Sikh And Ye Shall Find: The Indo-Prep Style of Gagan Singh

Lisa Birnbach’s “True Prep” raised plenty of Old-Guard eyebrows with its inclusiveness. Whereas 1980’s “The Official Preppy Handbook” was WASPy to the core, the sequel opens the club to black, Asian, gay and Muslim preps as Birnbach declares “It’s a whole new old world.”

As an example that those flying the preppy flag in 21st century America are from all walks of life, meet Gagan Singh. The 21-year-old NYU finance and marketing student was born in New Jersey to Indian parents and is fond of true-blue American style. And if you though wearing a striped watchband added an extra component to dressing, just imagine getting to color coordinate a turban every day.

Ivy Style tracked down Singh for an interview after spying him on The Style Blogger. Here’s what he had to say. — CC

* * *

IS: How did you get into clothes?

GS: I never really thought I would be interested in fashion, but my dad works in the industry and I guess it rubbed off on me. Plus, with so much on the Internet it’s hard to not get sucked into the world of style blogs. I just like things that are made well and look great, whether they’re clothes or anything else.

IS: What do you like about traditional American style?

GS: Traditional American or preppy style is distinct, versatile and simple. I don’t need to worry if what I am wearing is appropriate because it fits into any type of setting. It is easily dressed up or down. If I am wearing an OCBD, I can throw on a blazer and tie to dress it up, or roll up the sleeves to just relax. The simplicity factor is huge. Most of the stuff that is considered preppy or traditional American doesn’t go out of style because it just works. That’s not to say that it is boring: There’s always the vast amount of go-to-hell items to change things up.

IS: What classic items are your favorites?

GS: My classic favorites are Oxford-cloth buttondowns, penny loafers and my Sperry Top-Siders — I wear those almost all the time and everywhere.

IS: How do people, both Sikh and non-Sikh, react to your turban combined with a fashionable appearance?

GS: It’s interesting. It’s all about perceptions in my opinion. I match my turban with my clothes because it’s a simple thing, but it makes a big impact and people notice it.

For non-Sikh people, mostly everyone thinks it is very cool on how I keep in touch with my roots while staying stylish. Sometimes I’ll come across people who don’t know who Sikhs are and stereotype me, but in New York most are usually used to the different mix of people.

However, the reaction varies with Sikh people. The turban thing is obviously normal, we don’t really make a big deal out of it. But being stylish does stick out, as it does within all communities. There is a wide spectrum in the way people dress: My grandfather’s generation was influence by British colonialism in India, and I see that with the way they dress. Overall, though, with my friends, the style leans more to towards prep side than anything else.

Images 1 and 3 courtesy of The Style Blogger.

16 Comments on "Sikh And Ye Shall Find: The Indo-Prep Style of Gagan Singh"

  1. This could also lead to a new trend in literature.
    The DhammaTRADa the BaghaTRAD Gita.

  2. I dig it, good for him.

  3. His Ivy is solid and, most importantly, simple. I like the look and those go-to-hell pants are perfect.

  4. Wow a Trad Desi! I’m floored!

    As an Hindu Indian (no turban for me) guy in the Midwest, I thought I was the only “brown guy” who cared about his appearance. I am the only guy at work who regularly wears a tie and probably the only guy who regularly polishes his more than one pair of dress shoes. Thank you you so much for highlighting Mr. Singh… proof that Asians can bring steez like anyone else.

  5. Admirable Carp | June 20, 2011 at 8:12 pm |

    The Japanese never quite get it right, but Gagan did.

  6. Gagan has his Ivy on lock! I wonder if papa Singh has Ivy style!

  7. I just read his interview on TSB. I have to say that the idea of a “go-to-hell” turban is pure genius. Innovation should still be functional. That far surpasses wearing boat shoes in Manhattan in February or sporting velvet slippers outside the house.

  8. I love Gagan’s style. Whether he wears a turban or not makes no difference to me. Now what would be great would be a regimental stripe turban to complete the look. There could be some nice parity between tie and tubran.

    Being from London, England (an extremely multicultural city) I love to see how different cultures, especially 2nd, 3rd, 4th generations interpret English style.

    There’s a British television presenter and writer named Hardeep Singh Kohli who accessorises with his turban a lot, looks great.

  9. Drew Poling | June 21, 2011 at 10:16 am |

    I think the cross-cultural, cross-pollination of prep is great and am greatly heartened to see it adopted and so dashingly adapted by those who aren’t members of the (stereo)typical WASP or WASP-adjacent ethnic pool.

    My only cavils with Mr. Singh’s look are

    1. The fit. I would hope that, as he ages and continues to invest more in his wardrobe that he seeks out a better cut of jackets and, particularly, trousers that will flatter his body shape.

    2. The high roll of his pants. This really is NY/hipster/nouveau “prep” which is seeming increasingly dated and played out. I’m all for exposed ankles (especially when the trousers have been actually _tailored_ and cuffed), but this excessive rolling is neither mature nor classic (nor, to echo my thoughts above, flattering when the pants have such a low rise, such a trim fit, and worn by someone a bit thick in the middle).

  10. @ Drew Poling

    I have to admit, I’m with you on the cuffed pants. I do like the look, but I think it has to be pulled off just right. I like it the most with a white topsider, but I think the type of pant is most important. I’m not a big fan of it when there is space between the ankle and cuff. I think it looks best with a slim straight fit through the thighs and rolled tight to the leg, exposing a little over half of the ankle. I think it’s best when it looks like no effort or thought was put into it. However, I think that takes more effort and thought than just cuffing them 2 or 3 times.

    Great post and great pictures though.

  11. Hilarious!

    Ivy Style has truly “jumped the shark”.

    An obversation: it’s rather true-to-type, is it not, that a woman named “Birnbach” would “open the club” to blacks, Asians, gays, and Muslims.

    Oh, and Sikhs.

    How utterly typical.

    This is becoming parody.

  12. I’ve never bothered to post before, but I had to today… The Fogey really is proud of his racism, isn’t he? IS “jumped the shark” because the site mentioned someone else? Tell you what, Fogey, sounds like a better place for you to visit. Spend your time there.

  13. Well, much of downtown NY is about playing dressup…

  14. BlazersKhakisNattys | July 3, 2011 at 7:28 pm |

    The jump was made with the orphaned suit coat, and cleared with the outlet clearance rack faux-varsity jacket.

    Oh, that’s right. The Obamas are preps now.

  15. HappyDaysMoment | July 6, 2011 at 4:29 am |

    So let’s recap today’s lesson:

    Fabric from Madras – good.
    People from Madras – bad.

    you guys!

  16. Prep School Kid | August 20, 2011 at 1:02 am |

    I’m Indian, and the way I got exposed to ivy style was from attending a prep school. Even then, most of the Indians I know dress semi-ivy, like polos and jeans and sperrys to dinner parties, and then tailored suits to weddings. However, I’m probably the only one among my indian friends who knows about nantucket reds and OBCDs, haha!

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