The world of fashion has changed its dimensions.
The brush that once pleased art enthusiasts is now fashion lovers' delight, making art on walls passé. As new canvases are being discovered by the artists, fashion is being transformed to its very core. In short, eccentric is the new quirky. The best part is that the world of fashion and markets have welcomed this idiosyncratic art attack with open arms.
Let's meet the brains and brands that chose to go beyond the regular themes and left everyone gobsmacked and asking for more.
A push in the right direction
You wouldn't consider Push Me Pull You to be an unusual name for a brand if you learnt about the chemistry shared by the two girls who created it. Born with opposing mindsets, Kawleen Singh, 28, and Nidhi Jalwal, 24, were united by a desire to start their own venture after passing out from NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology), Delhi, where they specialised in leather designing.
"We always knew that though a job would offer us stability, our creativity might get killed. So, I bid farewell to my job in an export house, collected money and started Push Me Pull You in April 2011," says Kawleen. Nidhi has since parted ways, but the accessories and stationery items' brand continues to churn out scarves, totes, handbags, sling bags, notebooks and laptop sleeves with the caricatures of, amongst others, an aunty-next-door, a grinning Sikh gentleman, a Swamiji or the devil himself.
Kawleen laughingly tells us that the brand has been named after one of the characters from the children's book on Doctor Dolittle - 'Pushmi-pullyu'. In keeping with the name, the mascot of Kawleen's brand is an animal with two heads, one with a smile and the other with a grin.
"These days, life is becoming so monotonous due to stress. So, why should the products that we use everyday highlight the same? Why should a laptop sleeve be black, white or purple? Why should a scarf only have flowers? The quirky emoticons on our products will definitely bring a smile on your face," she promises.
Priced from as little as R50 to R4,000, the products are economical too. Kawleen says she strongly believes that: "Whatever may be your style, Push Me Pull You is a must-have for everyone!"
Let's have a tee party!
A look at Angel Bedi's designs from her label TheFilmyOwl and you realise how clothes and accessories can act as instant perk-me-ups. From film dialogues to everyday slang used by urban college-goers, the Delhi girl's brand keeps the fun factor high on its t-shirts, scarves, bags, wall hangings and even pyjamas - all hand painted, by the way.
"All I want my brand to do is to make people smile," says Angel, 27, who confesses to have been "very confused" about what she wanted from life after graduating from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi. "With so many things in my mind, I finally narrowed down my confusions, took a year off and started to paint and doodle.
In no time, I had invites to exhibitions and opportunities to freelance," she smiles.
TheFilmyOwl is all about funny, silly things filled with happy colours, says Angel, who finds inspiration in everyday happenings. According to her, the brand is "a bit too filmy." And by filmy, she is not alluding to cinema alone. Being a Punjabi, Angel says she has kept her connection with her roots strong by working on a line of products that specialises in large doses of Punjabi humour.
Angel's products range between R100 and R1,000 - catering especially to students, with the Punjabi population comprising the largest chunk of her clientele - and are sold through various online portals as well as her Facebook page. However, illustrations and wallpaper prices are on request. "Though I am only a year old in the market, the future looks bright with Indian contemporary and quirky design poised to grow. However, the onus of taking this business to greater heights without compromising on the actual characteristics lies on us," says Angel.
The inside story
They came out of the closet some years ago and now it's time to give them a makeover. We're talking about men's inner wear such as shorts and boxers. The bravehearts who took it upon themselves to transform men's lounge wear are Brijesh Dahiya, 28, a NIFT alumnus, and Kuldeep Singh, 27, a software engineer.
Their vision then took on the mantle of CheapSex Boxers, a label that their company Gulabo Chhap Design started in 2010 to add a dash of handwork through sketches and paints.
All about pun-intended humour, CheapSex takes inspiration from local Indian themes and creates art from salacious adult content and twisted visual ideology. As designers, Brijesh and Kuldeep take pride in their edgy graphic sensibility and stand out with their unique statement.
"The idea behind our design is not some deep design philosophy. It's just a pun-based outlook. We flirt with every possible idea, as we want our customers to stand out from the crowd. CheapSex boxer shorts are our hot-sellers, though we have gradually added products such as t-shirts, wallets, playing cards, eye-masks, cushions and briefs to our design range," says Brijesh.
Many might consider such products to be shoddy and brazen, but it is in fact the 'shoddy touch' that has worked so well for the brand. Selling more than 500 boxers every month via 20 stores across India apart from their website, Facebook page and online stores and exhibitions accounts for the Faridabad boys' profits.
While their boxers are priced at R700, their t-shirts are affordable at R800-R900 and their latest and very successful CheapSex eye masks come at a base price of R500. "People presume that we are Punjabis because of the high humour element in our designs. Though we are Haryanvis, we have a strong connect with Punjab, especially because of the huge response we get from cities like Chandigarh and Ludhiana. Young Punjabis have a bold taste and that is why our work sells well there. In fact, we will soon be opening our first retail store in Punjab," Brijesh tells us.
If it's mundane, it's not life
Did it ever strike you that flasks, canvas shoes, pocket timepieces, Royal Enfield fuel tanks, telephones, helmets - everyday items that you use without giving a second thought, don't have to look as boring as they do? Rohit Kant believes that every product has an interesting story that can be narrated only through art, illustrations and sketches. He therefore unleashes his creative genius on the most mundane of products to turn them into charming possessions of pride.
An alumnus of NIFT, Delhi, Rohit, 27, ditched the glam lifestyle of fashion designers and made customisation of household articles his forte. "It's about adding respect, peace and love to a product and giving it a totally new meaning and identity. Hand painting is too pure to be called a"trend". It is actually more of a thought process. The art lies in the technique," he says. The trend of customisation is growing rapidly, feels Rohit, "as everyone wants to own something that is supremely exclusive to his or her personality and is closer to them at the level of the soul."
Though vintage telephones and helmets customised by Rohit don't come cheap at R12,800; ties, flasks, pocket timepieces and bags are more affordable in the price range of R1,200-R7,980.
His fashion and lifestyle label, By Rohit Kant, is unconventional, with a splash of dramatic colours and ideas that are out-of-the-box. "All my work is strongly based on what I perceive from the surroundings, experiences, vibes and energies," announces Rohit.
Accessory designer Rohan Arora's shoes have been worn by fashion showstoppers for many celebrated designers. What's special about them is not just their high comfort factor, but also what is on them - all of them being hand painted in unique motifs.
A commerce graduate from St. Xavier's College, Kolkata,
28-year-old Rohan initially had no plans of getting into accessory designing. But, when it clicked, there was no looking back for him. "I think fashion is all about expressing oneself. For me, designing is only a medium.
While designing shoes, I needed something to express myself better and I found that hand painting is appropriate. So, for my collection that was showcased at the Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2010, I presented shoes with posters of films painted on them by hand. It was a serious step from my side to revive the art of hand painted posters, an art that is slowly dying," says Rohan.
Interestingly, Rohan's specialty is painting on Punjabi juttis, he reveals. "Being a Punjabi, I have kept my roots alive by designing juttis, which are popular amongst not just Punjabis but also non-Punjabis. Though the Punjabi jutti market in Punjab is huge, my juttis and shoes have got a huge response from people here in Kolkata," smiles Rohan, whose shoes cost anything between R2,000 and R20,000. The designer currently retails online, through his Facebook page and through designer stores in Punjab and Chandigarh such as The Rashi Kapoor at Ranjit Avenue in Amritsar and Designer Couture, Chandigarh.
Now that Rohan is established in the shoe design sector, he has ventured into creating versatile and quirky women's hair accessories as well. Products such as hair clips with birds and butterflies hand painted on them are a hit with young girls. The best part about these accessories is that they are versatile - you can easily clip them onto your shoes or pin them to your dress for that extra oomph factor!