A personal Facebook invitation to attend the launch of dENIiZEN’s new line of men’s clothing designed by actor Imran Khan. Very cool indeed. Minority-Review had to attend. Editor Sailesh Ghelani arrived at the venue, where mostly PYTs all dolled up were chitchatting about their blogs and this season’s collections. It was a bloggers meet, after all. We took our place on the bean bags placed in front of a stage and waited for Imran Khan and someone from dENiZEN (a Levi’s sub-brand) to tell us about the new Spring-Summer line.
The jeans, half-sleeved shirts and t-shirts were designed and co-created with Imran, all of them bearing his signature. But that’s not all. They’ve also tried to infuse some of his quirks and personality in to the line. For instance, Imran wears a ring all the time. But when he does something with that particular hand he pulls off his ring and puts it in the small watch pocket of his jeans. After a while doing this, the ring leaves an impression on the material (just like a coffee mug would leave a ring on a wooden table). So they’ve replicated that on the jeans, which are meant to appeal to the youth.
Imran was asked what other nuances from his life were used in the creation of these denims. Here’s what he had to say:
Whatever I own or buy, the idea is to make it unique and individual and make it what I am. Also, I carry two mobile phones and put one in each pocket, so they tend to leave a distinct marking on the material of the jeans. So we’ve done that as a design on the pockets of a pair of dENiZEN jeans so it looks like you’re carrying two phones. The idea is trying to make it stand out. Often there is a disconnect between the people who make clothes and the people who wear them.
What other inputs did you have in the process?
I’m a big denim geek myself in terms of the type of denim, the cut, the types of washes. We actually worked in great depth in selecting what type of denim we used. We used a slightly premium type of denim, which is the highest quality denim in the world. For the summer collection the idea was to use lighter denims, lighter washes and lighter colours.
All the jeans have the signature red zipper ribbon; they have a canvas label instead of the leather one you find on most jeans. That’s because it has a unique look and feel, which is handmade. The jeans have my signature on the inside. A lot of the stuff won’t be visible on the outside but you’ll feel happy when you wear them; it feels good to you. It’s not to show someone else.
What’s with this t-shirt that has the words ‘Did you know?’ on it?
My friends call me Wikipedia, because I know a lot of things and when my friends need to know about something they ask me. And then I say, ‘Did you know…?” which is a catchphrase of sorts for me. So we put that on a t-shirt.
Were you inspired by any brands that you buy?
I’ve never been a brand person; I have no loyalty to any particular one. I pick up things purely based on what they look like. Of course, things that I see and people that I meet influence me.
What made you push the boundaries this year from the last collection you did?
The idea is to try and stay current. I am not someone who is very clued in to fashion trends. The idea is how do you take something and make it different from everything else? More than fashion, I believe in style, because that’s about who you are. How do you make a pair of jeans unique? People don’t just want to buy a pair of jeans that has my signature on it. They want to see if there is something more, something unique about Imran that they are buying with the jeans too.
What are the new things you’ve done in this collection?
In the previous collection we had done a day and night thing. So there was a contrast between the two with darker, leather-looking colours and denims for the night. This collection is lighter and made especially for summer.
Where do you get your inspiration from then?
You get inspiration from everywhere. For instance, that canvas patch on the back pocket of the jeans. Do you remember the canvas shoes we used to wear for physical training in school? I bought a pair of those recently. That rough texture on them that looks unique after being worn down, that’s what I liked. So I used that.
What sort of research did you do to create a unique pair of jeans?
At some point all the different blues they show you look the same (Laughs). I got into this honestly not knowing much. I just knew what I liked. Every single rivet was shown to me. The colour, the enamel, the works. The back pocket has four lines of stitches instead of the standard two. It’s about the details. Jeans are so common that you develop a blind spot to them; you just look at what the person is wearing above the waist, which is why they need to stand out in a different way.
I’ve always dreamt of having a pair of jeans with my name on it. I would find visual references of things that I’d like to show them what I wanted. For instance the buttons on the jeans, traditionally they are copper or brass, but these ones are gunmetal because I think they have a more modern feel.
The problem a lot of people face is with the fit of jeans. Have you worked on customising it to Indian bodies?
Traditionally, the jeans you got in India were tight on the thighs and loose on the waist and you would have to wear them really high up on your waist. Research was done on the Indian body, so we’ve got a fit that is just right for our body types.
Will you be making anything for women?
That’s on the cards for the next season. For the Fall-Winter collection.
How do you take time off from your busy schedule to do this?
We pull out a couple of days in the month where I would dedicate to designing. Other than that they send me pictures to approve on my iPhone.
Do you have any ideas for the women’s wear line?
My inspiration for that is very Ivy League preppy.
Can you wear jeans to a formal event?
No. But semi-formal yes, if you wear a dark pair of jeans, with a jacket or a tie. And of course a nice pair of shoes. I think people don’t change their shoes enough, they wear the same pair everywhere.
What’s your opinion on men’s accessories?
I really don’t think much of men’s accessories, the only things I wear are my wedding ring and the other one that I take off and put in my watch pocket.
The half-sleeve dENiZEN shirts look pretty much the same as most other brands…
Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make a difference. So with these shirts, if you feel the material or wear them you’ll see they are very light and comfortable where most other brands the material tends to be thick and heavier.
Do you have a say in your clothes on set or does your stylist make all the decisions?
Yes I do have a say. A simple example is in the film Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu. I played a character that is very uncomfortable in his skin. He’s a guy who is forced to be something he is not, he is very awkward. I asked them to make all the clothes a size too small. So the collar was always too tight; I could never relax my head. The jacket was tight so I couldn’t move freely. I was physically uncomfortable so it altered my body language, which adds to the character.
You wear a lot of ties, how come you didn’t add that as part of the collection?
Yeah, I wear a lot of ties but the guys at dENiZEN didn’t think that appealed to a young target audience. In India ties, are considered formal unfortunately.
Gallery of some of the clothes from dENiZen’s Spring-Summer line: