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    HomePoliticsQueer spotlight: Fashion label Vulgar questions gender politics and taboos with clothing

    Queer spotlight: Fashion label Vulgar questions gender politics and taboos with clothing

    Akshay Sharma’s clothing wants to make a statement. The name says it all of course, but there’s a rebellion brewing by way of clothes that are meant to incite a response. The NIFT graduate is not interested in sugar-coating his gender-fluid iterations packaged with a pretty bow, manufactured to the tertiary level of what is deemed acceptable, but wants to make a point– which he does loud and proud. Established in 2020, the label has quickly gained traction for its rule-breaker and fluid attitude towards fashion.

    Sharma’s future-nostalgic clothing is wearable, cognisant of  industry shifts, as they take the shape of some the hottest trends of the season . Sculpted bodysuits? Check. Strategic cutouts– the kind style icons at fashion week parties are obsessed with? Check. “It has taken me years of research to finally present silhouettes which are truly fluid in nature and not just oversized, you’ll see a lot of structured garments which are difficult to crack the fine line between masculinity and femininity with. And that’s what makes Vulgar different from what my competitors are serving at the moment,” says Sharma.

    While the message behind the graphic symbolism of words that are splashed across his designs are politically derived, the collections serve pure fashion. There’s something to be said about the manner in which Sharma articulates his ideas. Quite like late designer Abloh’s start at Off-White, whose signature branding on products became a defining moment in fashion, Sharma has a clever grasp on how he hopes to communicate his emotions on fabric by his direct and bold approach to symbolism on clothes.

    “The logo of Vulgar is a target maze. It is a metaphor for how people with different identities and ideologies are targeted when they don’t adhere to the moral conduct acceptable by society. The maze in the target symbolises freedom and liberation when one finally crosses it,” explains Sharma. With his first collection, ‘Intellectual Punks’, he takes this overarching theme forward by featuring terms with a certain level of explicitness stamped on t-shirts in an attempt to open dialogue on uncomfortable topics and sexual taboos.

    Fluidity is at the heart of the label, where Sharma twists the codes of design assigned by gender to unpack and question its heteronormative origins. “I have always been enthralled by fluid fashion. It goes back to my childhood when I would play dress-up with my mum and sisters. My family, especially my mum and dad, always supported and encouraged my gender expression and there was never a dull moment. I remember my mom choosing my fashion week looks. Even in fashion school, my project was on androgyny, it has always been a part of me,” recalls Sharma. “I would say the biggest push was when my mum passed away and I wanted to put my grief into art and Vulgar came out of it,” he adds.

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