Singh Street Style is a fashion blog centred around photography of Singhs (male Sikhs) wearing fun and colourful clothing. It has been refreshing to see images you rarely see otherwise – we’re all bored of seeing the devolved-looking ‘caveman-Singh’ that somebody seems to have gone out of their way to make look butters!
Launching in March earlier this year, in the relatively short space of six months Singh Street Style has grown to exceptional heights utilising Facebook, Instagram and Twitter exceptionally well to create interest and support from a worldwide audience. There is a truly global awareness of the blog’s existence. I travelled to the US this summer and it was surprising to hear how many Americans knew about it – it’s been quite a phenomenon. And it’s not just in the West – searching for the hashtag ‘#singhstreetstyle’ on Instagram pulls up tonnes of Indians who are desperate to be featured posing in similar styles.
A closer look at comments on the blog and photographs shared elsewhere online reveals that social commentators have a ‘marmite relationship’ with Singh Street Style – either they love it or they hate it. There are some who disrespect the models and clothing in the most disgustingly ignorant ways using words like ‘gay’ but then there are others totally inspired and in awe using phrases like ‘looking good ;)’. But for once this movement is going a lot further than just amongst the community. The blog has been featured by a number of media outlets, including the Vogue fashion magazine, The Guardian newspaper, the Asian Fashion Journal and the Asia society all of whom have lauded the initiative.
There is an important question to answer here: although Singh Street Style showcases fashion, is it Sikh fashion? Without sounding too Punjabi-centric, I’d like to see more shawls, maujeh (pointed, curled-tip shoes) and beards, and fewer bright-coloured shorts with blazers (the latter photo makes me feel like a polar bear in a sauna!) And don’t get me started on skinny jeans, just thinking about them hurts my manhood! There are many Singhs and Sikhs out there who have their own street style to showcase. Perhaps it would be good for the site to mix it up more often with different types of Singh-fashion? There seems to only be one type of ‘fashion’ appearing and that is one geared towards the middle classes and those comfortable in checked shirts with bow ties.
I’m also unsure if the models featured really dress like that on a daily basis. Overall I’m sure they do, but sometimes it feels like they got a telephone call the night before and so made an extra effort, perhaps going a little too far with accessories just for the shoot. I’d love to see more shots of every day Sikhs showing their quirkiness and more importantly not just men – there’s enough male-centric media for Sikhs already!
The exposure Singh Street Style has garnered has clearly helped the fashion World learn that there are these people called Sikhs and they don’t fear standing out. The blog has also encouraged an open discussion about what the Sikh way of life says about our attire and what fashion means to Sikhs. Sadly for now that conversation has been limited to social media, which is extremely limiting. It’d be great to see some of these discussions on how a Sikh can/should dress happening in community-organised face-to-face discussions. For many Sikhs, Singh Street Style has reminded them to express themselves through their garments and wear what feels right, and that is a great achievement in its own right.