Womenswear designers are transforming men's fashion from formal to fierce

Womenswear designers are transforming men’s fashion from formal to fierce

Many new-age brands find that defining clothes by gender is a dated concept

By Drishti Vij  February 28th, 2020

Menswear is in the midst of a boom. And, it is womenswear designers from around the globe who are forging its wildly-imaginative future, giving it the same kind of creative legitimacy that women’s fashion has long enjoyed. But it makes one wonder if this reinvention is an effort to rethink the new-age fashion brand as we know it? Is this being done to increase their product categories? Or simply to add to their revenues? 

Rimzim Dadu works with innovative materials for menswear

BUMPING UP BOTTOM LINES

Indian designer labels like Rimzim Dadu, Good Earth, Rahul Mishra, Lovebirds, Bodice and Amit Aggarwal, among others, have recently forayed into men’s clothing—a shift that is taking place at a time when the idea of what’s considered an appropriate garb for a man is also changing. 

Bodice makes utilitarian clothing for men

Aneeth Arora, the quiet mastermind behind péro recalls, “When I launched my brand 10 years ago, there were only six looks for men on the runway. I used to believe menswear does not have the space to be creative, but I was wrong. Today, its share within our business has increased manifold. We participate in Pitti Uomo (one of the biggest trade fairs for men’s fashion) in Florence regularly and péro’s menswear is available at some very covetable international stores as well.” 

Good Earth started menswear last year

MASCULINE FEMININE

Like Arora, fashion designer Kanika Goyal launched her eponymous label by presenting both menswear and womenswear. While she stopped its production for a year and a half, Goyal decided to reintroduce the segment. “I was getting a lot of requests to customise designs. In fact, our denim jackets emblazoned with ‘Drama drama drama’ are equally popular with men as they are with women. And, now it’s not just women who are sending me screenshots of looks they like on Instagram. Men do it too,” she reveals. 

Simon Porte Jacquemus launched menswear in 2018

Known for her use of immaculate texture surfacing and unconventional materials like metal wire to make garments, Delhi-based designer Rimzim Dadu’s menswear debuted about a year ago. “It took me three-four years to conceptualise what it should look like. And, I noticed a market gap for statement clothing for men along with a shift in mindsets as well. Men no longer feel the need to fit into a mould for macho,” says Dadu. 

Harry Styles for Gucci‘s menswear campaign

International Woolmark™ Prize-winning designer Ruchika Sachdeva agrees. She reasons that the industry is going through this shift because, “Personal identity is taking precedence over social ones. The rigid constraints of what men should wear and what women shouldn’t wear are hardly relevant anymore, and thankfully so,” she says.

Péro participates in Pitti Uomo in Italy

A GENDER MULTIVERSE

Many new-age brands find that defining clothes by gender is a dated concept. For Resham Karamchandani of The Pot Plant, clothing has never been about gender. “Growing up we wore beautiful hand-me-downs of my aunts, brother and father. The Pot Plant is a gender-fluid label. It was about comfort. We work with bandhani and shibori, traditionally seen as supposedly feminine techniques in saris and dupattas, but we try to innovate patterns that appeal to everyone without compromising the authenticity of the craft,” she explains. 

Celine launched menswear for the first time in 74 years

Medha Khosla, founder of Anomaly, also notes how brands are increasingly celebrating gender-fluid clothing while knocking down traditional interpretations of men’s and womenswear. “Anomaly’s kurta shirt dress, workwear shirts, drawstring trousers and jackets have been worn by both men and women over the years,” says the designer who made inroads into menswear in 2017. 

Delhi-based label Anomaly reimagines workwear for men

Sachdeva adds how the lines of difference between menswear and womenswear have always been dictated by the society. “A few years back, comfort and utility was hardly the priority for womenswear designs. Similarly, creative possibilities for men were restricted due to brands commercial reasons as men wouldn’t have bought, say, an all-pink suit,” she says. 

Prabal Gurung presented menswear at NYFW Spring 2020

The commercial viability of menswear is certainly hard to ignore. “And, men are more loyal as customers than women,” says Deepshikha Khanna, head of apparel at Good Earth, the brand that launched its first store in Mumbai more than two decades ago. “Many of the women shopping at Good Earth wanted to buy clothes for their husbands or fathers. So it made sense for us to launch menswear last year,” discloses Khanna. 

The Row presented menswear after12 years in the business

SETTING THE TONE

In 2016, Alessandro Michele, the visionary behind Gucci, announced that the separation of the sexes on the runway for the Italian house will be now over. Michele’s iteration of menswear was creative, disruptive and made way for other luxury conglomerates that have viewed menswear as a limiting field previously. 

Unisex clothing is the way forward for many brands

In January 2019 Celine released its first men’s collection in its 74-year history. The show presented slim-cut tailoring and overcoats that switched between tweed, cashmere and parkas on the runway. 

NYC-based Prabal Gurung, who has been making womenswear for a decade, launched menswear in September 2018, and the Olsen sisters rolled out menswear at The Row a month later. Furthermore, Simon Porte Jacquemus presented his eccentric take on menswear in 2018 after announcing the new line by wearing a hoodie to the runway that read “New job l’homme Jacquemus”.

Unisex clothing is the way forward for many brands

FASHIONING THE FUTURE

Fashion has long straddled between the battle of the sexes. But, this is changing.The artisanal and concept-driven sartorial statements by men in 2020 can partly be credited to the way male celebrities are interacting with clothing. We’re living in a time where actor Billy Porter isn’t afraid to wear a tuxedo gown to the red carpet and back home, Bollywood star Ranveer Singh always leaves a mark, however outlandish it may seem, through his ensembles.

Menswear by Kanika Goyal and Amit Aggarwal

But, this shift isn’t simply about femme fashion for men. Dig deeper and you’ll see the lucrative opportunity it presents to fashion designers to increase their product categories while staying true to their aesthetics. According to Hawks and Bloomberg analysts, menswear is going to become an industry worth $33 billion this year. Plus, Euromonitor International suggests that menswear is selling faster than womenswear. This is also one of the key reasons why this extravagant shift in fashion houses seems more promising and pronounced.

Irrespective of the reasons, menswear is, in fact, getting invigorated with these revolutionary designs. And, (may I say) a much-awaited revolution is underway.

Photographs: Bodice (Indra Joshi), Prabal Gurung (Imaxtree), Jacquemus menswear (Jacquemus), The Row campaign (The Row)