FASHION: Punjabi cousins from Surrey launch T-shirt line that promotes cultural pride

Published: December 20, 2012

LARISSA CAHUTE 
VANCOUVER DESI

Baljit Gill and his cousin have come up with a clothing line to instil pride in the South Asian community. Here he is photographed with a selection of T-shirts. Mark van Manen, PNG

Baljit Gill is proud of his Punjabi roots.

But he’s tired of seeing his culture and traditions portrayed in a “tainted” light.

“Whenever we make the news it’s not for the good stuff,” he said.

But there’s a lot to be proud of in the South Asian community.

“We’ve got some good beliefs and values,” said Gill.

So he started up a clothing line, B-Coalition, which boasts a collection of graphic tees — designed by his cousin — with culturally tailored messages — something to sport with pride.

When Gill and his cousin launched the line six months ago, they wanted to make sure they stood out from all the Indo-tailored clothing they’d seen already.

“We felt a lot of it was stereotypical,” said Gill. “We decided enough was enough, so we started something up with a little more substance and meaning and pride.

“We want to bring something out there that’s classy and presents our culture — there’s a message of pride, instilling values, morals, our cultural roots.”

The line features a History collection with T-shirts based on historical individuals, and a District collection with a shirt for each district in Punjab.

South Asian T-shirts

B-Coalition founder Baljit Gill holds up a shirt with a graphic that riffs off of a Jay-Z song – it reads ‘I got 99 problems but my turban ain’t one.’ Mark van Manen, PNG

And their latest tee reads “I’m not Punjabi because I was born in Punjab, but that Punjab was born in me.”

For Gill, B-Coalition is more than just clothing or fashion — it’s a movement.

“It’s getting in touch with your cultural roots,” he said.

And Gill believes that’s where many of the problems stem from in the South Asian community — people are disconnected from their roots, from their parents and grandparents — especially the younger generation.

“Because of that disconnect, people are finding other ways to fill that void — by the negative friends … doing stupid things, like joining a gang,” said Gill. “You have Indo-Canadians killing Indo-Canadians — for what?”

He’s hoping to make a change, so youth will instead fill that void with pride in their culture, learning Punjabi, learning about their history.

“We’re trying to instill pride in our community … to hopefully get people reconnected with our roots,” said Gill.

Browse or shop online at b-coalition.com

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