Edited by Yatin Srivastava
Music and Fashion move together when it comes to personal expression and identity as an artist and a fan. More interestingly, the landscape is ever-changing as well. I grew up as a Metalhead, and brands are something we would never associate with. However, now we live in a world where bands such as Rammstein have Balenciaga making clothing together in a collaboration. You can find band merchandise at fast fashion brand outlets too. Whether this development is good or bad is a question for later, but it is clear that personal identities are changing with the new generations. As new Music cultures rise and emerge, new Fashion trends emerge simultaneously. For example, International brands have been tying up with African artists, such as Burna Boy, Major League DJz etc., to build cultural cache but have also created space for many local African designers, such as Mowalola and many other POC designers, to carve out a niche for themselves around the world.
Whilst this development has slowly taken place and, arguably, has been for a long time in the mainstream now, another aspect of Clothing and Fashion has become synonymous with Music and the Culture of different genres. Hence, in today's newsletter, we will look into the practice of Thrift shopping and Sustainable Fashion, specifically on Instagram and how it has made small but prominent waves in the various Desi Hip-Hop scenes.
The pandemic brought many Social Media trends to India, but one of the big ones that caught hold over Instagram was thrift shopping. Thrift Stores, with varied options of sustainable and affordable clothing, flooded the platform and introduced an entirely new culture in the modern zeitgeist. I spent a lot of time going through many thrift stores looking for clothes ranging from Boots to Corsets to Shirts. One of my favourite shops to come out of this rise on Instagram was Boseys. I also had a personal connection with the founder, Tanushree Bose (@tansolo). We had previously worked together in a local Hip-hop label a few years ago, and her ability to create content based on her love for Hip-Hop and Fashion was nothing short of inspiring. Fast forward to Boseys; her initial drops catered to many different fashion styles, primarily from her wardrobe.
How authenticity can drive new communities
Tanushree has an impeccable style. You could always recognise her at a Hip-Hop show. She radiates the Hip-Hop style and aesthetic. Suddenly, her style was accessible to the growing fanbase for local and international Hip-Hop. Now also a stylist, Tanushree has styled many Hip-Hop Music Videos, introducing the world of Sustainable Fashion in a gender-neutral way. In addition to all of this, Boseys has also dropped many pieces of clothing that have been worn by Indian Hip-Hop Rappers in their Music Videos, giving a platform for fans of even mid and long-tail artists.
One of Boseys' first music collaborations was with Spitdope Inc., a platform for all the emcees in Delhi to showcase their talent through Rap Battles and Cyphers. It was initially founded by Encore ABJ, Mc Snub & Abxom and other emcees by the city and has since been joined and supported by the Hip-Hop community in New Delhi, followed by the rest of the country. The platform was vital in creating a culture and community for Hip-Hop and Fashion, styling and identity were essential to how emcees presented themselves. This collaboration was the start of Boseys influence on Desi Hip-Hop.
Tanushree has previously worked with Hip-Hop labels and artists in different facets of Music, Fashion and Content Creation. Her ability to work comes from her drive and passion for the Culture. She did not only love the Music but spent time involving herself with the Culture that came from Hip-Hop, from Clothes to Sneakers to just the Music—understanding the context of the international Hip-Hop scenes and understanding what the local artists were trying to create through her involvement with platforms such as Spitdope and artists such as Sez on the Beat, Seedhe Maut, Rawal & Bharg etc. For her, this ensured authenticity at every stage. It is evident that understanding a culture and its nuances is the only way to promote it, i.e. an understanding that is very important to the art of styling and creating a visible identity.
Today, many artists in India have their own style and their own identity. Fans have an image they can replicate, the image of the Artist they relate to. Boseys has successfully created a community around Fashion and Music in India using Instagram to such an extent that all her drops sell out in seconds. Using creative talent, passion for Music and providing a platform for local Hip-Hop culture has opened new doors for rising Hip-Hop artists and their fan bases in India.
Creating more ways to make Fashion accessible and sustainable
One of the unique ways in which Boseys catered to her community was by curating different types of sustainable drops:
- Closet clearances and giveaways: In order to build the page up, Boseys started out with a few closet clearances as giveaways with Progressive Metal artist Yatin Srivastava and rapper Rawal. She also did a few artist giveaways, like an upcycled cap from Hip- Hop producer Sez on the Beat. However, now Boseys looks at gathering more curated, preloved vintage items for her community.
- Public use of pre-loved clothes: Using preloved clothes for styling Shoots, Live Performances and Music Videos that would later be available for fans to purchase meant that Artists began to use Thrifted and Vintage clothes for shoots instead of buying new clothes or having brand tie-ups promoting Fast Fashion. These clothes would then be returned and sold to the community that Boseys cultivated, giving more purpose to the reusing and recycling clothes.
Interestingly, collaborating with artists and bringing their fans into her community in a non-competing way has created a more significant Hip-Hop community. Fans are moving between Music and Fashion; the social noise and engagement have enabled a larger culture beyond Boseys or the artists themselves. The overlapping fandoms thus created between Music and Fashion played an essential role in the strong popularity of Hip-Hop in India.
The journey towards sustainability is never-ending but enables new ideas.
While Boseys is becoming the hub for the intersection between music culture and Fashion in India, Tanushree is still on a mission to make Boseys a truly sustainable company. Travelling over the country and sometimes the world to search for preloved, vintage clothing and being able to package efficiently has kept her up at night. Boseys summer collections will be going out in plastic-less packages, but she is still working on ways to pack winterwear without any plastic used. For Boseys, the next step is to reduce its carbon footprint and simultaneously make styling for artists cheaper. Hiring a stylist for a music video or a shoot is still a luxury many rising artists cannot afford. There's the stylist's fee and a sourcing budget; sometimes, artists require costume budgets.
Tanushree plans to merge them all under the Boseys brand and become a one-stop destination for styling under just one consultation fee, with everything available in-house.
In a world of fragmented fandom catering to the top, new authentic ideas benefit the rising
Tanushree refers to her impact on the community around Hip-Hop as a happy accident. However, she has paved the way for incredible new collaborations that activate opportunities, which in turn cultivates a new fandom avenue for artists in India, i.e.through Sustainable Fashion, generating Social content noise and engagement. Clear new ideas that break the usual industry formula, such as having a website and releasing merch regularly, can be expensive for Artists that have just begun to break through. Breaking these barriers through collaborations by understanding the community helps create new business ideas that enable growing Artists to nurture their community. Boseys is ahead of the curve, even with India's hundreds of thrift shops on Social media and offline.
The reason is a clear motive for creating a community and catering to a culture. In a country of over a billion people yet overall lacking the willingness to pay, Boseys has devised the perfect business model that makes Fashion and Music Culture accessible to the country's youth, a youth that is more sensitive to the implications of climate change and sustainability. In the end, it goes even beyond just Culture as it stands not just for authenticity but also has a very firm ideological message running within its core.
You can catch some of Boseys and Tansolo's work ranging from wardrobe partners and styling partners with a wide range of artists from India:
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Srishti Das is a music industry professional focused on bringing more light from new music markets and cultures. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss collaborations, projects to just have a chat!