1947IND, a lifestyle clothing brand based in Bengaluru, celebrates Indian sub-cultures. Founded by Sowjanya Prabhu and Rajeeva Mahalinga in 2018, it recently became the first of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) licensed merchandisers to launch a collection of ISRO themed products.
In a candid chat with The Daily Guardian, the founders explain their vision for 1947IND and express their excitement about their new ISRO collection. Excerpts:
Q. Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Sowjanya: I’m an engineer by profession but I had always been inclined towards fashion and art. Rajeeva is a UI/UX designer and typographic artist, who works as a consultant for Fortune 500 companies. Both of us love to travel, and when we visited countries abroad, we noticed that each destination had its own branding to attract tourism. They would create ‘pride merchandise’ that would appeal to citizens and tourists alike. We felt this should be attempted in India too. So, we began making city-specific merch for the residents of those cities and visitors from outside.
Q. Why did you decide to create a streetwear brand?
Rajeeva: Streetwear and athleisure were our main choice for our fashion merch at 1947IND because they appeal to a younger generation. We also noticed the dearth of brands in this space in India. We currently offer fashion products like t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, drop-shoulder t-shirts, but we are also working on developing scale models, books for kids, collectables, board games and fashion accessories like fanny packs, tote bags, pouches, etc. In the long run, we’d like to get into athleisure as well as university and sports-inspired merch.
Q. What is the story behind your name and the tiger mascot?
Sowjanya: 1947 represents the year we gained Independence, and IND, of course, is short for India. We believe the name represents an independent and confident India. Rajeeva came up with this because we wanted a name with a pan-Indian appeal.
Rajeeva: As for our mascot, we were keen on a character that would represent our project, as well as the values and attitude we stand for. Our values include self-reliance, respect, sustainability and durability. To depict these, we decided to go for a gender-fluid anime-like mascot. The tiger was an easy option as that is our national animal.
Q. Tell us about your latest ISRO inspired collection? Has it resonated with your customers?
Sowjanya: We often see NASA inspired merch in pop culture — on TV through American Sitcoms, and celebrities wearing them while out and about. Despite the many noteworthy achievements of this organisation, we felt that Indians don’t wear much ISRO themed merch. We have been working on these designs over the past year assuming we’ll get permission from ISRO for licensing, and it thankfully happened — a classic case of “Luck is when preparation meets an opportunity!”. To celebrate this collaboration, our team at 1947IND has coined the term ‘ISRONAUT’, to signify anyone who is passionate about Space Research and proud of the achievements of ISRO.
Rajeeva: So far, we have received a lot of positive feedback on our ISRO Merch and also some constructive feedback about what customers would like to see in our upcoming designs. Incorporating these suggestions, we are coming up with a range of new designs and product lines very soon.
Q. What was the reason behind launching this specific project?
Rajeeva: ISRO is at par with the best space research agencies around the world. However, Indians seem interested in ISRO’s activities only when a space launch or an event is happening. Merchandising is a great way to create advocacy for the brand ISRO, and this will also help to connect the youth in our country with the Indian diaspora abroad.
Q. How can one access your collections?
Sowjanya: Our products are currently available on our website www.1947ind.com, which is our primary channel for sale. We’re already on Amazon, and will be on Flipkart, Bewakoof, Ajio, and other channels shortly. We also have a strong social media presence, and most of our marketing takes place through digital mediums. Celebrity collaborations with the likes of Ranveer Singh, Danish Sait, Ritviz, Alok Babu of @all_ok_official, and Mihir Joshi have also worked for us.
Rajeeva: We also plan on expanding to physical retail very soon starting with a store in Bengaluru.
Q. According to you, what is the essence of being Indian in the 21st century and how do your clothes reflect your beliefs?
Sowjanya: India is a young country with a vibrant culture and an entrepreneurial nature. We believe the 21st century is ours, and we want our clothing to reflect our confidence.
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