There has been a drastic change in the fashion industry in the last decade. When I started out 12 years ago, fashion was not taken too seriously and was perhaps a bit frivolous. The biggest game changers have been global and cross-cultural influences. Indian silhouettes — the sherwani which is basically an overcoat, or kurta that is really a long shirt — are seen on international runways.
It’s a very exciting time to be in the fashion industry with inspirations from around the world where everyone is willing to try something new, something different. It’s liberating to dress the way you want, and we are seeing that in India, as well. People have figured out that you can play with Indian wear too, and are looking for pieces that are versatile and functional. There is a willingness to customise and we are helping this trend. In the early years, when I started my label, I would dress people the way they wanted and would be disappointed when I found that men were not sure about what they wanted when it came to ethnicwear. So, I began to involve them in selecting their wardrobes. I never encourage a look copied directly from a mannequin. I always recommend that they combine different pieces and dress according to their own style and comfort. I focus on selling clothes that are versatile and can be paired with almost anything.
We are a part of the change and it feels good to know that we have achieved what we wanted as men are now involved with their clothes. They know what they want to wear and how to present themselves. People come to my store and pair their own attire. There is an openness about playing with a look and having fun at the same time.
There was a time when men didn’t have too many options. It would often be a small rack with a modest selection of ensembles. I wanted to change that. We have changed that, and now men have a diversity of choices. All our stores have more than 300 looks that keep men more excited and involved than ever.
I feel there has been a very clear aesthetic shift in fashion over the years, particularly in men’s occasion wear. We have revamped traditional wear to make it more relevant and wearable in our day-to-day life, which was otherwise not the case. Everyone’s wardrobe had a lot of western wear, and on the side, there used to be one bandhgala set or one kurta-koti look which was worn only on ceremonial functions. People today want a detailed, luxury product that they can mix and match for various occasions. It is now possible to create different looks from separates, and by pairing different garments that create a new look every time you move out of your house.