The Dastar ("turban" in Punjabi) is an ancient article of faith that all initiated Sikh men must wear to protect their uncut hair. In more contemporary times, however, turbans have been transformed into glamour symbols for mid-century Hollywood starlets, motifs in collections shown at Fashion Week, and disguises for bad hair days.
Now, faith and fashion are seamlessly joined in Singh Street Style, a three-month-old street style blog that began as founder Pardeep Singh Bahra's personal fashion diary but soon expanded to showcase the sartorial exploits of other sharply dressed British Sikh men. Asia Blog spoke to the Essex resident and recent university graduate via e-mail.
Describe the moment when you decided to capture the style of young Sikh men through photography. What did you hope to achieve with the blog, and how are you spreading the word?
I wanted to show the individuality between each Singh through not only the way they dress, but also the way they tie their turban, and I wanted to highlight how the turban complements the outfit, but also gives the Singh more character. I wanted to also give everyone around the world a new way to look at fashion, and to hopefully open doors for Singhs with turbans that want to get into fashion. I also want to encourage young Singhs to take pride in wearing a turban.
How do you decide who to photograph? How do you find your subjects?
I either stop people on the street, or people email me or people suggest Singhs that they feel have good style.
What are your thoughts on how designers are incorporating turban-inspired headwear into their collections? Have you seen more Sikh men embracing the Dastar in their personal style?
I think it's good to embrace different cultures, and to fuse different cultures together. It's a beautiful thing to see. Recently I have noticed people are taking more pride in their turban.
In what other ways has your Sikh heritage impacted you?
It has taught me to love all people from different backgrounds and faiths, but also taught me that I was personally born to stand out and to look different. It taught me to be compassionate but also fearless.
What are your plans for Singh Street Style and yourself going forward?
Spreading the message of love, positivity and equality and hopefully continuing to give back to the Sikh community.