Inspired by hip-hop and its honesty of lyrics, from the heartland of Punjab Paras Chawla brings Naka, a label that combines two opposing ideologies — suiting materials for street wear
By Asmita Aggarwal
Small towns are producing some rare talent whether it is Tiso Ghari’s Badal Kumar from Buxar, or his predecessor Rahul Mishra from Malhousi, Kanpur and now Naka clothing’s Paras Chawla from Rajpura, Punjab. And the interesting part is that they all share a fire in the belly despite having no initial training or exposure to the workings of the fashion space.
“I had to drive 40 km from my hometown to Chandigarh to have a cup of coffee as Rajpura has no cafes or pizza corners where you can hang out with friends,” he remembers. Nor did Paras, come from a family that had anything to do with the style world, as his big joint family are timber traders.
After finishing school, Paras moved to Delhi and began searching for courses to equip himself; he narrowed down at Pearl Academy, Noida where he studied design. His first attempt was to launch a line Street 401, inspired by the pin code of his home, also a hip-hop reference, but then changed it to Naka, or in desi language a “road or street”.
The 23-year-old says, “I only wanted to do menswear, I didn’t want to make suits as those are already available in all shapes and forms. My interest is street wear and that too the adventurous variety,” he adds. He combines fabrics and the odd ones catch his eye; he has taken suiting material and created street wear. His first line titled “Spineless” was about self-nurturing and spirituality; how finding yourself is an endless process, as you discover new things about your personality every day. “The infinite possibilities fascinated me and I created half-and-half jackets and baggy silhouettes, what you would probably see men in Tokyo or Europe wear,” he adds.
For LMIFW A-W 2019, Paras has gone back in time to pay homage to the 30s era when men wore long line coats, large lapels and bell bottoms. His take on it turns the concept on its head with patchwork, loose cuts in cargo fabrics (high GSM) with unpredictable pocket placements and detailing on cuffs and pant bottoms.
With the success of Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy, the hip-hop culture in the country is emerging as a strong movement and is a definitive ode to being free-spirited. There are a legion of devotees of Divine (Vivian Fernandes) and Naezy, skateboarders, graffiti artists and dancers who Paras hopes to dress in his anthropologist-inspired jackets in khaki. Dull orange, olive green and navy blue are the primary hues adapted to give it an underground vibe. “It was my brother, studying in New York, who introduced me to hip-hop music, it soon became my leitmotif and I associated with it. As a child I never wanted to go to school and study, I would bunk and go and watch a film or just hang out with friends, till fashion happened,” he confesses.
In a world that is seeing the maximum upheaval in menswear thanks to Alessandro Michele (Gucci) where he is putting men in frocks, turbans, lace, transparency and crochet, as well as pink and red, Paras believes the future is strong for this genre. “Surface texturing will take over embellishments and even the ones who are initially hesitant, now are willing to cross the proverbial Rubicon. That’s heartening,” he concludes.