I have never been a fan of wearing jeans. Sure, I’ve been wearing them since my teens. I still wear them when I’m prancing about with my seven-year-old when he’s also wearing jeans. I’ve worn them to the office, I’ve worn them at bars. I’ve worn them to government offices, school plays, PTA meetings and rolled up on sandy beaches too.
Jeans are like that. They are our anytime wardrobe. That’s the best and the worst thing about them. Jeans bring on a certain fashion fatigue.
You wear them because you’re too lazy to put together something else more interesting or chic. You’ll wear them even though you know everyone else will be wearing them. If your fashion choices are meant to express your singularity, why choose a global uniform then?
My argument has been lost on many for the past decade. There are a few people I know who don’t own a pair of denims, but I can count them right across the globe and on one hand.
After China, India is among the biggest manufacturers of denim in the world. But there are barely one or two Indian fashion labels that have experimented with it. Skim through the fashion week-crowd anywhere in the world, the jeans-black-tee combination is a fashion worker’s wardrobe (especially in Paris, where the guests are a sea of black and blue).
But hold it right there: denims no longer smack a lack of imagination.
This summer celebrates denim in new and unusual avatars, and it isn’t just the high street brands peddling them. Chloe has wide denim culottes that cost 200 pounds, The Row has an inventive poplin chambray and voile shirt. Versace’s done a denim shirt for 500 pounds and Marni’s crop top costs 200 pounds. The swishiest are Balmain’s denim dress (1,750 pounds) and their pleated denim skirt (1,200 pounds).
Rajesh Pratap Singh is a self-confessed denim lover and has been experimenting with the twill for the past few years, working closely with Arvind Mills. For his Lakme Fashion Week finale, his most exciting look were jeans worn by the male models with silver and gold woven in the warp of the fabric and denim in the weft. But who can remember what just went past you when showstopper Kareena Kapoor appears?
Designer duo Lecoanet-Hemant is also developing denims at their superbly machined factory.
I have to admit my current favourite is the Khadi Denim line sent out by 11.11, a popular albeit hipster Delhi-based label that showed at Mumbai’s Textile Day. Himanshu Shani and Mia Morikawa, the names behind 11.11, make fabric from yarn entirely by hand, from dyeing to sizing to reeling to warping and weaving. This handloom denim is made from 100 per cent cotton yarn and dyed with natural colours. Their superb collection saw denim shorts, skirts and jeans, with buttons copied from five-rupee coins, and the weaver’s name embroidered on a side pocket.
11.11 shows us a wonderful way to link farmers, weavers and artisans to a modern fashion climate. There could barely be a better choice than denim: the fabric that the world simply can’t have enough of.