Kolkata’s Ankita Gupta knew exactly what she was going to wear to the Backstreet Boys (BSB) concert on 4 May in Mumbai: all black, in contrast to the all-white outfits the band members are famous for.
“I thought of doing my own version in a contrasting way. My style is impulsive, yet out of the box. Sometimes I go all goth, sometimes I just wear pink,” says the 24-year-old designer. “I decide my outfit half an hour before leaving, though I create outfit boards on my Pinterest and try to follow that.” So keeping her Pinterest board and mood in mind, she paired a mesh top with a midi black skirt and a transparent belt. “I had cropped the black sheer shirt on my own, leaving it with fringes for an edgy look. I finished the look with a pair of black-heeled boots to help me watch the band from afar. Later, while dancing, my boots broke, and I was roaming around in my pink socks,” she says.
For many, dressing up for a concert is as important as getting a good spot to sit or stand at the venue and a nice angle for a photograph of the artists on stage. Of course, there are those who would prefer to wear weather-appropriate, comfortable garments and accessories, like cotton summer dresses, shorts and tees for hot and humid Mumbai.
Enthusiasts like Gupta like to take concertcore fashion to a fun, experimental level, as was visible at Nagaland’s Ziro Festival of Music last year, Mumbai’s Lollapalooza in January and the Backstreet Boys concerts in both Maximum City and Delhi. Keeping this in mind, we asked stylists and concert-goers about their preferences when it comes to concert fashion, given that crowd-pullers like Sonu Nigam and Sunidhi Chauhan are performing after a long time and festivals like the Bacardi NH7 Weekender will be coming up.
Many 1990s and Y2K trends are becoming popular again. “With current trends and OTT looks, I have been coming across a lot of Euphoria-inspired looks at concerts these days,” says celebrity stylist Reann Moradian. “Metallic eye make-up and face crystals, a lot of mesh and lace. It’s a place to express, enjoy and be free and I am all for it.”
For Kabeer Khan, 26, from Indore, Madhya Pradesh, it was important to stay comfortable while looking cool for the Backstreet Boys concert in Mumbai. So, he dyed his hair purple. Khan, a public relations professional, says: “You could be noticed so you have to experiment a bit. I even like to experiment with make-up. I like to add eyeshadow that matches the colour of my hair.”
Mumbai-resident Sakina Bootwala believes crochet, reasonably popular at concerts in the West, especially at Coachella in the US, is slowly getting some attention here. “Lockdown made it a popular hobby among the younger, TikTok/Instagram-oriented demographic. It’s not as much of a grandma hobby/fashion choice any more,” says the 25-year-old. “Harry Styles, who’s regularly seen in concerts and events wearing crochet, has been especially influential in making the style popular.”
Her partiality is quite understandable, for she makes custom crochet-based designs and sells them via Instagram. One of her recent creations was a Dua Lipa-inspired butterfly top, made for a Lollapalooza attendee in Mumbai.
One of the popular choices for concert fashion is merchandise. And that was the styleboard of Malika Bhavnani, 37, a communications specialist from Mumbai. She wanted a look that would commemorate the two famous BSB styles, all black or all white. “I picked an all-white old-school T-shirt and added a pop of colour with the pink sneakers. And of course, a fanny pack that had all the essentials—money, bug repellent, tissues and a can of pee-safe spray,” says Bhavnani.
If you too like to wear merch, Moradian suggests going the DIY route and chopping off the sleeves to make really low armholes to turn a T-shirt into a muscle tee. Wear it with shorts and sneakers, suggests the stylist. “You can grunge it up and wear leather pants or a leather jacket with your band tee, if the weather is appropriate. You can style merch casually with a pair of jeans or sweatpants. Even brighten it up with a bright coloured bottom, maybe even a print. Essentially, pick an easy breezy fabric, and you can always accessorise with key jewellery pieces— be it a stack of bangles or a neckpiece.”
Or wear a trendy outfit like a co-ord set, the way Pranay Jaitly, 29, a fashion stylist and co-founder of Who Wore What When, did for last week’s concert. “Keeping the weather in mind, it was a perfect day to wear shorts,” says Jaitly. He carried a hand fan to beat the heat. “The fan was the best wardrobe decision ever in this heat.”