Pride Merch 2021 commemorates a coming of age T-shirt series by Label Ankita Jain. The label took off in 2019, and it marked its second anniversary in May 2021. Ankita Jain, the body and brain behind the label, is an alumni of the Pearl Academy. With the companionship of her queer tribe, their thoughts and fashion impressions influenced her to experiment with her design language.
In 2020, when she first launched the Pride Merch, in lieu of releasing merchandise, she and her team went around interviewing non-binary people. This helped them in articulating and understanding their struggles through these conversations. The Pride Merch 2020 was colorful, with an underlying happy and cheery theme.
In contrast, Pride Merch 2021 manifests a real picture of the LGBTQI community through these t-shirts. There is solitude in a dark place, with a friend by your side, which resonates truly with the emotions and sentiments of the community. There is a calmness and liberation in the artwork that follows. The t-shirt demands ‘Do You Hear Me Now?’ which is then contrasting to the loud roar of the popular rainbow merch in the market.
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Ankita Jain envisions her brand to be a safe haven for the community in all possible ways. Beyond her annual Pride Series, her team represents varying members of the community through employment generation. They also actively include transgender models in their campaigns. One such example is Shanaya Tamang.
This annual Pride Series runs in the month of June celebrating how far they have collectively come. This year, Label Ankta Jain has collaborated with queer artist Veer Misra to create a T-shirt that shows an escape, freedom, empathy and above all, love.
Veer Misra is an illustrator from New Delhi. His work attempts to thematically explore love, masculinity, mental health and intimacy as part of queer storytelling. In addition to his illustrative work, Veer also curates and publishes a monthly newsletter of essays and art by South Asian members of the queer community called Mush. He also interviews creative experts for his podcast The Tuesday Wine Club. He says,
“I like creating classically romantic images but through a queer lens. This illustration, at its core, is nothing more than an escape into a dreamscape. At the end of everything, the only thing that makes anyone human is the way we’re able to express empathy, support and obviously, love.”
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Most importantly, they are collectively donating 50% of all profits to Santa Khurai’s campaign for helping transgender people in Imphal. The remaining 50% of profits is being equally divided by the artist and the brand.
Ankita Jain is also an artist who loves to paint on jeans fabrics. Parallel to her Pride Merch 2021 series, you can find her Love is Love denim jacket which is based on the principle of upcycling. Similarly, you can find her Equalist jacket collection with ‘Equalist’ embellished on the back.
Ankita mentions a possibility of starting a simultaneous segment dedicated to gender-neutral fashion. She believes that an absence of queer clientele in her present collection may find solace in this Capsule segment. She also states that an Indian brand that inspires her is Huemn which caters to unisex handmade statement clothing.
If you are looking for pride gear this pride month, here is your chance to get your hands on Pride Merch 2021.