top of page

Lee X Suneet Varma's Collaboration Brings An Indian Flair To Denim

Arushi Sakhuja

They say you can slip into your favourite pair of denim whenever you're in doubt. And while the statement holds true more often than not, when it comes to haute couture, denim sometimes fails to set the bar high.  In a refreshing turn of events, Denim Beyond Definition a collaboration between Lee and Indian design maestro, Suneet Varma is the story of the confluence between denim and Indian couture, thus redefining the boundaries of this versatile fabric that once remained a repertoire of our daily wear wardrobe. This innovative partnership redefines the constraints of denim, transforming it from a staple of everyday wear to a canvas for high fashion expression.

The story started when the Lee team stumbled upon Varma's exquisite aesthetic and craftsmanship shortly after he unveiled his couture collection Mogra at the FDCI Couture Week in July 2023. As for the Indian designer, he needs no introduction; renowned for his grandeur, opulence, mastery of silhouette construction, and innate ability to infuse glamour into his creations, Varma epitomizes timeless fashion. The designer who is perceived as a very conscientious person when it comes to being able to deliver, has had a number of collaborations in the last 30 years of his career. With a track record spanning collaborations across continents over his illustrious career, from Judith Leiber in America to BMW in India and Swarovski in Austria, Varma effortlessly transcends borders with his unmistakable Indian flair. Hence, infusing an Indian flair across borders comes naturally to the designer. Therefore, when the collaboration materialized, Varma imbued Lee's garments with his trademark attributes: inherent sexiness, youthful energy, and vibrant charisma, thereby enhancing Lee's apparel with a quintessential Suneet Varma touch. Sharing his perspective, Suneet Varma said, "For me 'Denim beyond definition' has been an exciting journey of pushing the boundaries of denim fashion. Beyond the challenges inherent in molding denim and merging it with Indian couture, I viewed it as a tremendous opportunity to do something new. It goes beyond the conventional, offering a unique blend of elegance and comfort."

The result breathed a new life into the fabric, and created statement denim pieces that transition from everyday wear to red-carpet-ready looks, giving denim a new definition. Undoubtedly a challenging fabric to work with, Varma seamlessly took up the battle and adapted to the fabric's nature. He looked to the past for inspiration and his drawing board comprised pop cultural denim-dressing. "I had to bring the Suneet Varma aesthetic to Lee," said the designer. He further went on to say, " Lee is a brand that's mostly known for its menswear, with only a few pieces available in womenswear. Overall the brand is rough and tough and leans towards sportswear and casual wear, with the collaboration I made denim evening wear. The Suneet Varma flair comes through with pieces that are sexy, sensuous, young, vibrant, and quite cool. They work as great separates and you can pair them with your old clothes or wear them with your future outfits. " Hence, even though the denim pieces are the underline of this collection, Varma says that his ideology behind it is that clothes are forever.

In a celebration of contemporary silhouettes, the Denim Beyond Definition collection by Lee and Suneet Varma presents a fusion of softer denim, lending a sense of flow and fluidity perfect for the summer months. Digital prints adorn jackets, skirts, and pants, while touches of gold foil and intricate embellishments elevate denim from its traditional roots to haute couture status. From fringe skirts to crop tops, featuring cutout detailing and oversized bows on tube tops, alongside bell bottoms adorned with patchwork, the collection seamlessly marries Indian craftsmanship with denim, exuding charm, elegance, and timeless allure.

Varma's signature style shines through in the meticulous embellishments, intricate threadwork, and mesmerizing mirrorwork adorning staples like corsets, bell-bottom jeans, dresses, and maxi skirts. The colour palette, inspired by denim's iconic hue, revolves around various shades of blue, ranging from deep indigo to classic navy blue and lighter, ethereal tones. Speaking about the fabrics utilized, Varma explained, "The fabrics ranged from stretch denim to semi-stretch with digital printing, embellished with gold leaf, and chambray for lighter, breezier silhouettes. Given the focus on women's wear, a significant amount of lycra was incorporated into these denim pieces for added comfort and flexibility."

While the collection featured a predominance of womenswear, menswear also had a stronghold in the collection. Men's fashion enthusiasts were treated to an array of offerings, including digital printed shirts, cargo-inspired jeans, caps, ties, patchwork separates, and vest-style zipped jackets. Across the collection, the interplay of various shades of blue takes centre stage, with digital prints ranging from classic plaids to whimsical zig-zags and florals. Dark blue denim vest jackets are contrasted with light blue 3D pockets, while metallic denim adds a touch of contemporary flair to the runway. Among the standout pieces, one that captured attention was the tiger print sleeveless jacket, reminiscent of hand-painted artistry, paired effortlessly with a fanny pack.

Turning our focus to womenswear, short dresses dazzled with fringed sequin hemlines, while embellished digital print corsets found companionship with fringe skirts. Jumpsuits received a playful makeover with floral embellishments and sequins, while denim shirt dresses exuded sophistication with pearl detailing near the buttons. Particularly noteworthy were the thread and mirror-work skirts, printed denim pants adorned with floral prints and accentuated with sequins and metallic accents, and a stunning full-beaded top. A key ensemble that stole the spotlight was the denim co-ord set, comprising an off-shoulder, Swarovski-embellished, v-neck crop top paired elegantly with a matching embellished denim long skirt featuring a front slit and a long train. This ensemble serves as a testament to the notion that denim can be given a flair of couture impeccably.

After a few months of hard work, the Lee X Suneet Varma collection has come to life. The veteran says, “I hope the garments will be liked by people as much as I enjoyed crafting them."


bottom of page