Chic headwear: Canadian designer launches trendy line of turbans
Jenn Nguyen launched a trendy line of material for the dastar or Sikh turban after she was influenced by the values of Sikhism while undergoing a personal crisis.world Updated: Nov 15, 2017 22:41 IST
It isn’t every startup that has the benefit of a public pitch for their product by a leader of a national political party. But that‘s exactly what Jenn Nguyen, a designer based in Calgary city in the Canadian province of Alberta, scored after she launched her new venture this summer.
The product happens to be material for the Sikh turban, or dastar, in colourful and unique prints, designed by 32-year-old Nguyen. Her enterprise is fittingly called Trendy Singh, and may be a pioneer of sorts in Canada in this segment of Sikh chic.
And the support came from Jagmeet Singh, who was elected leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) in October. In an Instagram post, Singh gave a shout out to her line while his brother, Gurratan Singh, has appeared as a model for it.
Nguyen launched the online outlet this summer, featuring a variety of limited edition turbans in floral, camo and static designs.
She came up with the “idea of combining art with dastars” as she was influenced by the “values” of Sikhism, which to her were “very beautiful, what it represents on a universal basis, standing up for what is right”.
The first design on offer had 250 metres of turban material in voile, at a cost of CA $7 per metre. More prints followed and three more will be available soon. In addition, she recently introduced accessories such as cufflinks, lapel pins and collar studs, each with a Sikh-related motif.
“The overall response has been very positive,” Nguyen, who is of Vietnamese origin, said.
More importantly, by giving a fashionable touch to the turban, she wanted to use art as a conversation starter over religious headwear that’s still viewed with concern by some in Canada: “It’s something that can create a conversation. Fashion is a good medium, and not threatening to people. I feel like it breaks a barrier, though some people say it’s disrespectful.
“People think trends and fashion as very superficial. But I’m not trying to go for consumerism. I want to show people how they (Sikhs) truly are,” she said.
All profits from Trendy Singh are earmarked for Sikh charities.
Nguyen isn’t a Sikh. However, while undergoing a personal crisis caused by loss, she was introduced to a gurdwara by a friend while “finding ways to heal”. She found the Sikh community to be “accepting”. That started a connection with the community she has maintained, leading to this particular project.
The fabric for the turbans is sourced from India, where Nguyen’s designs are hand printed by traditional craftsfolk in Rajasthan.
And while she is focused on taking Trendy Singh to the United States and the United Kingdom next, “it's definitely a consideration to sell in India”, she said.
But feedback she has received underscores how many customers don’t associate her with this venture. “Most people think I’m a Sikh guy!” she said with a laugh.
First Published: Nov 15, 2017 19:01 IST