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Sagging pants stir debate in India

Sagging pants are a hit with youths who see it as a way to flaunt their colourful boxer shorts, designer underwear and even skin - never mind the frowns from the conservative lot.

fashion and trends Updated: Apr 20, 2009 15:30 IST

It is a 'low' that youngsters in Indian metros think is cool. Sagging pants are a hit with youths who see it as a way to flaunt their colourful boxer shorts, designer underwear and even skin - never mind the frowns from the conservative lot. Ask Delhi resident Nitin Handa, 25, who loves to wear his jeans below the navel so that he can show off his underwear.

"When people can flaunt their international bags or shoes with elan, what's wrong in showing off the logo of your branded underwear? Gone are the days when people used to be casual about their briefs!" Handa told IANS.

Harshit Goyal, a college student, said: "Whenever I walk on the road with these droopy pants, I know that I am getting attention from everyone. I look very cool and different. I don't care what is the latest fashion, I prefer to follow my own style and make my own style statement," he added.

American history reveals there was a close connection between sagging pants and prisoners in jail. The prisoners were not allowed to wear belts because the accessory was a means for jail birds to hang themselves or use it as a weapon. The absence of the belt thus led to low waist pants.

Today the fashion of sagging pants is associated with hip-hop artists who are hot favourites among people in the 16-25 age bracket.

"I am a a big hip-hop fan and wearing sagging pants is my way of imitating them and showing that I am a music lover," admits Goyal.

But in India, most parts of which remain conservative even today, sagging pants are often frowned upon as indecent. Can they lead to a clash between freedom of expression and the law against obscenity?

"As far as briefs are concerned, there is nothing objectionable about them unless and until they cross objectionable lines," senior advocate and former law minister Shanti Bhushan told IANS.

Kolkata-based lawyer Abhratosh Majumdar echoed his view. "As far as the issue of sagging pants is concerned, unless it is glaringly indecent as per the set norms in India, any restriction on one's choice of attire must be held as unconstitutional," he said on phone.

So then what is 'indecent' in terms of the law?

"The concept of 'decency' changes with time. What was indecent a few decades ago, may not be that bad now. Once the sleeveless blouse was considered indecent. Now it is not frowned upon," explained advocate Malini Ghosh.

At the same time, she said: "Youngsters may find some of the legal restrictions draconian and dated, but in the name of freedom of expression, we cannot allow acts, gestures and events that will violate the sensibilities of others."

And so the debate rages on.

Shobhit Gupta, a college student, said: "I don't think there is anything indecent about it. We are not revealing our derri?re. So the question of indecency doesn't arise. We have the freedom to wear whatever we want and are exercising our right."

Many parents don't agree and say such clothes are a source of embarrassment.

Said Ravinder Dhar: "Sagging pants look indecent. I don't understand why today's generation is into such clothes. You look good when you are dressed properly, but for the younger lot it is the opposite. Sometimes it's embarrassing. What if you have to introduce these kids to relatives!" .