In an industry known for its bespoke women’s wear, designer Kunal Rawal is aiming to make a change. Not just with his designs, but also the thought process behind them, and in the end, giving his customers more than just his creations by being available to address their queries personally. He admits he strives to make creations more than what meets the eye; for him “functionality is foremost”.
Indianexpress.com caught up with the ace designer to know more about his new collection Bennie and Clyde which, he says, translates into his persona. The idea, he reveals, is to redefine the on-the-go attitude and offer more than just ‘wearability’. Read on to know what went into designing the collection amid the pandemic, possible menswear trends and why functionality has become more important than ever.
When did you start designing your new collection and what is the inspiration behind the same?
People are always a major part of my inspiration, and this time, too, it is not any different. Inspired by the modern man and by all of us, this collection is all about those who are always on the move. The reason I named my collection ‘Bennie and Clyde’ is because it is a fun slang reference for people who are hustling.
One of the biggest advantages of being creative is that you can find inspiration in anything. This time, I was inspired sitting in my room. Inspiration comes to you in the most uncanny ways and to me, it’s moody and emotion-driven.
Was designing a collection any different amid the pandemic?
This time, it was very different but exciting nonetheless. But COVID-19 has been a blessing in disguise because prior to this, I always had to chase my own thoughts because of work and distraction coming in between. Earlier, it was just a few hours of design and getting pulled into something else. Now, with the pandemic, I had a lot of time to chase my thoughts, sit with them, do my research and create a mood board simultaneously.
It, however, came with its own negatives as well, like a lot of things we do as a team were now solely being done by me. For example, when it came to sampling, it became difficult because a lot about building a new collection is touching and feeling. Our line of work is very tactile and imagining fabrics and witnessing them on the screen was hard.
Now everything was done in a digital manner. Not only that, I was in touch with my master over Zoom calls and while things happened, it wasn’t the easiest. It was not being done the usual way but anything done differently always brings out something beautiful!
What makes your latest collection different?
Functionality is one of the biggest aspects of the collection and while things haven’t been a lot different ever since the lockdown was lifted, we are slowly having an array of meetings to go to — whether it is a Zoom call, a gathering or even a wedding.
When it comes to dressing up for any of these, I always look for pieces which I could make multiple looks out of — versatile enough to go from modern luxury to as heavy as traditional functions. While I am looking for pieces that are intricate in their detail and beautiful, what stands out for me is if it could be worked into six different looks and yet it doesn’t look like it’s repetitive. This is what exactly defines Bennie and Clyde!
What you do expect menswear trends to be in 2021?
Few pillars of the label have taken more prominence during the pandemic. One of them being versatility and functionality, individual pieces that can be styled in different ways while keeping it comfortable. Comfort has become such a mainstay ever since COVID-19 entered our lives. Menswear is taking a whole new direction, it is very comfort-driven. For example, our deconstructed jackets, which are sleeveless, resemble a bandi when worn but when paired with something more intricately detailed, they look like a sherwani or ajgar jacket.
Your new collection features a lot of jackets…
Jackets are super versatile, and deconstructed jackets cover a gambit of events which is the need of the hour. We are all looking for beautiful pieces because there is a lot of thought put into every purchase. These jackets can be multi-worn and you can get more looks out of a single piece and this makes it worth the money. The consumer wants you to suggest multiple ways to wear it, they want flexibility not just in design but also in how they wear it.
What are some of the most flattering silhouettes for men? What are some of the basic pieces they must have in their wardrobe?
Well, it is never about the silhouette but the cut. We make 80-90 per cent of our fabric and we construct our garments with focus upon the marriage between the cut, the pattern and the fall of the fabric. We pay a lot of attention to the construction of the garment, which is what makes it flattering or not.
The play of proportion changes the game because every silhouette can be flattering. That said, the Indian body type is belly-heavy so what works really well is layering. This is also a big trend that is here to stay. The Indian silhouettes are very conducive for the male body type because there is layering in most of them. Sleeveless jackets are a must-have when you have a lean body type and you want to look a bit broader– play with layering and 3D embroideries and if you are slightly heavy, then go for a thinner fabric that is fitted to perfection.
If we ever got a sneak-peek into your wardrobe, what would we find?
You will find a whole lot of pieces that define my design philosophy. You will find a lot of tone-on-tone play, even if it’s in different colours, along with sleeveless jackets because it frames me better. But, most of all, you will see a lot of interesting pieces because I dress according to my mood and how I feel on that specific day. Fashion is such a powerful tool to tell people how you feel even before you open your mouth! Some days, I will go for an all-black outfit but today I am looking like a technicolour circus!
Check out his new collection below