In the fashion world, to be interested is one thing, to be invested quite another. So while many ladies have borrowed their boyfriend’s jeans and imparted an advice or two on how to look edgy, if not chic, not many women have ventured into menswear. For those who have, it’s been a giant leap.
In 2018, French designer Isabel Marant launching her full-fledged menswear collection was a step that many female-founded fashion labels have eventually taken. While for Marant, the decision came after two decades of being in the industry, partly because, as she once said, “I’m tired of being asked when am I going to menswear?” and partly because, for years, she had seen guys around—friends, boyfriends and boyfriends of girlfriends wanting to wear her clothes!
Not surprisingly, closer home, it was a similar incident for designer Purvi Doshi before the idea to design for men first occurred. “I had a friend who loved my outfits and once he said if I could make a khaki indigo jacket for him. I was really hesitant because I had no experience, and didn’t have menswear tailor with me, but he insisted and I thought to myself—let me try.”
The rest is history that she loves to recall, “The jacket turned out to be a classic and that is how I started making blazers in khadi and with natural dyes. After making many colour-coded jackets, slowly I thought why not kurtas?”
No dearth of choices
Upcoming British designer Bianca Saunders once spoke about how a lot of her work was inspired by her male friends, specifically the first collection based around a skinny male friend. Anita Dongre has for the record spoken about the charm of a well-tailored kurta or sherwani not being lost on her. “As a designer and, most importantly, as a creative person, I’d hate to hem in my imagination. This is one of the primary reasons I have come to love designing menswear,” reads one of the collection notes by the designer, where she admits to also disrupting her comfort zone with menswear.
Samira Lavekar from the label TISA understood very early that for men to finalise an outfit, comfort comes first. “Which is why a lot of importance is given to how a garment is structured and ultimately how a man feels after wearing it.” Let alone being skeptical, she didn’t come across any doubting men in the industry! “In fact, they are pleased to know that a woman is designing their outfit and can understand men’s choices so well.”
Cut to change
Purvi proudly narrates the fact that there is no room for boredom when a woman designs! “It brings a vast difference when a woman designs a man’s outfit. You see a variety and aspects of masculine elegance; you see different cuts and experimentation,” she says. And boy, don’t we see the difference in men trying out florals, uneven cuts, kalis (Ranveer Singh would be a good, although extreme example)? Recalls Doshi, “There was a client who wanted a customised design and he observed all my designs minutely. He picked embroidery from one, cloth from another; a colour from the third, a cut from somewhere and then mixed it all together. We were skeptical of how it will look, as there were some peacock motifs, flowers and a colour that men generally don’t prefer, but ultimately it turned out to be amazing. Interesting to see that some men are as open to experimentation as women.”
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