Google fashion designer Manish Arora and you will be treated to kaleidoscopic colours, exaggerated prints and an overall fearless approach to fashion. Does this no-holds-barred candour extend to the internationally renowned designer’s personality as well?
In Mumbai for the launch of his first-ever menswear line, in collaboration with online retailer Koovs.com, the living room of Arora’s hotel suite is peppered with key pieces from the collection. The room comes to life as he enters with his entourage. He gets down to business right away — discussing the look he should wear for our photo shoot. The frame is set and the photographer assures him that he looks perfect in the shot. “Liar!” he laughs in response. Candidness, it would appear, Arora does not lack.
Reaching a wider audience
Admittedly excited about this high street collection, he says, “More than the right time, this was the right opportunity.” After all, the e-commerce platform will allow him to reach a wide audience minus any geographical barriers, and the affordable price points (priced between Rs 495 to Rs 1,995) are bound to attract men who may otherwise not be able to afford his brand. “The collaboration is with my Indian by Manish Arora label, which has been adapted for men. The design philosophy and core value — which is happiness — remains the same,” he adds.
While the collection may be a first of sorts for the designer, Arora is no stranger to collaborations and has tied up with the likes of Swatch, M.A.C Cosmetics, Amrapali and Swarovski, among others, in the past. He feels that such tie-ups are a great way for designers to increase their brand value and reach.
One can’t deny that Indian men, at large, prefer to play it sartorially safe. An approach as kitschy and eccentric as Arora’s is bound to be uncharted territory for them. “Yes, Indian men can be more adventurous when it comes to fashion, but a change is coming about slowly. They are definitely ready,” he says. So, how should they go about sporting bold colours and prints? “Have your basics in place, but also have that one special piece, which you can mix and match in many ways. This could be a T-shirt, jacket or even trousers, but it should reflect your personality,” he advises.
In fact, a strong personality and confidence are a man’s most fashionable possessions, according to the designer. “Muscles and big biceps don’t make you stylish. Understand what looks good on you and be comfortable in it. You could be wearing the best clothes, but if you’re conscious, people will be able to see it.” He also says that T-shirts — black, white, navy blue and maybe pink — are must-haves.
All about comfort
Arora’s personal style is about comfort and practicality too. “I prefer fashion that can carry over from day to night without having to change. I also believe in adapting to the situation I am in. For instance, I wear a lot of black in Paris but am crazier than anybody else at Burning Man.” Ask him about the most stylish men in his books, and he takes a minute to mull it over. “People generally ask me about stylish women!” he exclaims before adding, “I would have to say David Bowie (musician) for his androgynous take on style.”
Know the designer
Manish Arora was awarded the Légion d’honneur by the French government in February 2016 for his contribution to the world of fashion. The first Indian designer to be given this distinction, Arora says that, “It comes with a big responsibility — it makes you conscious and aware of yourself. I hope it will inspire many others to strive for the honour too.”
The designer, who normally shuttles between France and India, fills us in on some of his favourite city experiences.
Eat: Trishna, Kala Ghoda and Mahesh Lunch Home, Juhu.
Drink: I used to be fond of Aurus in Juhu.
Explore: I like walking around Colaba.
Shop: Bombay Electric in Colaba is a must-visit.