The world of fashion is such that one can’t relate to it without the chic and glamour that invariably tags along.
Vivid conceptualisations, glitzy clothes, swanky models and glamorous clientele—this is haute couture (high fashion) wrapped up in a nutshell!
With that thought taking root in your mind, now imagine a group of plain looking simpletons who don’t fall under the conventional description of models, carrying it off like a professional. Not something you see in the mainstream, isn’t it?
Talking about fashion, have you ever come across Khadi Denims?
One young man from Kerala is reinventing the concept of fashion with an infuse of desi elements and some unique models. The models flashing these clothes are none other than common people with no absolute hint of makeup on their visage!
DesiTude took form in 2016 by Siddharth Mohan Nair purely by chance. An energy and environmental engineer and now a law student, the Palakkad native has been a Khadi practitioner for over five years now.
“It all began with a trip to Delhi as part of my engineering days in 2011. It was around the same time when Anna Hazare was staging protests against corruption and vehemently advocating the use of Khadi and swadeshi products. His words made such a long lasting impact on me that it ended up making me switch to Khadi,” says Siddharth to The Better India.
Until last year, even Siddharth had no clue that denim could be a Khadi product.
“I came to know about an exhibition hosted by Mumbai Khadi Bhandar where Khadi denims were on display. Unfortunately, by the time I could make it to the venue, the event had already concluded. But the idea sounded ingenious and it sparked off my curiosity,” he laughs.
This led Siddharth to Rajkot in Gujarat, where he met an organisation that specialised in denim that is hand woven. Since they only spun fabrics, Siddharth bought a dole of Khadi denim with the idea of fashioning it into a pair of jeans.
“After getting it stitched by a tailor in my hometown, I showcased the ‘swadeshi’ jeans to my friends. The response I got from them was so overwhelming that I decided to take it a step further and created a page on Facebook,” he mentions.
With a self-designed logo, the DesiTude page took flight and started garnering a lot of attention.
“While Khadi clothes and fabrics are slowly coming back in vogue, who would have ever thought of Khadi denims? The idea seemed appealing to a lot of people and soon I had started getting a lot of orders,” Siddharth says.
And no place could have been better than Mumbai, the city where he is currently based and operating from.
“Tailoring denim fabric proved to be difficult for small town tailors who weren’t well equipped. And hence, I moved to Mumbai where I was able to find a couple of tailors who cut and stitched such fabrics. Since then, there has been no looking back,” he explains.
It was when he decided to make a website for DesiTude a few months ago that the thought of bringing in models to showcase his clothes came up.
“Right from the start, I was quite particular that just like how Khadi was simple and common, so would be the people who were garbed in it. And yes, no makeup that takes away the natural element in a person”, he adds.
This proved a little difficult, as most photographers were not too happy with his concept. “But, things have a way of working out and I met this amazing photographer, Anjali Gopan who had an illustrious career but was intrigued by the idea,” Siddharth says.
Starting with many of Anjali’s friends – that included college students, artists and theatre personalities – the duo soon came up with the idea of using people from different regions.
“And thus migrant labourers became part of the project. Interestingly, when we approached them, their happiness knew no bounds. For them, it was more of an acceptance that they were yet to find amidst the masses in Kerala”, he happily says.
And one has to believe Siddharth’s words because all of these ‘models’ don’t look like first-timers in any way!
Other members of the photo-shoot include Anjali’s house help and an 84-year-old ‘young’ lady who were sporty enough to support DesiTude and carry off the outfits with remarkable attitude!
Along with promoting Khadi and swadeshi products, Siddharth has also taken up amazing initiatives.
“With every DesiTude product sold, I make it a point to plant a sapling in my hometown. This had been a practice I’d taken up few years back where every year on my birthday I planted a sapling. So I thought when the whole concept of Khadi was environment-friendly, why not couple the both”, he mentions.
Also, Siddharth keeps aside a portion of the profits that he makes from the sale of each product.
“While conglomerates and organisations have different CSR activities as their way of giving back to the society, I decided to do something as a give back too – 10 per cent from the sale of every product for different social initiatives”, he explains.
Collaborating with a Kudumbasree group in Kochi, Siddharth uses the money to help supply sanitary napkins for children in orphanages. “There is a lot more that I want to do towards raising menstrual awareness and advocating practices that are environment-friendly. I’m working on how to go about it”, he adds.
In collaboration with Aakar Innovations, The Better India is setting up a sanitary pad manufacturing unit in Ajmer, Rajasthan, that will not only produce eco-friendly or biodegradable sanitary pads, but will also employ women from rural communities around the area.
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Starting with only Khadi denims, DesiTude now offers regular Khadi apparel as well. Taking the cue from the brand’s caption, you can check these clothes that have the ‘spirit of independence since 1947’ on the website.
You can reach out to Siddharth on firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 8072766954.