The man shawl as a style statement may not be the ‘next big thing’, but it is fast inching closer to the top spot.
Men’s shawl, longer and broader than a woman’s usually 150x300 cm, does require a man of personality and character to drape it. Clearly, famous men spotted in shawls are not the trend gazing or following variety, but of the trend setting mould.
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Dr Farooq Abdullah and now Omar Abdullah, make a sublime style statement by draping the shawl. Amitabh Bachchan may as well be the poster boy for the shawl.
Madhu Jain, a designer who has spent over 25 years in the research and promotion of Indian handicrafts, opines, “A fine handcrafted shawl is more of a piece of history — be it the kalamkari shawl that Milind Soman so beautifully wore for my collection, or a fine Kashmiri kani shawl. It is a family heirloom and was worn and patronised by the royalty in the Mughal courts of yore. I would say men wearing shawls is a trend that has not been marketed and positioned profitably, unlike the other trends. More and more celebrities, who I would say are the new royalty, should support this trend.”
Another ace designer, whose ground-breaking work with hand-woven Bhagalpuri silk is recognised world over, Samant Chauhan adds, “Stoles/scarves and shawls are two different pieces of clothing. Both are, however, worn complementing the main garment. But, shawls have their own charm, apart from traditional value. They tend to make a very strong style statement and impact on the audience. I am happy to see the younger generation realising the core essence of rich shawl-weaving techniques of India. They are now treating it as a treasure, to be enjoyed over generations.”
The rich textile tapestry of India is incomplete without the art fine art of shawl-weaving and embellishing — be it the dhabla and tangalia shawls from Gujarat, pattu weaving in Rajasthan, fine kani weaving and sozni stich pashmina shawls of Kashmir, toda shawls of the Nilgiris or Punjab’s phulkari. Up north, there is a rich tradition of weaving and embroidering men’s shawls. In Punjab, the shawl comes with the ubiquitous phulkari pattern in resplendent shades celebrating life, and is worn by men on festive occasions.
Varuna Anand from design house, The Splendor of Kashmir, says, “I feel a man who drapes a shawl well enhances his charisma. It is truly a piece for the possession of a connoisseur. It is true that many people insist on my making stoles or scarves, but I have stuck to my commitment to the ancient art of shawl making.”
Quiz Mudita Chandra of The Carpet Cellar on ways in which a man can flaunt their prized jamewars and she says, “Two ways of wearing the opulent and stylish jamewar would be draped around the body with the ends over each arm and another where one can wrap it around the chest over the shoulder. These are ideal for Diwali parties and a winter wedding do!”
At a time when stoles and scarves have been done to death, a chip of the ‘old’ block, the shawl is poised to become the next ‘in thing’!