Male fashion has always worked within tighter constraints than Scarlet O’Hara’s corset. For over 100 years, menswear has seen no revolution or important concepts come through, but an influx of women designers are giving the tired old suit a much-needed facelift.
Men have dominated the fashion space for years. According to a survey by Business of Fashion, only 40.2% of designers are female. “In such a scenario it’s daunting to do Men’s collections from a designers perspective,” says designer Urvashi Kaur This trend has been changing in the West. Veterans of fashion such as Hermès’ Véronique Nichanian, or Comme des Garçon’s Rei Kawakubo, the industry’s High Priestess of “Anti-Fashion,” have long been paving the way for a women-driven change in male fashion.
Till recently, India was lagging behind. Archetypal garments — the suit, the kurta, the trench — dominated our style scene. Indian women designers such as Anju Modi, Urvashi Kaur, and others have forayed into menswear and are changing the face of the game. “I would like to see more women design for men since there are already so many men designing for women,” says Kaur.
These women are pushing the boundaries of men’s clothing and providing the newly fashion forward Indian man some sartorial room to breathe. It’s possible that Dame Vivienne Westwood, who is considered the Queen of Fashion and has influenced the male dress since the beginning days of punk rock, inspires them.
The Indian man’s growing interest in fashion has also helped push for bolder silhouettes and styles. A July 2015 report by Market Research Company Euromonitor shows that retail sales of menswear in India grew 14 per cent that year, to Rs 1.2 trillion, meaning that men had become more fashion conscious and were buying more clothing. The same year actor Ranveer Singh made waves by wearing Anju Modi designed skirts to the premiere of his movie Bajirao Mastani. The rise of the fashion conscious Indian male was underway.
Modi could be considered one of the pioneering Indian female designers whose collections have influenced the change in male fashion. Her Draupadi couture collection in which she paired evening jackets with dhotis and tuxedo-cut blazers with long skirts was a ground-breaking moment for Indian fashion.
While designers had long experimented with drapes for women’s wear, Modi’s unexpected combination sparked a quiet revolution in men’s style. She continues riding the wave with her 2017 collection where men wore safis with glittering broaches as well as white and gold layered lehengas.
Similarly, Urvashi Kaur is known for her androgynous clothing and stylized take on menswear.
Another shot of the Khadi jumpsuit from the collection #Seyyah. Featured in @kaltblut_magazine , shot by @soumya.iyer and styled by @msshinyshorts . Repost from @soumya.iyer @TopRankRepost #TopRankRepost Exclusive editorial for @kaltblut_magazine . Model @leilert . Styled by @msshinyshorts . Make up and hair by @namfon.xx . Olive jumpsuit by @urvashikaur . #model #malemodel #men #fashion #fashionphotography #styling #makeupandhair #outdoor #photoshoot #modelling #photography #jumpsuit #uk #japan #scarf #berlin #london #nyc #photooftheday #girlgaze #instagood #vice #viceuk #fashionstylist #instafashion
Reactions to bold clothing for men are mixed. Earlier this year, when the male romper was released, the Internet went wild. There is still a long way to go before people move past the classic suit and loafers, as many bold collections are met with ridicule from those outside the fashion industry. Still,
it’s been 100 years since the suit was invented, and men have been wearing relatively the same thing. TLC wonders if the change isn’t going to occur now, then when?
After all, don’t men deserve a little sartorial adventure too?