Ah, the noble lungi – a magical garment of limitless possibilities that’s renowned for its comfort, pliability, and of course – aeration where it matters most.
Many may consider the lungi to be a sartorial mainstay of South India, a comfortable clothing alternative that provides relief during the oftentimes overwhelming humidity. But contrary to popular belief, you can see the lungi (and if it’s not well-tied, even more) around several parts of India, including the north. It’s also worn outside of India, sometimes under a different name.
The tying of a lungi is an art in itself, wrapped around the lower waist under the navel, straightened, and folded by cinematically swinging the arm from one side as the final step. That probably made no sense so here’s a video in case you want to give that rectangular cloth a shot.
Many in India love to feel the soft, gentle caress of a cotton lungi around their supple hips. But now, the West has caught on, and they’re not just wrapping it around their hips, they’re actively trying to make it hip. What?!
Just look how happy these identical Indian triplets are in their lungis. Swinging young, wild, and free.
Now on the other end of the spectrum, you have the two American men who started something called The Lungi Project, and sell each lungi for a mind-blasting $175, or Rs 13,000 each.
Apparently, that uber-luxe lungi is made out of ‘100% sustainable European flax linen and silk thread’. Who even asked for this?
Has any lungi-wearer ever proclaimed that cotton just wasn’t cutting it? That he needed his lungi to be made out of something that sounds like it was stolen from an indigenous tribe by a brutal colonial overlord?
It’s even made-to-order, which has understandably befuddled some folks.
can't believe made in north america lungis exist that are selling for $175. pic.twitter.com/lJl1V37VtL— DaBaby Shalini (@nah_im_abdulla) May 12, 2019
You want a lungi? Then feast your eyes on the multitude of budget-friendly options below. No pretentious ‘Saville Row tailoring’ or ‘100% European alpaca wool’ or whatever it is they’re selling in the West. Just straight up pleasure for your plums.
It’s great that the rest of the world is coming around to appreciating the technological marvel that is a lungi, but just don’t be this guy –
Check out this (admittedly hilarious) parody video where a guy absolutely butchers the pronunciation of our beloved lungi.
But it honestly doesn’t matter what I say- white people gonna do what white people gonna do. And if that means calling naan ‘naan bread’, or calling chai ‘chai tea’, or buying lungis for ridiculous amounts of money, then let ’em.
Like this lungi that Zara was selling for Rs 6000.
Still thinking about when Zara was selling lungi to white people for $90 pic.twitter.com/Youqyre7Jb— jaan (@kormakilla) January 9, 2019
white people are paying $90 for a lungi, never thought id see the day https://t.co/4xZK8pclzD— rocky || misses george (@R0CKY404) June 4, 2021
There’s really no way to understand where this love for the lungi is going to go. Perhaps one section of society will call it apparel appropriation. Perhaps the West will implode upon itself over the pros and cons of cheap vs expensive lungis. Maybe there will be a travel boom of white people coming to India under the guise of lungi tourism. For now, I’ll just leave you with this tweet to sum everything up –
Once I had 2 drunk white people in my car and one kept saying PLAY LUNGI DANCE the other heard the radio jingle and said I LOVE THIS SONG— Munira Maricar (@zippyapplelips) May 19, 2014