From The Screen To The Streets
They say life imitates art and one doesn't need to look much further than India to know that's true. It's hard to imagine another culture in which cinema has the reach and influence that it does here.
We buy what the celebrities sell to us in their commercials, obsesses over the names of their newborn children and let the releases of some films get so political that we take to the streets to protest. An avid cinema goer or not, you can’t deny that the screen to street bleed is somewhat inescapable - especially if you have an idea of what's going on in the fashion world.
Be it Kareena’s Salwar-Kameez pants and T-shirt look in Jab We Met started a “Indo-Western” revolution or Deepika’s night-out club outfits from Cocktail that brought back major love for mini dresses - no industry is as impacted by the screen in our country, as much as the fashion one.
Mainstream trends mirror our screens all the time. However, what might seem a little more surprising is that the ripples from Indian cinema all the way back from the 80s, 90s and even the early 2000s, seem to reflect in the relatively recent streetwear scene as well. While the trends from decades past have been reappearing all around us, when doing some further digging, it is clear that some of our favourite cult-classic Hindi films might have been on to something that modern streetwear labels are emulating till date.
Athleisure is no longer just a "comfy alternative" and with the rise of Sneaker culture in the country also having roots in Sportswear, apparel-wise the last few years have seen us embrace everything from team jerseys to cycling shorts into our daily wardrobe staples.
This trend of merging sportswear silhouettes with daily wear essentials holds a common theme throughout 90s cinema with Karisma Kapoor in Dil to Pagal Hai being seen in gym friendly co-ord sets - a concept that streetwear labels and even the Kardashian's athleisure street style emulates ever so often.
The silhouette that perhaps made the most seamless come back in recent years, however, was the "Boyfriend" jean. Very much prompted by the street scene, relaxed silhouettes have prevailed after the early 21st century fascination with skinny jeans and tight fitting crop tops. The first half of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai saw SRK combining baggy silhouettes with utility fit jackets, both of which are prevalent even today. However, SRK was not the only icon - Kuch Kuch Hota Hai was also coined as a cultural reset in terms of how "women's style" was viewed.
Kajol's iconic Tomboy character Anjali, was seen sporting baseball caps, bombers and dungarees which may seem very normal in the current, relatively more fluid culture but at the time was definitely a style statement. Dungarees went on to become the staple at the beginning of the unisex fashion wave and have now been embraced as a favourite by many artists.
Of course, to be fair, they still had a long way to go in the 90s because half-way through the film she has a "more appealing feminine makeover" to be deemed more beautiful but it was a small step in the right direction, all the same .
Whether it was Shahrukh in the iconic friendship day scene or Salman in Dulhan Hum le Jayenge, the 90s were not afraid of bold print shirts. Streetwear labels may not use as many floral or polka dot prints but we've seen time and time again how oversized printed shirts are a great way to showcase strong political statements and beautiful works of art through fashion.
The overall sentiment has gone back to not shying away from being bold and standing out and what was once a perfect holiday scene staple in the 90s has adapted to continue to remain a statement staple now.
One can't think of 90s fashion icons and not think of Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gum's Poo. She became the epitomy of what it meant to be fashionable and clearly the costume designers knew what they were doing as nearly all of her outfits translate perfectly even now.
The concept of matching co-ord sets might have gained traction in the 90s, but have now been embraced by the street and mainstream fashion sphere alike. There is no limitation to the concept and while Poo's were mostly halter necks and flared pant duos, we've seen the same being done with basketball shorts and baggy tees as well.
Another cult favourite, that is from the early 2000's, showcasing ahead-of-their-time, street-style inspired fits is the Dia Mirza, R. Madhavan and Saif Ali Khan starrer Rehnaa Hai Tere Dil Mein. With the characters donning oversized graphic shirts, straight fit jeans with panel details, boxy shirt jackets and cuban link-esque chain accessories, the outfit from the film all display style details and aesthetics that are prevalent in today's streetwear brands' collections.
To round it up, a trend that never seems to die and just gets better with time is that of the beat-up leather jacket. Making a massive comeback in 2020, labels have taken the classic leather jacket boxy fit seen everywhere in the 90s and made it their own with hand embroidery, badges and utility style pockets. Leather has also not remained constricted to jackets only and has found its way into practically any garment you can think of - lightweight leather trenches, coats and sports coats are just some streetwear staples you can find these days.
History does in fact repeat itself and the truly fascinating early Bollywood cinema fashion was groundbreaking and fresh enough to be reiterated and reinvented today.
Perhaps it was the abandonment of the norm and great leaps it took away from the cinema before, which is what makes it so relevant in a time when the prevailing sentiment in the streetwear world is to break barriers and express yourself in whatever way you see fit.