Men, by and large, are believed to be much more conservative about fashion than women. We might blame them for their “boring” choices but the fact remains that men’s fashion is guided by a tighter framework than womenswear.
Usually driven by tradition and archetypal designs, menswear is finally taking inspiration from women’s fashion, which is all about a big concept and a more abstract approach. And a testament to this trend is the growing number of menswear designers in India.
However, despite the burgeoning number of designers in this field, menswear as an industry segment is yet to realise its true potential in the country.
Guardian 20 speaks to some celebrated designers and labels to find out more about the Indian man’s evolving fashion sense.
Celebrity menswear designer, Ravi Gupta tell us, “Menswear was an untapped segment five years back, but now a lot of players are into it. Yes, but there is still a gap if you talk about good quality menswear in the country. Only a few know what menswear is all about. If we speak about new designers in menswear, they are the ones who were once called karigars (workmen) at various menswear stores who have very recently managed to start their own businesses, and there are some salesmen who have succeeded to get a label for themselves. New entrepreneurs now think there is a lot of scope in this business. And yes, it is true.”
Minizmo, is a high-end menswear brand, co-founded by Rohan Khattar. He says, “The menswear market, earlier, was an untapped segment but over the past few years the sector has been flourishing. According to the Euro monitor International survey, ‘Men’s shirts remain the largest menswear category in India, where demand for branded shirts is increasing as more men join the workforce.’ Another study by UKIBC shows higher disposable income brings in a more sophisticated taste and this increases brand awareness and greater fashion consciousness leading to a desire for quality and better service standards above everything else.”
Khattar added, “What was untapped was the bespoke menswear market where men were not able to get proper customised clothes, be it something as basic as a shirt or as complex as a tuxedo. There are a lot of brands that are into bespoke clothing today and are reaching a much larger segment of customers. A huge influence on tailored outfits has impelled today’s men to try power dressing.”
The way men dress today has definitely evolved. With the startup culture taking over the workforce, smart casuals have become more acceptable than ever. Comfort and quality have become key factors with the sheer variety that’s available and thus, men are willing to experiment more with the clothes they wear.
When it comes to menswear, what is in vogue?
Famous designer Sunil Mehra, founder, House of Sunil Mehra, responds, “Today’s modern men aren’t afraid of experimenting. If you compare and look back to 6-7 years from now, the fashion for men was colour constraint. In fact, we could barely see any innovation in the patterns, but today there’s a whole lot of variety in terms of fabric, colour, patterns, designs and what not.
“Checks have always been men’s best friend. Going forward, prints like polka dots, once considered as feminine, are taking over men’s fashion wear industry. You may see polka-dotted printed shirt, pocket squares, ties, bow ties and even socks.”
Designer Jatin Malik, of Jatin Malik Couture, says, “Men have started experimenting a lot. Over the last five years, men have started to amalgamate the Indo-Western look into their daily wear routine, which is a big boost for any menswear designer. Achkan kurtas, kurtas with curved hemline paired with tapered trousers and handcrafted loafers or sneakers are the sorts of attires that are in vogue.”
Designer duo Sheena and Wrickie Angrish talk to us about the trends for this season. Wrickie says, “Solids, drapes and asymmetrical silhouettes have never been so popular in the past as they are now. All white and pastel pinks are being celebrated by men the world over. And accessories and jewells are not just for women anymore—the brooches are also back .”
Sheena, on the ethnic wear trend for men, says, “The right blend of modernity and traditional sensibilities, with cuts and silhouettes that are mixed with contemporary art and styling is the trend these days. A ‘modern slimmer’ cut bandhgala with contemporary colour or texture with traditionally handcrafted intricate buttons is in much demand. Blending the attire and matching it up with artistically cut and carefully hand-sown polo pants or breeches are in. Also, don’t forget your brooch.”
Manjula Gandhi, chief product officer, Numero Uno, tells us about how technology plays a key role for menswear designers willing to experiment with fabrics. She says, “Today technology plays a key and vital role in fabrics used for creating men’s fashion. Utility, comfort and functionality are important factors that help in decision-making when it comes to men’s choice of clothing. Inclusion of stretchable material for comfort and performance finishes on fabrics enhance the value of
Bangalore-based designer Sounak Barat, founder, House of Three, shares his views on the growing demand for innovative and stylish clothes for men. He says, “The sky is the limit. It depends on the designer’s creative thoughts and the wearers’ willingness to experiment.”
Bold designs, like floral detailing on a jacket or on a shirt or a printed pants, are common these days. The business head and co-founder of House of Three, Anu Shyamsundar, tells us, “To each their own. In the business of fashion, we have terms such as core, basic, upgraded basic and statement products. It is a given that one in 10 people would buy the statement piece while all 10 will surely buy the core white shirt.”
When it comes to office wear, is there any space to experiment?
Ashish Gurnani, co-founder, Postfold, says, “I don’t think so. Men can use different textured fabrics, use minimal prints and details to give their basic office outfits a little twist. Wearing different colours is another way to stand out and experiment. Paying attention to details like a contrast collar, elbow patches and the right accessories like cufflinks and ties can make a dramatic difference to your workwear wardrobe.”
Speaking of colours, there still exists a range of colours not deemed fit for men. Salesh Grover, business head, OSL Luxury Collections. Pvt. Ltd., Corneliani, says, “Well, there was this stereotype before but not anymore. A man can wear whatever he wants. A lot of Bollywood stars like Saif, Ranveer Singh look extremely charming while wearing pinks and reds. Jay Gatsby famously wore a pink suit in The Great Gatsby. Also, pink pairs well with just about every colour—white, charcoal grey, black, khaki, brown—making it extremely versatile.”