DENIM OFF THE BEATEN PATH
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.
HAUTE STEPPING DENIM
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.
DENIM ARM CANDY
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.
DESIGNERS’ DENIM DIRECTIONS
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
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.
STUDENTS’ DENIM DRAMA
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.
RELAXED DENIM COMFORT
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.