A decade, even five years ago, if you happened to chance a peep into the wardrobe of an average Indian man, it would have been a Pandora's Box of stereotypes! A classic white shirt, a black three-piece suit, some polo T-shirts for the weekends, and if they were "experimental" then probably a suit in blue or beige -- but that's as far as it would go. The words "fashion" and "style" were too effeminate for them to consider when thinking of what clothes to buy. However this is not to say that they didn't have a secret love affair with fashion; far from it! The tailoring, the cut, the fabric, the finish were things they have always paid attention to -- but colour, print, patterns were considered strictly off-limits! Much like the safety of "classics" in their wardrobe, their bathroom shelves were sparsely occupied by grooming products (if any). The average Joe trimmer and shaving kit, an aftershave, cologne and they were groomed -- although not quite.
The tailoring, the cut, the fabric, the finish were things they have always paid attention to -- but colour, print, patterns were considered strictly off-limits!
Turn of a new decade, and the definition of menswear has taken a complete 180-degree turn -- for good! -- bolstered by a sudden explosion of designs, styles, colours and a plethora of choices, paired with a paradigm shift in the perspective towards fashion and styling. Whether it is the influx of international trends or the globetrotting man's experience with how the West perceives menswear, the effect on how we as Indian designers can reach out to men has been immense. The otherwise "sticking-to-basics" man has become the "let's-try-this-trend" guy.
What started with design and print on accessory pieces like ties and bow ties, and eclectic motifs for cuff links, has fast gathered momentum and transformed a man's wardrobe as we see it. From printed shirts peeping out of solid coloured suits to completely printed suits (floral too!), the change and evolution is palpable. With new phrases being coined for the way they approach their wardrobe and grooming -- from lumbersexuals to metrosexuals -- there is not one definitive way that the Indian man is exploring and experimenting today. The Indian male, if you would believe it, is getting more stylish!
While the serious banker has become more dapper and sharp... the unkempt boy has transformed into an urban "lumbersexual"...
With their closets full of wardrobe essentials, they always had the foundation set, but it is about building from that, it is about bringing in the colour, the experimentation, and some fun! While the serious banker has become more dapper and sharp, and the unkempt boy has transformed into an urban "lumbersexual", there are still many Indian men in a dire need of a stylist or wardrobe overhaul. Also, as the Indian man's choices for western-wear silhouettes evolve, the evolution is slow. The wedding segment, especially for grooms to be, is gathering steam and attention no doubt, but it is still a cordoned area in the wardrobe -- one that is dedicated to the classic ivory sherwani, nothing more and nothing less. With beautiful crafts, textiles and embroideries at their disposal, it is possibly the last frontier, one that would open up many, many more routes to experimentation.
From an age of solids and basics, to a movement to colour, print, design -- not just the Indian man, but the Indian menswear industry has hit a peak and we can only see it grow from strength to strength, with Indian menswear shows being just a start!
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