hand-wo­ven tex­tiles turned to hand-wo­ven denim for her prèt col­lec­tion 22017. “It’s a young look that of­fers smock dresses, mini skirts, tops, long sleeved shirt dresses, shorts, cropped blouses and one shoul­der minis,” re­veals Rinku.

Some de­sign­ers have been more ad­ven­tur­ous as they have moved into the tra­di­tional drape and de­signed denim saris, which have proved im­mensely pop­u­lar. Bol­ly­wood ac­tress Sonam Kapoor sported a denim sari by Masaba Gupta and cre­ated quite a stir at the event.


Denim hasn’t just ex­cited In­dian de­sign­ers but also caused a sen­sa­tion amongst grad­u­at­ing stu­dents who have dab­bled with denim for not only gar­ments but also ac­ces­sories and jew­ellery. At the Le Mar­que 2017 show by the stu­dents of the Le Mark Fash­ion In­sti­tute, denim was the base for an in­ter­est­ing em­broi­dered col­lar, hand­bag and neck­lace cre­ated into mul­ti­ple rows of denim baubles with an im­pres­sive rosette in one cor­ner.

Stu­dents of the B D So­mani In­sti­tute of Art and Fash­ion Tech­nol­ogy have pre­sented daz­zling bridal col­lec­tions of lehen­gas, cho­lis and du­pat­tas with in­tri­cate tex­tur­ing, patch­work and em­broi­dery dur­ing their an­nual shows. The ‘InJea­neous Jodh­pur’ and ‘Mela Mélange’ col­lec­tions brought denim into the bridal wear cat­e­gory in 2016 and 2017.

The denim men’s wear col­lec­tion called ‘Rus­tic Coast’ by the stu­dents was vi­su­alised not only in shades of blue but even beige, brown and rust; while denim kid’s wear has al­ways been a favourite of par­ents and de­sign­ers when it is called ‘Cruise Chaos’ once again de­signed by the stu­dents.


Denim’s ver­sa­til­ity knows no bounds as is ev­i­dent from the way the fab­ric has moved ef­fort­lessly into other gen­res that are quite dif­fer­ent from fash­ion. There is denim used even as up­hol­stery for so­fas and fur­ni­ture that is prov­ing very pop­u­lar in 2017. Kam­dar Pvt Ltd the decades old top fur­ni­ture store in Mum­bai has spe­cially de­signed a sofa with a pair of cush­ions for a dis­cern­ing client. “We made this ex­clu­sively for a cus­tomer who is very par­tic­u­lar about com­fort and style and is par­tial to organic eco-friendly ma­te­rial for fur­ni­ture. It has proved to be one of our most suc­cess­ful de­signs,” states Deepak Grover, Sales Man­ager, Kam­dar Pvt Ltd.

When it comes to soft fur­nish­ing denim scores on all fronts. It looks great as cur­tains, is ideal for ta­ble cloths and nap­kins, as well as run­ners and in its very light weight it looks good even for bed cov­ers.

Rinku Sobti


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