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 hed 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 thats a feeling like no other. That apart,the collection was very well-received, he says. While Khanna doesnt want to give away numbers,he points out that the encouraging response has made him think of expansion. Theres great demand for designer menswear quality clothing,that is. Its a question of tapping it in the right manner. Thats 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 LFWs menswear day havent returned for several seasons. The former had its last showing in 2011 while the latter hasnt 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 mens clothing as well. There were 13 designers who showed mens 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 its only now that designers are waking up to it. So if a designer is a successful name in womens clothing,then the next step is to replicate that success in mens 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 womens 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 mens 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 Kumars 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,its 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 dont 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 mens 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 dont get a good start, explains Kumar.