Trend Bite: Art Haus, Priya Aluwalia’s Modern Approach to Menswear

A new group of upstart-makers, insta-creators and artists are reviving the fashion world with their risk-taking energy. Disregarding the traditional hierarchy and systems of the apparel industry, this peer-to-peer generation is innovating both design and process through online platforms and new technologies. As we see these platforms boom, alongside the vintage and retro aesthetics that Millennials and Gen-Zers alike crave, we are witnessing a new aesthetic emerging: combining DIY-based design in an era dominated by streetwear. And Priya Ahluwalia sits right in the middle of it all.

Priya Ahluwalia launched her namesake brand, Ahluwalia Studio, in 2018 after graduating with an MA in Menswear from the University of Westminster. Within the next several years Ahluwalia would rack up some serious notoriety from the entire fashion industry, becoming known for her out-of-the-box, nostalgic take on modern menswear. She won the H&M Design Award in 2019, collaborated with Adidas at Paris Fashion Week in the same year and has received world-wide press in publications such as i-D, Vogue UK, Dazed & Confused, New York Times, The Guardian and GQ among others. In March 2020 Priya Ahluwalia was featured in the Forbes 30 under 30 European Arts and Culture list and in April she would become a joint winner of the LVMH Prize in April 2020.

Priya takes elements from her Indian-Nigerian heritage and London roots to explore the life of vintage and deadstock clothing, integrating technologically advanced textile finishing techniques to give them new life. Ahluwalia photographs all of her own research, which is an integral part to her design process. The brand focuses on creating unique forward-thinking garments for the modern man, using responsible sourcing and manufacture techniques. In a trip to Nigeria, she discovered the vast amount of wasted clothing that ends up in the world’s second-hand shops, and over the years has developed large networks of deadstock and second-hand suppliers enabling her unique ability to breath new life into previously forgotten garments.

Her retro-inspired collections look to community and history for inspiration. Her AW20, Ahluwalia collection looked deep into the year 1965, the birth year of her step-dad.  Sarah Mower of Vogue commented, “It’s amazing to see designers like Ahluwalia, growing up in a time when streetwear is the norm, who are now lifting it to a higher design plane, bringing new cultural energies to fashion, and sewing positive change into everything they do.”

She offers a new take on what many perceive “sustainable fashion” to look like, in the sense that it is not a look, but a process. In her latest collection, the jeans were found in a denim factory in Tunisia that uses organic and recycled cotton, the patterns on them were lasered. “Obviously, I don’t want to use bleach,” she said in an interview with Vogue. Color-blocked sweaters were knitted from “organic, certified lambswool and recycled nylon.” The beaded embroidery on sleeves was “hand-done with a social enterprise in India.” Many of her designs feature minute detailing, patchwork, clean lines and finishing techniques enabling her to blur the lines between streetwear and reworked vintage. Her most recent collaboration, with Matches Fashion, is made from repurposed and organic materials are used throughout the collection. 

She is also an author of two books, her latest titled “Jalebi” launched along with a Digital, Virtual Reality exhibition in Early June. Jalebi is all about community and what it means to be a mixed heritage person living in Britain showcasing the beauty of diversity and how immigration enriches lives.

Aluwalia is the perfect example of a new generation of fashion designer: a multi-disciplinary maker who folds art, design and technology into her clothing business, whilst making hefty statements around cultural heritage, politics and identity.

Kingpins’ Trend Bites are created by Denim Dudes to give you a small taste of the full denim trend report they have prepared for the season. Interested in purchasing the full report? Visit Kingpins Trend page.

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