Two things catch our eye about new Indo-British label Badger Badger. The first is their pound-sterling price tag -- not the most expensive white shirt you can buy from a Bombay label, but more exotically priced than most.
The second is a white shirt bearing a scarlet Hindi legend that advises the reader to ‘soch ke kharido’ -- buy wisely. Does it belong as a conversation piece at the botany-themed secret dinner we missed this weekend in Khar, or on a poster of Jab Harry Met Sejal? The answer is probably both.
Daniella Butcher and Flora Davidson, the two Bandra-British badgers who floated this new “not-quite-basic-basics” label last week, believe their unisex clothes belong everywhere, a bit like themselves. Their inaugural line is a tiny collection of pristine white shirts, accented with disarmingly sweet embroidered illustrations inspired by Madhubani painting. “It was originally more UK-focused,” Flora explains, when we ask about the pricing. Some varieties of badger quite enjoy Indian climates, though, as she says. “We realised these clothes belong in India, too. They're very much meant to be bought and worn anywhere around the country.”
The Sound And The Furry
“We’ll only do staples, and they’ll always be unisex,” she continues. Her own career in fashion so far includes a stint consulting with Adidas in the UK, where gender barriers are rapidly being swept away in street-wear lines. “That was one form of inspiration.” Daniella, who is in the UK when we call the Badger Badger lines, previously worked with an Indian-inspired menswear brand in London. “We have a dream list of people we’d love to see in our shirts -- imagine David Attenborough in one,” Flora says. We can, and hope he’s being chased down with a tiger-collared shirt right now.
Other parts of the story include tribal art, trips to Ranthambore -- which birthed a menagerie of illustrated animals that play peek-a-boo on the label’s cuffs and collars -- and the designers’ interest in ethical sourcing in fashion, a subject on which Flora makes short films. Your gender isn’t a criterion for whether or not you can wear these shirts, but if your politics are, try this on for size: they are made in a Bangalore factory where employees are offered daily yoga classes on the factory floor. Also for your environmental considerations are the dustbags, upcycled from the fine table linen thrown out by American luxury hotels.
Does this white shirt belong as a conversation piece at the botany-themed secret dinner we missed this weekend in Khar, or on a poster of Jab Harry Met Sejal? The answer is probably both.
The shy Badger Badger animals, illustrated by Flora, come with names like Elon Tusk and Chan Bachchan. (Like their creators, the animals can be immigrants too.) We can’t quite buy all their stories: a side badger named “Pradesh” seems a bit like a Tamil Muslim named “Dev Shah”. More compelling are the shirts’ soft but structured looks, and their overall restraint. Also note that the fabric, relaxed Oxford cotton, is just sturdy enough that it might stand you in better stead in an English summer than an Indian one.
We’re not super-confident about pulling on a white shirt in the monsoons, but a picture of Frida Kahlo in a shirt and sari (you’ve seen it floating around Instagram) is giving us ideas. We can almost hear her say: soch ke, querida.
Getting there: The inaugural Badger Badger line is available to pre-order from www.badgerbadger.co.uk and begins shipping late this month. A shirt costs £68, around Rs 5,558 at current forex rates.
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