IN ALL ERAS AND LATITUDES, FABRICS HAVE BEEN A CONSTANT IN HUMAN ENVIRONMENT, WITH ‘DENIM’ BEING A KEYWORD OF OUR TIME. IT DEFINES THE HUMAN RACE, OUR CAPACITY TO PROGRESS AND INNOVATE. THE PRESENT-DAY TEXTILE WORLD REFLECTS A RISING ENDEAVOUR TO MIX THE CLASSIC WITH A NEW AIR OF TECHNOLOGICAL MODERNITY.
Denim transgresses varied aspects including newer technologies, changing consumer psychologies and different style configurations. Denim trends exist in a fast-changing and dynamic space, boundaries of which are continually being altered. Looking beyond the archetypal ‘London Blue Jeans’, this article looks at the employment of denim in the Indian gallery.
In India, the civil society is witnessing a plurality of perspectives that control the definitives of fashion. India’s tryst with denim in the metro cities and across the hinterland has been evident in the recent societal uprising of sorts. Announcing denim as the ‘fabric for change’, tens and thousands of young protesters clad in denims fought the government’s superintendence at India Gate in 2012 in the Nirbhaya gang rape case. So, is denim the new khadi? The answer is yet to be written.
As the search for an answer to this pertinent question continues, fabric technologists and engineers have embraced this style indication rather preparedly. Rajkot-based Saurashtra Rachnatmak Samiti (SRS) introduced khadi-denim in the market, which has found many takers. Under the special scheme of SFURTI (Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries) launched by the Khadi & Village Industries Commission, a special centre was set up at Limbdi (Gujarat) for development of new varieties of khadi that includes khadi-denim. In ways more than one, awareness of Indian fashion and its ancillaries has never been greater. The kurta has gone global. Stella McCartney, Celine and Sportmax have displayed the Indian wardrobe staple in its modern avatar in their runway showings.
Quintessentially Indian, the kurta has seen a rebirth and evolved out of a complex ‘culture cross’. Containing the all-powerful trilogy of style, functionality and newness, the denim kurta is topping the fashion charts. The word ‘kurta’ is a borrowing from Hindustani and originally from Persian. Literally meaning ‘a collarless shirt’, it was first used in English in the 20th century. With close similarity with the Arabic Thwab, the kurta, initially donned by the men, is now quite a regular ingredient in womenswear.
Apart from lower bifurcates, denim trends are witnessing newer style cursors. Breaking the stereotype, denim kurtas are riding the high tide of success and popularity. From embroidered to pleated, from maxi to slim, from symmetric to asymmetric, denim kurta versions are aplenty in the Indian style expedition. The denim kurta recalibrates itself from daywear to eveningwear with ease. Reflecting cross-border camaraderie, inspiration can be sought from Adnan Pardesy’s Pakistani label ‘WW – Working Woman’. Brand ambassador, musician, Zoe Viccaji flaunts a flared, multi-panel denim piece that swings from the working desk into evening glam with a mere change in accessories. Newer blends with lyocell and tencel are redefining the use and feel of denim. Also termed as ‘summer denim’, the material is being perceived as ‘second skin’ by image consultants and stylists. During its starting years, denim was tough against the skin.
However, today, it is no longer heavy and uncomfortable. Denim blends with lyocell and tencel are soft, smooth and they drape well. Denim has been deftly engineered into a fashion tool. Apart from Indian chains such as Westside, W, Lifestyle, Shoppers Stop and Pantaloons, online galleries of Myntra, Biba, Jabong, and Amazon.in are all indicative of different versions of the denim kurta.
The denim kurta is upheld as the chameleon – it adapts to the body, conceals the unwanted and lends a mark of femininity. It is highly recommended as it fulfils all one’s fashion needs. Select a structured option if you are on the petite side.
Accessorise it with a skinny braided belt and stilettos for the evening. For those who are wary of the ethnic look, try it with cropped slacks and gladiator shoes for a laid-back appearance.
Leaner and fitter editions can be achieved with Lycra- ncorporated denim weights (stretch denim).
With technological advancements, the newer grades of denim are making the material most fit for maternitywear. Denim kurta-dress with empire waistlines coupled with tie-me-up strings is doing well. Felt patches, peeled-off pockets showing the colour value variation, beads held by running stitch, smocking patterns, lace incorporations, part-knit panels, tassels with pom-poms, etc. make an entry in this category.
Denim immersed in dye bath with different techniques has always garnered interest among fashion enthusiasts. Dip-dyed denim to create ‘mock block’ look is also popular. Tie and dye techniques in engineered and all-over patterns are remarkable in denim kurtas. Apart from D3 (deep dyed denim), an inclusion of vibrant pop tones compliments the desi tray.
A KURTA IS TYPICALLY CONSTRUCTED WITH RECTANGULAR FABRIC PIECES WITH PERHAPS A FEW GUSSET INSERTS, AND IS CUT SO AS TO LEAVE NO WASTED FABRIC
A kurta is typically constructed with rectangular fabric pieces with perhaps a few gusset inserts, and is cut so as to leave no wasted fabric. The cut is usually simple, although decorative treatments can be elaborate. The sleeves of a traditional kurta fall straight to the wrist; they do not narrow and the sleeves are not cuffed; they are hemmed and decorated. The side seams are left open for 6–12 inches above the hem, which gives the wearer some ease of movement.
In denim, the kurta can have many variants. Style connoisseurs should realise the full potential of the fabric. Reminiscent of the ‘Wild West’, let the frayed edges rule supreme.
Today, fashion expresses itself in an emphatically individualistic way. Choose what you like. Allow the frayed edges to sit pretty on the button plackets, slit openings, style lines and panels. Orthonormal spread of the ‘frays’ can heighten the visual appeal of the kurta.
In reaction to grandeur, and to excessive ornamentation, a spirit of modernity and notion of rigour distinguish the denim kurta. Stencils generated with cutwork make this Indian ticket scale high. Stencils outlined with pop tones spread over front and back yokes, kurta hems, sleeve edges, or in vertical panels celebrate femininity with an unsaid revelation.
Wearability and comfort have become an inherent part of the fashion industry. The process of apparel designing is defined as the method that delivers ‘high-level comfort’ clothing.
The denim kurta with its properties of excellent heat conductivity, absorbency and extreme comfort, this style is all pervading. And, yes, it is no longer for the rebel chic.