Exploring The Fruit Shop At The End Of The World

Exploring The Fruit Shop At The End Of The World

We catch up with New Delhi-based streetwear label Almost Gods to talk about their first drop from the collection Fruit Shop at the End of The World and what the future holds for the brand

With the dramatic unveiling of their newest collection titled 'Fruit Shop at the End of the World', Delhi-based streetwear label Almost Gods gave a sneak peek into the illustrious and intricate world of their brand and its vision.

An interesting title that perks ears, Fruit Shop at the End of the World has an equally interesting narrative and story behind its inception. I caught up with the founder and dear friend Dhruv Khurana to know more about the collection, the story, and what is to come for the brand.

Its been a task trying to align schedules and find time to have this interview with him, given how busy he is promoting and launching the new collection, and after several back and forth, Dhruv calls me back sounding energetic, frantic yet preoccupied.

"I have the questions in front of me, I'll send you voice recordings - I'll get on it right now!"

I internally groan at the impending rigorous task of transcribing audios but give in, and true to his word, I receive the audios within the next 30 minutes.

Source: Almost Gods

So what is Fruit Shop? It certainly sounds like the title of a whimsical tale, and in a sense, I suppose it is.

Dhruv begins explaining how the idea first came about, revealing that on a chance walk down the street, he came across a local fruit shop and in an off-hand way mentioned to AG Creative Director Akansha Bahal, how cool it would be if they ended up working on an AG fruit shop.

Laughing it off initially, the pair returned to their white-board that displayed the 5 other potential ideas they were working on, determined to come up with a concept for a collection that didn't go the usual designing route. Unable to get past the fantastic visual appeal that the Fruit Shop idea brought with it, the team eventually decided to do something unique and different by working on creating an actual fruit shop for the brand.

"Because of Covid none of us were in a place where we wanted to conceptually go about designing a collection as we usually would - normally we'd say this is what we want to talk about and get across to people, and we'd come up with a concept and build a story around it. But with Fruit Shop, we didn’t want to be in a position to tell people what to do, because no one had the capacity to engage in a brand telling them to pay attention to something necessarily, given the global circumstance."

Dhruv Khurana

Expanding on the nascent stages of the idea, Dhruv reveals how the team began speaking to actual fruit shops in an effort to make their concept come to life, eventually reaching the conclusion to include a merch line for the Shop which led to the AG ethos and conceptual background of the brand really coming through.

Diving into researching the history of fruits, their cultural significance, the team left no stone unturned, unearthing and drawing parallels between fruit and sexual connotations (citing an example of how all over the world, historically, harvest season has been widely associated with orgies and celebrations of abundance and creation.)

Further researching on some collections by brilliant designers such as Raf Simons and Margiela who had collections centered around fruits, and Alexander McQueen's Highland Rape collection that conveyed aggressive sexuality, Dhruv factored in all elements while ideating the designs for Fruit Shop.

"(We began exploring) this direct connection between fruit and sex in a way, and in fashion if in any conversation you can bring sex in, it's definitely more engaging. We knew it could be something but we didn’t know what exactly. This whole world exists that we wanted to explore, a story we didn’t know yet - we had research docs, mood boards and visuals. We wanted to not only create but really explore the collection."

Dhruv Khurana

To really take it to the next level, Dhruv discloses how another facet of the concept came to be and really make it what it is now. The idea of "Peak Everything" - essentially having to constantly keep up, and in some cases, overcome the rapidly growing technologies, new money and media as a whole - works in tandem with the final story of the collection.

He reveals how an AI-generated press kit sent to them really put the wheels into motion, facilitating and imbibing a conversation into the narrative that spoke about the mass hysteria and commodification that exists in today's world.

"Akansha received a newsletter one day, which was really cool and was generated by AI. The whole paper was written by a computer and we thought it was nuts! We realised it was a really good representation of this systemic place we are in right now - this idea of “Peak Experience”. So we went back to Fruit Shop to put in visual representations and there was a lightbulb moment - peak everything lines up with Fruit Shop. Fruit shops in India especially, are so visually inundating; there are colours everywhere, huge flex posters, god statues and agarbattis - you have pieces of information all around that hit you really hard."

Dhruv Khurana

To tie it all together finally, the final element of the narrative is inspired by the harrowing journey of the past year and a half with the Covid-19 pandemic, creating this sense of dystopia that the AG team effortlessly weaves into the storyline of the collection.

"It’s a story of a protagonist who is walking through this world that’s ended and they come across this Fruit Shop -there is this overwhelming feeling of being and existing in the middle of absolutely nothing. There is a myth that our clothes kind of act as the motions of the protagonist going through this world."

Dhruv Khurana

Coming to the actual pieces in the first drop (yes there are more to come, stay tuned!), the capsule consists of 4 looks and 6 individual pieces.

Ranging from a bold, lettered trench coat, a billboard print polo, a motif embroidered T-shirt (featuring the infamous Apple that led to the downfall of Eve, The Snake from the garden of Eden and the Christian Cross), to a tactical, nylon sweater suitable for any end-of-the-world surviving kit, the collection is a menagerie of visuals and tangible representations.

Billboard Polo
Billboard PoloSource: Almost Gods

"The Fruit Shop trench as a silhouette is the highlight piece of the first drop. The trench has always historically been used elusively, it represents shadows and the dark, so we decided to flip it on its head and make it a full-ass billboard! The idea of Peak Everything really comes through in that piece - it plays on the idea of duality that is important to AG, where we contrast silhouettes with one thing and change its functionality."

Dhruv Khurana

They even have a paint-by-number co-ord set made out of cotton canvas, that comes equipped with paints, brushes and a manual/instruction guide citing the number with the colour ("We leave the instructions as a suggestion though," Dhruv elaborates. "For example, if it’s a banana then we say you MAY paint it yellow but in the end it's your world, it's your decision to paint it whatever you please.")

Citing it as his favourite piece from the drop, Dhruv explains that the paint-by-number set was one of the main instigators of how the collection came to be. He further expands on how it tells a lot about the person who is buying and wearing it, because it wholeheartedly represents who they are, and what they make the piece - in a nutshell, it is a canvas that is meant to be explored freely.

Coming up with such an elaborate concept and story is no easy feat, nor is the actual manifestation of the narrative into tangible products. On enquiring about the challenges faced while designing and creating this collection, Dhruv reveals the fine-tunings that take place in tweaking the concept are exceptionally important.

"You have to constantly tweak the dialogue and enforce it - it's not just fruit, it's the implication of the fruit and this entire world that the Fruit Shop is visually alluding to. So to have that discussion internally and constantly reinforce the ideology to be on the same page has been very important. And the very next thing is how we present it to the world, to stay true to the visual vocab of how someone talks about it and thinks about it has been tough, but it's also been fun."

Dhruv Khurana

In comparison to the previously released AG collections, Dhruv reveals that this one particularly stands apart in terms of the brand voice being a lot more focused. Taking some giant leaps in terms of going beyond conventional fashion storytelling, the label wants the audience to treat fashion the way one would art and media.

"If you can build a world and universe for people to step into, that’s really important. And with the upcoming drops as well, you’ll see the story unfold more and more in bits and pieces."

He further expands,

"With this collection, in terms of the entire world we’ve built around it, as a team we couldn’t be prouder. It's definitely our strongest statement. In terms of how I differentiate it from what everyone else is doing, I think people are engaging with things in a very different manner at this moment in time with Covid."

Dhruv Khurana

With lots more to come and the story to unfold further, we can't wait to see what the bigger picture of the Fruit Shop at the End of The World looks like. Stay tuned to this space for all future details and head over to the Almost Gods Instagram page to get a sneak peek of their first drop.

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