AADHE : A colourful expression of love and duality
“I choose me.”
“I love myself.”
“It wasn’t your fault.”
Bold statements when read aloud. Even more so when presented as bright, intensely artistic prints on a t-shirt, tote-bag or art piece.
Strong introspective statements, splashes of spirited colour, with a gentle clash of necessary authenticity, is what AADHE and founder Aman Gill (they/them) are all about. AADHE is a Toronto-based streetwear unisex lifestyle brand with a semi-international splash – using vibrant colours and stimulating statements in all their unique sustainable clothing, accessories, stationery, and artwork.
Duality and intersectionality, by design.
Exploration of colour and extremes in AADHE’s products comes directly from the duality and non-binary experience and background of its Owner and Creative Director, Aman Gill. ‘Aadhe’ means ‘half’ in Punjabi and was named in reflection of the dual culture from which Aman comes – half Punjabi, half Canadian. “Punjabi culture is so bright! I come from this super colourful culture,” Aman explains. “I knew I would find a way to include this in my work in Canada.”
Aman continues, saying that the mix of colour and light are almost culturally-ingrained. Both Holi, as a celebration of colour, and Diwali, as a festival of light, are honoured throughout the Punjabi and many South Asian communities and regions. “There is not enough bright colour in Canada,” Aman asserts. “Being alive is colour to me!”
Exploring harmonies and contrasts between Punjabi, Canadian, and the 2SLGBTQI+ communities, Aman finds inspiration in cultural intersectionality and visual expression. “The queer community is the same,” Aman explains. “I think we understand how important expression and the vibrant use of colour is to life.”
The vibrancy of the 2SLGBTQI+ community has continued to be a source of inspiration and personal safety for Aman as they develop the business and products for AADHE. “I was in this place about five years ago – I got divorced, came out,” Aman explains, adding that they are also a single parent. “Who I am is constantly evolving and I wanted to find more of my queer community. More people who understood where I was coming from.”
Being queer and getting divorced are both considered highly taboo in Punjabi culture. “But it’s all part of my art and identity,” explains Aman. “I am always asking, how has duality affected me? How can I express that in a way that connects with others’ experiences?”
Self-love and open dialogue, prêt-à-porter.
Through the personal challenges and pandemic, Aman has embraced a form of ‘Mental Health Activism’ and focuses this throughout their work. “I’m trying to be of service to people. I love myself. I want everyone to love themselves, and showcase that to the world,” says Aman. “In expressing our own self-love we are making a bold statement. We can all be activists in this way.”
As the AADHE website notes, products serve as conversation starters, “allowing you to connect with others who share your commitment to self-care and self-love.” Aman’s desire is that all AADHE artwork sparks internal dialogue, if not external connections. “I want people to question what it means when they see someone wearing one of my products,” Aman explains. “Like, what does this mean to the person wearing it? What does it mean to ME? Does this resonate in some way? I think we need to have these mantras in our lives right now.”
Aman goes on to describe how they even have “introvert-extrovert” reversible bomber jackets – to suit whatever statement you want to make that evening. “Both light and dark – for whatever space you’re in at that time,” explains Aman. “Ready for the club, or a comfortable night in!”
AADHE also hosts regular online and in-person events to showcase local talent with behind-the-scenes interactive fashion shows, all of which are free to attend as a show of appreciation to the community. Long-term plans include creating more of these opportunities for supportive individuals and communities to come out and, as Aman asserts, “Just BE!”
Bright patterns, bold statements, beaming future.
Aman has been involved with CGLCC’s OUT For Business since meeting their Mentor, Matt, in October 2022. “He has been helping me out so much with figuring out best practices and how to better position the company,” Aman says of Matt. “He’s been so helpful in reviewing and giving me feedback on all that I need for the business. He doesn’t tell me what to do, but provides some great feedback on what I have going on and the ideas I have.”
Each year, CGLCC’s youth entrepreneur program supports a select group of 2SLGBTQI+ youth entrepreneurs from across Canada to grow their businesses with the support of mentors and community leaders. “Talking to someone with a particular perspective, a queer viewpoint, it’s so important to me,” says Aman. “It’s part of my identity and part of my brand.”
In addition to aspirations of hosting more community-supportive fashion focused events, Aman’s hope is that AADHE will continue to grow, become more sustainable and profitable over the next five years. “I want people to see me and know that I am an Ally – to all,” Aman explains of the personal goals within the business. “I just want what everyone wants – to feel loved, safe, and seen. I want to do the best for my business, for myself, and for my child.”
Find out more about AADHE clothing at www.aadheclothing.com.