Priyanka Gandhi and Robert Vadra’s son Raihan wants to let clothes do the talking. With friend and now business partner Fateh Khanna, Raihan has founded a T-shirt brand called Bootleg. Based in Delhi, it aims to bring together artists, musicians, and people from other creative industries. With minimal designs and graphic prints on single-colour T-shirts, it is an enterprise born out of privilege that wants to have roots in community.
“We aim to collaborate with musicians and artists to design their own clothing lines. Music and art are essential to the brand,” Raihan tells ThePrint.
Raihan and Fateh are wildlife photographers who wanted to integrate their passion into the Bootleg aesthetic. Their first collection came out in 2022.
“Since we’re both photographers, I feel like we have the liberty to incorporate our photos into our clothes,” says 22-year-old Fateh.
Fateh and Raihan were classmates at Dehradun’s Doon School. Raihan then went on to study at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), while Fateh is completing a degree in law from O.P Jindal Global University in Haryana.
One of their best-selling products is ‘Eye of the Tiger’ — a plain black T-shirt with featuring a glowering tiger at the back. The design is so minimal that it looks unfinished, adhering to the classic millennial and Gen-Z profile fashion sense — giving the sense of a collage with the same easy nonchalance. The T-shirts are priced at Rs 2,999.
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Importance of art
Bootleg’s debut collection was modelled by Delhi-based musicians Karun and Udbhav who are part of the city’s underground hip-hop and R&B industry. Udbhav’s avant-garde album YATI, which uses mythological elements, cemented his place in the capital’s hip-hop ecosystem.
This year, Fateh and Raihan are set to expand by inviting more artists and musicians. Now, Raihan and Fateh are all set to expand this year and invite more artists and musicians to add to the Bootleg repository.
Artist Sumit Roy brought out a collection of tote bags for Bootleg. “Sumit has been integral to shaping our designs as well as our art direction,” says Raihan. Roy is an artist who imbues tradition and myth into the contemporary. One visual shows Hindu god Shiva standing stoically against the kitschy red background used for the Louis Vuitton x Supreme collection. The others Other visuals, too, are vibrant and irreverent, a reminder to not take oneself too seriously. And the tote bags reflect this sensibility as well with fun, playful graphics.
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Streetwear in India
From its roots in New York of the ‘70s to today when it is global fashion, streetwear has become a luxury attire. Tightly woven into the notions of ‘community’, it is now less ‘street’ and more ‘high fashion’.
Streetwear originated in 1970s New York, part of a hip-hop scene whose makers wanted their clothes to mirror the subculture they were building. Tightly woven into notions of community and the usage of art as a vehicle to stimulate community, it is now less ‘street’ and more ‘high fashion’.
Indian streetwear brands, too, are carrying out their own revolution in the market. Brands like Huemn and Jaywalking and designers like Dhruv Kapoor and Kanika Goyal have carved a niche for themselves. There’s tough competition already. but Bootleg’s founders aren’t worried. “I feel like a market for creativity can never truly be saturated. There is always room for more creativity and art,” says Fateh.
At the time of conception, streetwear was supposed to be a medium for outsiders to gel into the community. “The idea for us was to make clothes and build a community. I think streetwear can be a way for anybody to find community, not solely outsiders,” says Raihan.
(Edited by Humra Laeeq)