I’m a sucker for colors. When colors are combined correctly, they pop and sizzle like bacon on a griddle, and bring a silly grin to my happy face. In this regard, I do appreciate India-based design label Play Clan. The brain-child of Founder Himanshu Dogra, Play Clan is a brand that cranks out products adorned with a spring meadow explosion of color. Their products range from men’s and women’s clothes and accessories to home décor and stationary. Play Clan has collaborated with the likes of Addidas, Paul Smith, and Absolut to create vibrant mash-ups of art meets merchandise.
Himanshu started Play Clan in 2008, “…with a simple idea of noting everyday observations and expressing them in product design through graphics and illustration. Simply put, making mundane, magical,” Himanshu tells us. Play Clan began humbly with a 300 square foot store in Delhi, and drew inspiration from the streets around him. Himanshu started the playful company to with the intention to mirror the wealth of life and culture of his country that he affectionately calls the “New India”. New India is an India that is not stuck in the old ethnic styles and stereotypes. “India is a treasure trove, full of life and vivacity, and we just plugged into that.”
Play Clan creates their products with a team of graphic-designers who conceptualize, create, manufacture and retail through their own stores in India. These designers have a strong focus on storytelling through design. Themes include the daily sights and sounds of India, the traffic, the bustling population and more. Play Clan has dresses adorned with busy markets and telephone wires, handbags with the visages of the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, and boxer shorts patterned with a Bollywood heartthrob. Play Clan does this without tapping into the generic and dated styles of Indian art, but instead with influences of graffiti, caricatures, and doodles. Himanshu sees this whimsical style and storytelling as a major reason why customers have been connecting with the products, and a major reason why Play Clan has been successful so far. “We have been able to strike a chord with our customer and offer them delight that surpasses price, quality, and need by connecting with the cultural context in an illustrative narrative. Success for us is to see a smile on the customers face and a deeper appreciation of the subject that we are dealing with.”
Himanshu sees room for growth by expanding beyond the borders of India, in hopes of bringing these stories to the world. In fact Play Clan has just opened a store in Russia, and was a part of Tokyo Fashion week in India.
Play Clan’s style is best gleaned through browsing their websites. I suggest talking the time to read some of the product descriptions, which give a little story behind the design on each item. Each story is a little snippet into the world of Himanshu Dogra and Play Clan’s New India. Take a look, read the story, and get inspired.