March 19, 2024 FDCI

“In India sex, humour, and politics sells”

Jay Jajal founder of Jaywalking will tell you he is returning to simplicity, is excited about his ‘test fit’ garment, calls his drawings ugly and reveals his USP is that he is a fabulous marketeer!

By Asmita Aggarwal

Jay Jajal aspired to be a rapper, and he thanks his good fortune that he did not pursue it relentlessly, maybe it was the Guijju roots that told him, being lucrative and creative is a deadly combination, worth pursuing or maybe it is was just good old common sense—though the ball is up in the air on this one. “I am happy I didn’t become a musician; I can now support someone else’s dream of becoming one as fashion gives me the freedom to do what I want,” says Jay.

Whatever the case may be, the Mumbai based, heavily tattooed Jay is an interviewer’s delight as his irreverence makes it both entertaining and amusing. His father came from a small town of Mahuva, Bhavnagar, and sent his son to Singapore to study business administration, as soon as he returned, from a chawl in Borivali he began his streetwear label Jaywalking.

Not wanting any funds from his parents, Jay put in the money he got from gigs and started with patchwork denims and paint splattered jackets. Though his USP is his original prints, and artworks, reflective materials, he uses along with neoprene, and utility pockets that add functionality to his clothing. “The biggest challenge is to have some fun with basics that we all need in our wardrobes,” says Jay, who is part of the menswear edit for FDCI at the LFW 2024 in Mumbai, and he adds India is not yet ready for extremely experimental clothing.

The meaning of building a career is lost in GenZ, they get bored easily and what Jay says he has learnt is that you can hire intelligence, but the CV must read “rebellious, having guts and being unorthodox”.  And he does admit that in the pursuit of brand expansion, he somewhere lost the personal touch he once had with Jaywalking and the masterjee who taught him the intricacies of pattern cutting and moulding fabrics.

The market seems to be less focused on offering works of art, but is looking at price points only which somewhere take away the spirit of clothing. “Whenever the artist in you takes a backseat, making collections is like doing the Maths,” he admits adding, “I never claim to be the architect of modern Indian streetwear it always existed, I just came and redecorated it.”

Streetwear is more of a culture, a lifestyle, and he laughs and says, “I used to draw and what I did draw was ugly. But I liked them so much that I decided to use them on my clothes. I never begin with a preconceived notion; I try to surprise myself with the result.” But he did everything in his own language, and began with no expectations. “Nature has been a huge support system and I often use it as a metaphor in my clothing with its transient colour contrasts it charms me to see how despite the disparity there is a beautiful blending,” he says, adding that being a Gujarati, he understands business, like his dad who runs his successful, occasion wear retail from Borivali.

His biggest achievement is, he designs what everyone can wear, it is not costume-y, it is “aesthetically consumable” as utility is extremely crucial, “otherwise it is useless” he confesses. This year, he has stepped away from his usual hoodies, trousers, and constricted garments. “Also I don’t understand what sustainable means, in fact no one understands this word, but for me it’s about running an ethical business,” he says. Using cotton, he likes twill and ecru or what he calls kachcha (raw) denim, non-processed.

The piece that most will love is his ‘test fit’, ensemble, with masterjee’s pen markings that he retained, looks interesting. “We live in a world of Instagram and I have got a lot of love from that part of the world, but the industry must support new designers,” he says.

Buying a home for his parents, giving them a feeling, their son is “settled” makes Jay happy, “I don’t know pattern cutting but what I do know is how to sell, and how to make you spend your money,” he smiles adding that in India, “only sex, humour and politics sells.”

This year you can pick up his camouflage print that comes armed with embroidery and applique, then his hand drawn pin stripes are equally robust, that are deliberately uneven, with a human element to them, they are not straight but crooked. “I am returning to simplicity and I feel I need to oil my mind,” he laughs adding, “I want to live and do, invest myself in things that daily make me joyous, and slow down the pace to avoid a burnout again,” he concludes. Just like his father who runs a 33-year-old brand of wedding wear, but he is not on Instagram, which saves him from daily toil of how to serenade a fickle GenZ customer.

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