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HindustanTimes Sun,24 Aug 2014

Cool formal is in: men’s office-wear becomes slimmer, brighter, bolder

Himani Chandna Gurtoo and Anupama Airy , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 03, 2014
First Published: 23:39 IST(3/1/2014) | Last Updated: 01:49 IST(4/1/2014)

Corporate dress-code seems to have got a makeover. Black suits and red ties are passé. Today’s office executive likes to sport ‘cool’ formals in vibrant colours tailored to fit the form: extra-slim is in, even slim-fit is not cool enough!

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Apparel brands such as Raymond, Vimal, Wills Lifestyle, Grasim, Louis Phillipe and Jade Blue among others are promoting this new look formal that reflects the modern world. Advertising campaigns are tailored around this new look, too.

Recently, Vimal, the textile brand from Reliance Industries, celebrated a ‘no-tie day’ and organised tie-burning parties. ITC, which owns Wills Lifestyle, is conducting an ‘inspire the change’ campaign that stresses being stylish at work. “Menswear consumers are in a phase of transition; they no longer want to wear defined styles and silhouettes, but want to experiment,” said Amit Gugnani, senior vice-president, fashion, at Technopak, a retail and management consultancy.

Van Heusen, licensed to the Aditya Birla Group, which also owns Louis Phillipe in India, launched a range of exciting formals in 2012. The brand claims it accounts for 45% of India’s entire office formalwear sales. “There’s a growing trend among the next-gen professionals to look good and make a statement even at work,” said Vinay Bhopatkar, brand head, Van Heusen.  “The formals are becoming a little more exciting.”

High energy colours have spread from accessories such as ties and pocket squares to the main garments. And with bold checks, stripes, inner detailing patterns and slimmer fits, companies are trying to create excitement around work-wear. “The Indian male is becoming more conscious, with style evolving across all dressing occasions including work-wear,” said Atul Chand, CEO, lifestyle retailing, ITC.

Vimal’s ‘UNFORMAL’ campaign launched in August seems to have started a trend. “Ever since the launch of our ‘unformal ‘ wear, all competitors have started presenting formals in a different way,” claimed Anand Parekh, president, RIL textiles division.

Company executives say that comfort is the primary requirement.  “I like to experiment with colours that are appropriate for the season, while mixing the traditional style with contemporary designs,” said Malvinder Mohan Singh, executive chairman, Fortis Healthcare.

Companies are trying to adapt to the winds of change. “Our employees are the ambassadors of the organisation and their attire reflects the culture at their workplace,” said S Varadarajan, executive president, human resources, Tata Teleservices Limited.

Perhaps symbolic of this trend is the new “Complete Man” from Raymond. Said Robert Lobo, head of the apparel business at Raymonds: “Now, every consumer wants to look young and fitter and is more adaptable. In line with the changes, the ‘Complete Man’ is younger, if not in age then in mindset and attitude.”


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