October 10, 2019 Asmita Aggarwal

Fizz Control

Pravav and Shyma embark on an ambitious journey creating a line for the iconic brand Pepsi giving it a Retro 80’s twist

By Asmita Aggarwal

There are always two sides to a coin and that is mirrored in human nature too, that’s why the Pranav Misra you see on the catwalk is totally different from Pranav the poet. And both co-exist peacefully, the only difference being that the poet is more laid back and free spirited, inspired by his father, who translated the Bhagvad Gita as a poem, and the designer is astute, Machiavellian and always looking at making impactful imagery for millennials to like, repost and consume.

Growing up in Lucknow, the exposure to fashion came when he went to study at NIFT Bangalore and then launching his label Huemn, in 2012 with classmate Shyma Shetty. He realised soon enough that fashion is not an island, it is dominated by political, social and economic constructs and these form the edifice of the brand. Pranav sees himself as a storyteller less as a designer a term he finds not fitting on his rather larger-than-life runway shows. “When I write Hindi poems, I am a different person, it is a personal exercise, it embodies a unique mood and energy. But fashion has to be consumed so it needs editing as we are looking at a larger audience,” he admits, adding that poems have been part of his childhood journey they only got public 8-9 years ago when he started performing.

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Huemn as a brand is not looking at just the domestic buyer, they show in Paris, LA, Florence and New York so the ideology is universal, even when Pranav travels to Pitti Uomo, every year. This season is special for the duo, as they have won a prestigious collaboration with Pepsi, to design a line of clothing for young people which is in keeping with the fizzy brand’s narrative and reflects in the choice of ambassadors too Disha Patani and Tiger Shroff. Blue here is the warmest colour and part of the symbolism of Pepsi, so you will find it in abundance in their line launched at Lotus Make-Up India Fashion Week SS’20, in association with EbixCash.

The collection has a 80s vibe and uses vintage ads, billboards and factory, buildings as well as the logos of Pepsi incorporating iconography that reverberates with youth culture. What makes is special is the duo’s commitment to recycling so the denim you see is made from ocean waste given a twist with pattern play. Though the challenge for the brand that sells sweatshirts, bell bottoms and jackets, essentially street luxury to an expensive audience, will now have to bring down their prices to be available to a mass market. Globally Alexander Wang designed a can for Pepsi, and in India they are the first to have enjoyed this unique association with the iconic brand.
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“The task was to match the DNA of Pepsi with what we offer and when you work with an MNC of such repute everything needs to be looked at with fine details. Even Pepsi’s new campaign ‘Har Ghoont Mein Hai Swag’ is blended in effortlessly,” he explains. The campaign was launched earlier this year and aims to celebrate the confidence and self-belief of the Indian youth. It is all about living in the moment, seizing new, interesting opportunities and doing it all with “swag”. That’s why the line focuses on denim, it is the epicentre and Pranav predicts it will be huge in times to come, so they have added interesting washes, used memorable Pepsi ads and given it a rather Retro feel.

Huemn has been a frontrunner in doing interesting tie-ups and their work with acclaimed photographer Mark Hanauer is laudable in terms of how they include diversity meaningfully. “We shoot with people from all over the world mostly unique faces that are not generally defined by fashion’s barometer of what constitutes to ‘pretty’. These faces tell a story and we have received an overwhelming response from our customers on the imagery and its impact,” says Shyma. The idea remains to talk about diverse body types, age groups and going genderless, even though Shyma insists she would not like to put people in gender brackets, and that’s what makes the brand universally accepted. “We have been casting trans models since we began, not as a gimmick but a way to be inclusive. Like we only offer separates, so that every buyer has the option of styling it the way they desire, no pressure,” she concludes.

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