A burst of colour for the men

- January 29, 2023
| By : Asmita Aggarwal |

The inaugural edition of FDCI India Men’s Weekend was a sneak peek into the fashion men want now — oversized, trend-agnostic, gender fluid and certainly bright, with sustainability making a comeback

Menswear is no longer only about blue and stripes, and it took a ramp on the Arabian Sea at the heritage Port and Jail Complex, Sinquerim, Goa, with Delhi designers reaching there in a luxury yacht, to announce that.

Sunil Sethi, the chairman of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) believes that since interest in menswear is growing quickly, this was the right time to restart the menswear fashion week with the inaugural FDCI India Men’s Weekend.

The event, which began on January 14 and is on the lines of Pitti Uomo (a prominent men’s fashion event in Florence) but with Indian gurus, showcased how menswear has evolved from conventional attire to a more refreshing representation of style. It will be an annual affair henceforth.

Sethi took steps to create a blueprint and envisioned a setup.

The participating designers included Abhishek Gupta, Abraham and Thakore, Arjun Khanna, Ashish N. Soni, JJ Valaya, Manoviraj Khosla, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna, Shantnu and Nikhil, Varun Bahl and a large contingent from Delhi, which is undoubtedly the fashion capital.

Brothers Shantnu and Nikhil showcased their brand, Shantnu Nikhil Cricket Club (SNCC), built on the country’s love for cricket. It introduced the batsman logo, which symbolises the spirit of achievement, the will to strive forward and a sense of unity.

The line-up of the range is dedicated to preserving the game’s stylistic hallmarks on a canvas of season-friendly fabrics like flat knit and premium silks that highlight athletic-chic-inspired details. From essential sartorial pieces like retro-doused varsity jackets, crested sweatshirts, sweater vests, classic and cropped polos to classic pick-me-ups – neckerchiefs, sneakers, bucket hats, and belts.

“In the recent few years, we’ve observed an upsurge in men’s interest in fashion. They’re constantly on the look out for styles that match their personal aesthetic. Millennials and Gen Z are all about comfort and styling, which is also the reason street style has been a major trend in the past seasons. Owing to that, we felt it was imperative to bring sports and fashion together,” said Shantnu.

For Delhi designer Ashish Soni, the most exciting part of the show was the magical venue while the entrance on a yacht was a novel experience.

“As it was a multi-designer show, I gave it a lot of thought and realised that the best way to make an impact, as it is by the ocean, is to break away from what I do regularly and offer a burst of colour. We did bright pink, magenta, neon green, yellow and red. [We thought] A rainbow would look amazing as we were surrounded by clear, blue water. It set me apart from everybody else,” said Soni.

This is in keeping with the fact that men are slowly embracing colour and it is seeping in through to not just their clothes, but also accessories.

Arjun Khanna, a leading menswear guru and a specialist in this field for the last 30 years, based his collection on recycled and vintage textile and its sustainable use.

“My inspiration and influence was the use of old US army camo uniforms with hand-painted nose art (nose art is what’s on all the warplanes of the 40s and 50s i.e. the American bombers) worn over tea-dyed and stencilled corduroy pants, made from wasted fragments of textile. Along with that was the introduction of my new accessory line of bags called ‘bag-sack by Arjun Khanna’. It is created from fragments and left-over textiles. Nothing goes waste at our studio. Everything is converted into a bag now as part of a bag-sack! Or even pouches and folios for laptops and iPad,” said Arjun, whose collection is titled “The artist at war in peace”.

“It was a great venue and a great setting, it also had a great sense of nostalgia [since I was doing] a show with fellow designers. Many of us go back to when we started our careers together,” added Arjun.

“Getting us all together on a solo platform isn’t an easy proposition — actually a rare occurrence — but this has happened because one man (Sunil Sethi) made it possible! Hoping this is a successful new venture and I wish the FDCI all the best,” said Arjun further.

Manoviraj Khosla, who has also been a stalwart among menswear style aficionados, offered a new spectrum to this segment. His collection reinvented denim and mixed it with other fabrics such as embroidered wool, woven fabrics and leather.

Designers Shantnu and Nikhil

“Recycled denim played a big part in the construction of the jackets, which were teamed up with striped woven lungis and embroidered jeans with matching denim and embroidered leather shoes. The models were both men and women who were both dressed in men’s collection making it gender-neutral,” he explained as he was blown away by the ramp created in the sea.

Varun Bahl, who is known for his innovative thought process, too came up with a theme that was pushing the boundaries of understanding Gen Z and their needs. Everything he offered men in his line, was oversized, and shiny as well as embroidered. He felt that Gen Z is slowly but gradually loving all the things it was earlier fearful of.

Translucence came through his deft use of organza, as he used womenswear fabrics in menswear, making bomber and biker jackets and recycled patchwork, cargo pants.

“Mostly, we wear hoodies in winter, but the ones I crafted out of organza are all-season. Also, layering is the key to modern dressing, a more experimental approach to menswear,” he concluded.