Swank and dapper

Designer menswear in India may not be as popular as the women’s segment but the recent edition of LFW proves that men are now warming up to snazzy ensembles

Written by VIDYA PRABHU | Published: April 7, 2013 3:09 am

WHEN Arjun Khanna presented his menswear line “Out of Sight,Out of Mind” at the recent Summer Resort ’13 edition of Lakme Fashion Week (LFW),the adrenaline rush that he’d been missing for almost three years,gripped him all over again. His models cheered,hooted and even carried him on their shoulders,bringing his show to a dramatic end. “It was great to be back on the ramp — now that’s a feeling like no other. That apart,the collection was very well-received,” he says. While Khanna doesn’t want to give away numbers,he points out that the encouraging response has made him think of expansion. “There’s great demand for designer menswear — quality clothing,that is. It’s a question of tapping it in the right manner. That’s why I am looking at setting up a store in Delhi,” he says.

His observation is interesting in the light of the current designer menswear scenario in India. On one hand,two prominent menswear initiatives — the menswear fashion week and LFW’s menswear day — haven’t returned for several seasons. The former had its last showing in 2011 while the latter hasn’t had the menswear day since 2009. However,if the recent LFW was anything to go by,menswear is showing more promise now. For starters,many womenswear designers have turned to creating men’s clothing as well. There were 13 designers who showed men’s clothing range at LFW this season,with five of them showing it exclusively. “Menswear holds a lot of potential — a look at the number of premium brands entering the country will tell you that. But it’s only now that designers are waking up to it. So if a designer is a successful name in women’s clothing,then the next step is to replicate that success in men’s section as well. After all,men today have increased awareness and deep pockets too,” says Narendra Kumar,who is known for both his menswear and women’s clothing. Vaishali S,who ventured into menswear with her LFW line,agrees. “It was a natural progression for my label — it was a matter of time for me to get into this and I felt the time was right,” she says.

The demand for menswear has also been fuelled by a growing clientele for men’s accessories. Designer-turned-Bollywood stylist Kunal Rawal showed a range of headgear (helmets),footwear,pocket squares,metal tie-knots and emblems and insignias alongside his clothing line at LFW. Echoing Kumar’s sentiment,he points out that the modern male is willing to experiment. “For instance,in my recent show,I worked with crinkled fabric and metal weaved fabric that I manufactured myself using 4 to 5 per cent metal,” says Rawal.

For Jaipur-based Rohit Kamra,it’s the bespoke-loving customer who has contributed to his success. “I have believed in sticking to what I do best and since I am doing well within menswear,I don’t feel the need to look at other segments,” he says.

That said,designer menswear in our country still has a lot of catching up to do,vis-a-vis the womenswear segment. Khanna and Rawal say the main problem lies in the lack of a strong retail network. “There should be a dedicated space for menswear. Even in multi-designer stores,womenswear gets more importance over men’s fashion,” laments Rawal,while Khanna feels that there is a need for more seriousness at the buyers’ end,including online portals for designers.

According to Falguni Jhaveri,co-owner of the store Fuel,male customers need a setting different from the one offered by womenswear. “Particularly where wedding trousseaus are concerned,a groom would want to shop in a distinctly separate environment. This is also the reason why we are looking at setting up a new space,” she reveals.

Kumar,meanwhile,also emphasises the need to factor in wearability and versatility at reasonable prices. “More often than not,menswear designers ignore this and insist on offering a dramatic take in the name of fashion. Such collections don’t get a good start,” explains Kumar.

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