By Kartik Mahajan

The fascination I have had for t-shirts for many years now, is insatiable. I have been ‘collecting’ t-shirts for a long time – ranging from limited run Rolling Stones t-shirts, to t-shirts signed by football players; the collection keeps growing. A few months ago, I came across Contraband. Contraband makes t-shirts out of Mumbai, but fortunately are delivering in Delhi as well. I had been waiting awhile for their online shop to start retailing, and now that they’re up and running, I am disturbingly excited about buying new stuff for the summer.

Contraband was started by Ravi Rana and Valmik Babbar, who have been friends for years. Ravi is a graphics designer who strangely started off as a copywriter in O&M, and Valmik, with a background in 3D animation, has just always had an artistic bend. I have had the chance to meet and hang out with both of them, and what I can also tell you about them is that they are total metal-heads too! The idea of creating a t-shirt brand came from the teenagers inside them that have been fascinated with dragons, sci-fi, monsters and art work that is fuelled by fantasy. Sure it’s possible to make posters and lie in bed and stare at them, but there are a billion canvases out there; wardrobe staples that are open to anything – then why not put a dragon right there? If you watch a couple of the recent Pentagram videos {including the one we featured just a few weeks ago} you will notice Vishal Dadlani wearing a Contraband design, and Randolph wearing a Contraband t-shirt every now and then, when making an appearance. Their fan following certainly is growing, and in the right direction.

Between the 2 of them, they have enough t-shirts for an army! Their personal collections are made up of a whole variety of designs, ranging from fan-boy band t-shirts from Kiss, Metallica, Megadeth, Peter Gabriel and on and on. Valmik is a big fan of superhero tees and also The Last Exit To Nowhere {a UK based T-shirt company}. These vast collections is what helped them realise that t-shirts are the staple wardrobe of the Indian male {especially those who don’t take themselves too seriously}. There was a time when finding great t-shirts in India was impossible. The choice was either between t-shirts with incredibly corny and cheesy lines on them, or super high-end stuff. The ‘upwardly mobile’ Indian changed that. Increasingly, we are beginning to appreciate art and culture from around the world and within India, and the willingness to experiment or explore the new and untested is where brands like Contraband are carving a space for themselves.

Contraband Deviant and Damn Good Looking | Contraband Clothing

The line is currently only for men, though a number of female customers have done the job on these t-shirts with scissors, so they can wear them themselves. Contraband isn’t out to spread a message; the art is the message, and sure is super cool looking.

Notes in our Little Black Book |

Contraband does t-shirts with crazy cool graphics that are fuelled by fantasy, and have recently started retailing in Delhi. The collections cater specifically to men, though they’re so cool, enough girls are ‘cutting’ them down to size, so they can wear them!


Price: INR 699

Check them out on Facebook here and on Instagram here.


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