Behind the Scenes w/ Dleak Bowties & Singh In the City
Fashion designers, Darrick Leak of DLeak Leather Bow-ties and Sunny Singh of Singh in the City have been using fashion, culture, and photography as their vessels to promote positivity. HNOW was behind the scenes of their latest photo shoot in Brooklyn, NY, which features 5 different women adorned with Singh turbans and DLeak Bow-ties. Under the creative direction of Marshalle C. and styling by Heather Jones, I watched their vision of unity stop NYC traffic! I was able to grab them to ask a few questions about this Vision. Read their stories below.
1. What was the Inspiration behind the shoot?
Darrick: This photoshoot is a continuation of another photo-shoot Singh and I did with our Creative Director, Marshalle C. last month which featured men with different distinctive looks coming together and embracing one another through fashion. Each man is pictured wearing dapper clothing accessorized with Singh Turbans and DLeak Leather bow ties. As a team we knew if we were able to pull together 5 men we surely could do the same with 5 women. With all of the negative representations of women in the world we just wanted to do it for the ladies in a positive way.
How important is culture to you?
Singh: Culture is important because it influences an individual’s life, values, views, desires, and fears. Acceptance of culture brings a sense of social responsibility, and as a Sikh, it is my responsibility to reject all distinctions of caste, creed, race or sex. In Sikhism, men and women are treated equally. This is why we take pride in training our clients as to how to wrap turbans the right way. If we can learn how to tie a neck tie, bow tie, scarf, shoe laces, then why not turbans? These are all cultural teachings.
Why is it important to portray your life and culture through fashion? What message do you want people to take away from these images?
Singh: I think when you put culture and fashion together, you create a fusion that connects everyone. You relate to each others somehow and this allows us to seamlessly embrace our differences. I often ask myself, “Why do people dress the way they dress?” I learned that bringing your own culture into fashion shows how confident you are about yourself and it shows who you truly are. I bring the culture where ever I go because I always wear a Turban. It gives me a distinctive look, unlike anyone in a crowd. When I wear my turban, I am reminded that I have my Sikh royal duties to fulfill, which are to respect others and stand up for justice.
Darrick: I want people to look at these images and change the way they view one another. "Embrace your sister." was the theme we were going for. Beauty comes in all shades, shapes and forms.. To see women who do not look the same unifying with things that might separate them will be a beautiful sight to see and interpret. Fashion is one thing people can agree on. They may not agree on politics or religion but if something looks good people like it.
How important was it to portray women in your turbans?
Singh: I really wanted to have women in turbans to portray bravery, self-confidence and beauty. Sikh women are considered to be Queens and Princesses of the Royal Sikh faith; and wear turbans with dignity and style every day. Sikh women have fought alongside men in war to protect the faith and the Sikh kingdom with their turbans on. When we put a turban on these women, they all belong to the family which represents the Queens and Princesses of the world. I believe that you can break any social barriers and stereotypes with fashion.
Darrick: It was very important to feature women wearing my bow ties in this shoot because people associate bow ties with men. Bow ties can be worn by any gender for any occasion. I am one to always push the envelope. I’m always looking for innovative and refreshing ways to display my ties. In this shoot in particular, I made the ties slightly smaller so they could be a bit more feminine. I wanted the women to feel sexy as if it was a piece of jewelry on their necks.
Tell me more about your line, Singh.
Singh: Singh In The City is a New York based brand found in 2015. I felt a void in the fashion industry where turbans should be. "Singh” represents the warrior and royal castes of northern India, specifically the Sikh Khalsa. I wanted to bring turbans to the general audience because we all have royalty within us and I wanted to make sure my turbans brings that royalty to the light. Entrepreneurship had always been my goal and I'm achieving this through my turban line. Soon I will be bringing more products under Singhinthecity such as Ties and Turban Jewels.
Have you received negative feedback regarding turbans in the fashion industry?
Singh: People have the freedom to wear and style their own clothes, so they can be comfortable. You don’t have to be Sikh to wear a turban. Most of my clients actually make efforts to reach out to me or learn to develop their own turban styles. Why wear a same style head wrap that everyone can buy off the shelves when you can actually wear a real turban that Kings wore in their times, and Singhs continue to wear presently as part of their daily lives. Pre-made turbans are hats. Singh In The City turbans are not pre made. We take pride in training our clients as to how to wrap turbans the right way. We also extend our services to go our client’s events to help tie a turban correctly.Check out the video on our website that shows how to properly tie a Singh In The City Turban.
Darrick and Singh continued to support the women's empowerment movement by working with Heather Jones of Trunk Show Consignment. The designers reached out to Heather and pitched an idea that took two weeks of planning for the guys, and became an overnight assignment for her that she was happy to take lead of. "I love the androgynous look, to me it speaks of women's empowerment. Whatever the boys can do, girls can do too. This project became a cultural melting pot the moment they decided to blend so many different dividing factors. This is great."
What has this collaboration taught you as a creative?
Darrick: This collaboration has taught me that everyone sees things differently but can work together for one common goal. It is important to keep your mind open. My team and I don’t always agree with each other but we always we respect one another’s opinions and we come to an agreement. Many people do not know how to work collectively. I love the way we all work together. I think that this collaboration has taught me its okay to take a back seat and take turns driving. It doesn't matter what you believe in, creativity and art within our cultures are the forces that bring us together.
Darrick Leak and Sunny Singh brought an idea to life and used it to share a positive message. They used their talents and culture to show that you can be phenomenal and have your presence be felt the same way these women did. In most fashion spreads, women are hiding behind hair, or props to convey beauty or femininity. These queens didn't need any of that as they had drivers forgetting they were waiting for the light, or pedestrians turn their heads until they were too far to keep watching. To see official photos and to stay updated with Singh in the City, click here. To keep up with DLeak Leather Bowties, click here.