Kitsch goes chic

MAKING A STATEMENT: Kitsch is something that never goes out of style. Photo: Special Arrangement  

A Photoshop-filtered image of the Taj Mahal, the letters ‘Horn Ok’ in block fonts, a cartoon of the curled up moustache and a turban, the barat Ghoda or the decorated elephant – all in bright pink, neon yellow, vermillion red and peacock blue! Sounds familiar? Yes, it is the Indian Kitsch that never really lost its place in the trending fashion market.

Though it was Manish Arora who introduced Kitsch on ramp in 2007 with his collection Fish Fry’, the bright art has been around for sometime in street style and is not just restricted to clothes. The romance with the truck and rickshaw is found more on accessories, home decors and lifestyle products, with a number of brands lapping up the ‘spunk’ look. From cushion covers, doormats, tea coasters, bags, purses, Tshirts, curtains and now on boxers and pants, Indian Kitsch has carved a place of its own. “Kitsch is something that never goes out of style really. It has a unique appeal, especially among the young fashionistas. It is eye-catching, loud and on-the-face, which makes it stand out,” says Ankita Singh, a Mumbai-based fashion stylist.

“Hippie Kitsch made a brief appearance in the outfits of designers like Alexander McQueen. But, soon it became a fad. Kitsch doesn’t fit into the strict style book of international fashion. That makes it easy to wear and one can effortlessly team it up with any ordinary outfit. A bit of kitsch in your wardrobe and you grab eye-balls,” says Neharika Sharma, a Delhi-based fashion blogger.

The latest trend in accessories seems to be pop-arty motifs with Indian designs and colours. Some established brands like Chumbak and certain start-ups such as Tadpolestore and Mad(e) in India have come up with a wide collection of fashion and lifestyle products with Indian kitsch designs on them. “The designs are a derivation of truck art and Bollywood posters. It is nothing but transforming the everyday colours on the streets on to something wearable. It is more Indian, fashionable and casual but not ethnic. That’s the mantra. Everything Indian needn’t be ethnic,” says Bhavna Bahri of Tadpolestore. The products vary from Kathakali inspired saris and mela inspired bags to badges and pins that have rickshaw art on them. One may find their products on

“The Indian sensibility makes the product popular, vibrant and appealing. The quirky prints, kitschy colours and symbols manage to attract young and hip fashion lovers,” says Pankaj Acharya of Mad(e) in India, that comes out with wallets, passport bags and T-shirts in the kitsch category. “Some of the items are also bought as souvenirs by foreign tourists. That way, Indian kitsch is reaching the West in a big way.” Visit

Sumant Kelanka, who runs Mumbai-based fashion house ‘Designmandee’, is working on a menswear collection that retains elements of Indian Kitsch. “A mix-match of bright colours, little speckles of street art motifs make for a kitsch inspired garment. It isn’t necessary to retain the complete flavour of kitsch anymore. The term has come a long way from being called ‘loud and cheap’,” he says. “The evolution of kitsch is such that, it now includes designs that depict monuments, wildlife and the typical cultural icons of India and not just street art. There’s much scope for it to be found in haute couture in future.”

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Printable version | Apr 23, 2021 6:57:03 AM |

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