Sunday, July 1, 2018

All in our Jeans

Picture Credit Topshop

Someone asked a businessman, “What do you do?” 

He smiled, “Whatever it takes.” 

In a jeaneus masterstroke, Baba Ramdev is all set to launch his clothing brand, Patanjali Paridhan. If ‘swadeshi sim card’ was not enough, Patanjali is about to flood the markets with their ‘sanskari jeans’. Patanjali’s Acharya Balkrishan says, “Swadeshi jeans will be designed according to our customs.” Business is incidental, for the aim is to redeem our culture, preserve its sanctity with indigenousness duly certified. 

I kid thee not, but I have been scratching my head ever since. Weren’t the denims all about expressing rebellion – a symbol of defiance? I’m not sure how the cultural denim pants will hug our pert derrieres in a sanskari way. I’m not sure if they will have any ‘Left’ pockets or smell of chandan to drive away risqué thoughts. Perhaps the cultural version will come with a drawstring instead of zippers which are a reminder of our zipped up colonial past. I’m not sure if their brand ambassador will be Alok Nath or Shilpa Shetty, but what I’m sure is that the desi denims will be so pure and pious that even if Twinkle Khanna tries to unbutton them during a fashion event, she won’t be slapped with charges of obscenity or vulgarity. Even better, this Paridhan will purge prurient thoughts that knock your head when you watch Italian football players. Above all, these denims will not be responsible for the age old legend of girls luring boys to their downfall. Yes sir, that good. 

“I wish I had invented blue jeans. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity – all I hope for in my clothes,” rued Yves Saint Laurent. Truth is, denims were originally invented by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss, who according to Rahul Gandhi, could well have been small time tailors engaged in altering clothes at the Lajpat Nagar market. Right? Well, partially. While Levi Strauss arrived from Germany to San Francisco and set up Levi Strauss & Co that sold denim cloth, W Davis, was a tailor who actually made blankets and tents. When a customer asked for a pair of sturdy pants, Davis used the denim he bought from Levi Strauss & Co. Later, Davis and Strauss patented the pants and called them denim jeans. 

As it happens, fashion becomes fashion when everyone wants to follow it. If the fifties were about marines and rock stars embracing denims, the sixties were about painted and embroidered denims - a symbol of rebellious teen freedom. And today, the # MeToo movement, a socio-political phenomenon has found an expression in denims. Women are designing denim jeans, shirts and jackets that have stories of sexual harassment etched on them. The goal obviously is to start a conversation on taboo topics and make sure that people don’t forget about it. Interestingly, earlier this year Topshop created a ‘Fake News Jeans’, I am assuming in the honour of President Trump. Equally interesting would be if news anchors who sanctimoniously shout from their studios are made to wear Fake News Jeans and Jackets. 

Picture Credit  Here
News about sexual harassment etched on denims

My somewhat unreliable and alcoholic sources are telling me that designers are already designing newsworthy denims for the Indian market. Specifically for Delhi, there is an ‘Anarchist Pret Line’ with special Dharna jeans that can be worn at work and also when you sleep on a sofa. Likewise, we have ‘Achche Din’ denims that will make you feel on top of the world even though there isn’t much to cheer about. And finally, a sturdy ‘Secular Line’ for khadi clad storm troopers that will enable the Mahagathbandhan to survive the test of time. 

Given that the slim fit would be too uncomfortable for our pure and pious pollies to get their jollies, Patanjali can design a baggy fit denim coloured in Indian Indigo held by cotton drawstrings. No points wrangling, because unlike wicked Wrangler, the Patanjali clothing line will be a hallowed as the ‘khadi’. Maybe Patanjali can call their new jeans Born Players as an alternative to Jhon Players. Even better would be Pevis instead of Levis,  because Pee in place of Lee would be too odd, no? 

This piece was first published on The Quint.

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