For Sikh men, the turban is their crown. The regal headgear that symbolises courage and dignity has also created a unique place for Sikhs in the fashion world — right from global fashion legends dedicating their entire collection to Sikh chic to the most good looking men in Bollywood vouching for Sardar swag. As actor Akshay Kumar rocks a fearlessly gilded, disco-perfect turban in his latest hit, Singh is Bliing, we pay a tribute to the distinct and innate style of famous Sikh fashion bloggers and models, who have proved that religious identity and fashion can coexist and complement each other.
The rise and rise of the turbanators
Some of the most inspiring men in the world of fashion happen to be turbaned and bearded Sikhs. One such style icon, London based blogger/ model Pardeep Singh Bahra deserves an applause for putting Sikh chic on the global fashion radar. His blog Singh-Street-Style. com has been featured in almost every international fashion publication. Bahra has come a long way from attracting the “wrong kind of attention” on the street to inspiring millions to imaginatively pair turbans with fashion wear and showcase their individuality. The Sikh who has modelled for leading global brands says that turbans are a great way to showcase your innate style. “My blog aims to normalize the image of a man with a turban and a beard. Turbans and style go together very well, more so if you want to be yourself. One does not jeopardise the integrity of the other,” says Bahra, who was the first Sikh model to do an H&M ad.
We also have London based artist Jatinder Singh Durhailay who has modelled for brands such as Louis Vuitton (he was the first turbaned Sikh to model for the brand), Levis and Adidas. “My turban is my crown, and so is the hair on my head. It’s my way to express myself, and my values,” says the artist who is a creative director’s dream come true with his bold neon turbans, kohl-lined eyes and rugged-meets-kitsch style sense.
US based jewellery designer / actor/model Waris Singh Ahluwalia is yet another turbaned Sikh who has earned himself a cult following among fashionable men across the world. It didn’t take much time for Ahluwalia to make it to the list of best dressed men in US. The guy who is always impeccably dressed (dapper suits, signature black turban, chic bowties and stylishly contrasting pocket squares define his style) has been widely covered by leading fashion magazines, and is a fashion inspiration for men across the globe.
Turbans on the runway
From Jean Paul Gaultier to Karl Lagerfeld and Vera Wang, we have seen the biggest names in the fashion world present their take on turbans. Last year, designer Jeetinder Sandhu showed off his collection during the London Fashion Week. Jeetinder paired his creations with turbans ranging from kitschy neon to chic white, teamed with jewelled brooches. “There is a global trend that has seen turbans gain prominence in the fashion world in the recent few years. Turbans make a great fashion statement. There are endless option of colours, prints and styles. Turbans add class and character to a man’s look,” says Sandhu.
Closer home, we see a growing number of turbaned and bearded Sikh men who are bagging prestigious modelling assignments. Pushpender Singh, director of Sardar Models, a Delhi based modelling agency says, “Sikh men in the city are making their presence felt in the fashion world. It’s great to see these young men get good work without having to compromise on their cultural identity,” says Singh. One such gamechanger is model Tejeshwar Singh who was warned by many that being a bearded, turbaned Sikh would make his path challenging in the fiercely competitive modelling world. “It was tough to get work in the beginning. A turbaned Sikh model wasn’t the first choice for many people. Some suggested chucking the turban and beard. But I stuck to my guns and soon I saw a shift in the attitude. Agencies started to see a certain USP in me as I could add an element of quaint in the pictures with my colourful turbans,” says Singh, who has modelled for many leading brands in the country, and has inspired many non-Sikh men to wear turbans.
It’s a girl’s thing too!
Amritdhari Sikh fashion blogger, Karan Preet Kaur, from Sydney, Australia, the only turbaned Sikh woman to have launched an Instagram fashion blog, has successfully proved how religion and fashion can complement each other. Kaur’s pop coloured and printed turbans add a touch of fun and whimsy to her style.
“My dastaar is the first thing people notice about me. I match my dastaar colour to whatever outfit I wear,” says the fashion blogger who believes that being fashionable doesn’t always mean that you need to follow trends. “You can always be the trend setter, and that’s what I wish to convey through my blog,” says Kaur.