Harikrishnan inflatable trousers

Harikrishnan's blow-up latex trousers go on sale with "do not overinflate" warning

Inflatable latex trousers by Harikrishnan have gone on sale just six months after the designer caused a viral sensation by showing the prototypes at his London College of Fashion graduate show.

The pants are made from up to 30 individual panels of natural rubber, which allows them to be inflated to oversized, balloon-like proportions using a small valve at the bottom.

Photograph courtesy of Francisco Rosas

After being featured on Dezeen in February, the trousers were widely shared on the internet and picked up by fashion publications like Vogue and morning TV news show BBC Breakfast.

Now, after just half a year, they are available to purchase on a made-to-order basis via APOC Store – a newly established online retailer that aims to offer young, unorthodox designers a platform to sell their pieces without having to go through buyers and wholesalers.

"Ever since my collection went public, I have been receiving enquiries on social media to sell my pieces and create custom ones," Harikrishnan told Dezeen. "This demand really pushed me to fast-track my production and put the collection out there for the public."

Under the shortened brand name Harri, the designer is selling a mint green and white candy cane-striped design that was originally featured in his graduate collection alongside a previously unseen high-shine black version.

"The black pair will be a part of the studio's core collection," he said. "They are easier to wear and walk in, and hardly take a minute to inflate."

Photograph is by Ray Chung

The trousers arrive "flat-packed" and need to be blown up at home, either manually or using a small balloon pump. Buyers are advised: "Please do not overinflate".

Each pair also comes with detailed instructions on how to store them safely – away from heat and daylight while avoiding any contact with metals and oils, as this can easily discolour natural latex.

"Latex needs to be treated gently and buyers need to take good post-purchase care of their items," said Harikrishnan.

"But this also means that the material remains biodegradable and will eventually return to its natural form, meaning zero waste or harm to the planet."

Photograph is by Ray Chung

Also for sale on the website is Harri's Skittles Vest, a ready-made item that is strung together from hand-carved wooden beads.

These were created in collaboration with woodturning and lacquer work artisans from the Indian region of Channapatna, where the designer lived for a month in advance of his graduate show to help them transplant their craft into a fashion context.

In order to be able to launch the collection so quickly after the original showcase, Harikrishnan used the time he spent stuck at home during coronavirus lockdown to refine the logistics and scale up the production.

"I personally feel that the timing for the launch is appropriate because this is the time for change," he said.

"My work fits in well with the current moment, as many are considering being more unconventional and experimental. At the same time, I am super excited to see the experiences of the people who are buying and trying my pieces and to get their feedback."

Photograph is by Ray Chung

Other graduate fashion collections that have proven popular this year included a mini dress with an integrated bean bag and a series of knitted garments made entirely from rubber bands.

Photography is by Diego Hernandez unless otherwise stated.