‘High Street’ Game! Here’s how three labels tapped & shaped the Indian streetwear market big way

by Shubhi Srivastava

13-December-2018  |  14 mins read

The winds of streetwear shook the global fashion industry in the year 2014 with the rise of athleisure deeply strewn in the influence of street. The sneaker revolution kicked off street’s rise as the global sneaker market was up by 10% in 2017 to US $ 4 billion as per edited.com. Even luxury market struggled against streetwear before giving in to it as several luxury houses painted the runways with sharp colours of streetwear and hired streetwear designers and creative directors such as Demna at Balenciaga and Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton.

India is yet to find its own language of streetwear as the booming  culture is solely emblematic of the rise of the international street brands. H&M reported a growth of 40% as per economictimes.com in India, while Inditex Trent (Zara) saw a revenue increase of 19% to Rs. 1,221.67 crore in 2017-18.

Apparel Resources team met with three designers who lie in the section that bridges the gap between RTW and luxury, shaping the Indian market with their unique norms of street to make the Indian streetwear scenario more than just a mere shadow of the international streetwear trends.

The three creative minds come from different backgrounds but believe vastly in the power of networking and social interaction. Harnessing the same power, gave them the platform to express their ideas and designs in the dynamic and competitive Indian Fashion industry.

Abhishek Paatni, Founder, Nought One

Being one of the top streetwear labels in India with an early success on the runway, Nought One is a high street fashion label that showcases the perfect amalgamation of active and streetwear. The founder of this unique brand, Abhishek Paatni was an engineer who started off with styling and got the hang of fashion while coordinating fashion shows and styling menswear clothing label Mr. Buttons.

He parted ways with the brand to start his own venture, Nought One, which he launched with the aid of a closely-knit group of friends and colleagues in Shahpur Jat. Paatni had a sense of fashion that was aggressive as he paired tights and shorts with blazers in 2014 which is a projected trend for 2019 as well. With a small in-house production unit, the brand received its first achievement after being selected as one of the Gennext brands at Lakmé Fashion Week for A/W 2015. Talking about the push it gave the brand, Paatni says, “We met Mr. VIjayan Bhardawaj from GQ in the Lakmé panel. He really liked my designs, got me into the GQ magazine with just 8 looks- then we were a success at India Fashion Week too.”

Nought One is a brand that is utilizing hardware and industrial inspired trends such as buckles on their signature tone-on-tone looks.

“We take trends from the past and transform it for today. This is our foundation- traditional turned contemporary. For our last show, we took plaids and herringbones and mixed them with ribbed fabric, fastener trims etc to make it street. We rise up from a vest to a t-shirt to a bulletproof jacket heavy quilting. In fact, we actually made a utility-inspired jacket- a bomber integrated with a backpack detail on the back. We are now expanding our product range to include womenswear as an extension to our menswear line for SS 2019 which is why LMIFW SS’19 was a huge thing for us.” – Abhishek Paatni, Founder, Nought One

Retailed via Instagram and outlets such as Aza and Mumbai-based Curato, the prices of the products lie well within the norms of young enthusiasts willing to invest in fashion. Paatni mentions, “We start 6500-7000 to 35-40,000 bucks. You will be shocked that brands sell cotton hoodie for 60,000. We in-turn think that quality matters- if cost is high the value addition would be of highest quality. Zero dot Zero, my other brand that caters to the masses, can work for college kids as they form the most important segment.”

Shia Rai, founder of her namesake label, Shia Rai

Shia Rai

Still a young brand, Shia Rai has already made a mark in the Indian Streetwear scenario being identified as one of the shapers of the industry by several street bigwigs. Not belonging to a core fashion background, Shia rose to popularity harnessing the power of social media.

“India has a lot to offer when it comes to luxury wear highlighting beautiful ethnic aesthetics but I never really related to it. This made me start Shia Rai label, a luxe streetwear brand as quality is the champion for us. This is completely my own take on styling.” – Shia Rai, founder of her namesake label, Shia Rai

Starting off with a single-room production unit with just two workers, the label has seen both national and international demands based out of South-East Asia as the silhouettes are very oriental and Korean-inspired. The social media platforms gave a kickstart to the brand’s initial sales. She does all her sourcing herself too. “I used to source from everywhere possible. For embroidered fabrics I go to Lajpat Nagar and Kotla, for imported fabrics go to Nehru Place and for slightly cheaper prices Govindpuri is also good. Seelampur is a little limited. I go to Karol Bagh for faux leather and Rexene,” she says.

The brand deals with all ranges of apparel from pants, shirts to tunics and track pants of both menswear and womenswear. “I always go for chic athleisure as you can wear the garments with heels or sneakers. I make Kimono jackets that are reversible along with multi-styled dresses.  I believe that I should go for something that serves several purposes at once. The price points remain very accessible too, as I want everyone to be a part of street culture in India”, Shia adds.

Rishabh Chadha, Founder, Natty Garb

Natty Garb

Still a design student at NIFT, Rishabh is a young designer whose retail journey started with the most influential part of social networking- fashion blogging. Being a student of Leather Design, he had access to several accessories and leather artisans. He gives the credit of the birth of his label, Natty Garb, to a friend who was willing to produce his styled ensembles and designs on sampling basis. This made him avoid heavy charges levied by mass manufacturers on small order quantities. The brand was a mixed effort of his family and friends along with the profits and contacts made through his blogging ventures.

“Natty Garb means “a proper ensemble”, a very different ensemble. My inspiration was street culture but something that can be commercially used as western street style can’t be worn on the streets of Delhi or India. An Indian version of streetwear. This is how I started. – Rishabh Chadha, Founder, Natty Garb

The label’s USP lies in mixing of various global ethnicities with core streetwear. He talks about his latest collection, which was a streetwear take on the Mughal culture, saying, “I fused Mughal kurtas with streetwear by using pockets differently. I even experimented at the fabric level by re-imagining womenswear materials to conform them to menswear. My recent fabric explorations include lighter fabrics like tissue and tulle fused with heavy GSM velvet finished off with embroidery to give the fabrics some structure.” The product mix comprises of jackets, joggers, shorts, and is now expanding to shoes, starting with 15 pairs in one collection. They also plan on adding bags, duffle bags, pouches and accessories- customized ties, buttons, scarves, etc.

The label received early fame without any extra PR initiatives being recognized by several celebrity stylists looking for offbeat outfits for their clients. “This was all due to my presence in Social Media and campaign shoots” as per Rishabh. It also saw rewarding representation on the runways of Asian Designer Fashion Week and now successfully retails via COMO in Goa, 9 by 12 Couture in Kolkata with three more offline ventures in the pipeline.

STREETWEAR TRENDS TO LOOK OUT FOR

As per Shia Rai, colours such as popping and muted with a rich opulence feel to them will flourish and silhouette modifications such as cutouts, ruched, asymmetry will make a mark. Abhishek Paatni believes that mix of volumes will be a huge trend next season, where outerwear of 4-5 sizes up will be set against fitted bottoms and the oversize trend will go towards formals especially drop shoulders. On the prints front, Rishabh Chadha projects bright stripes and moody tropicals and florals or a mix of prints.

THERE IS NO AGE BAR IN STREETWEAR

Streetwear designers and retailers mostly target the youngsters as they are the ones directly corresponding to the global fashion evolution, but this isn’t what the designers feel. All three have seen different age groups adorn their garments and carry them perfectly. Paatni says, “After a struggle of many years people are now embracing street culture you can see how sneakers are revolutionized in India too. It can be anyone- a man of age 45 to 50 or college kids.” To this, Rishabh adds that, “People who like my stuff, take it so it is anyone who wants to dress very differently. People in 70s wear clothes in Fashion Weeks that even 20 year olds can’t carry.”

STREETWEAR IN INDIA

On being asked about their take on the Indian streetwear scenario, the designers deemed the Indian market poised for growth as the influx of international trends is much faster than it was ever before. “The market is booming. For example, Majnu Ka Teela is a popular market which is now flooding with so many counterfeits such as Supreme and Balenciaga so you can see the international streetwear demand is on the rise,” says Shia Rai. However, Rishabh shows concern over how the Indian streetwear segment is losing its identity, “Indian market has to mould street according to India. Like a simple kurta can be styled within the norms of street. Indian streetwear should be unique and known for its own streetstyle.”

Thus, to capture the Indian streetwear market, Abhishek Paatni shared the idea of educating the consumers, “India is in a very revolutionary stage right now- it is open to change so it is up to us to provide it with substantial content that leaves a mark and sets the foundation for streetwear. We need to make the customers aware and talk about streetwear as a collective culture.”

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