Men in skirts and women in over-sized jackets, Kunal Rawal on blurring gender lines in fashion
Kurtas with back zippers, Patiala silhouettes, and antique silver rings — all for men. Designer Kunal Rawal on how fashion is breaking long-enforced gender stereotypesHT48HRS_Special Updated: Oct 14, 2016 16:19 IST
And we’re back with another trend last seen in the ’60s — gender-neutral fashion. Just last month, actor Ranveer Singh made news when he attended an awards function in a full-length skirt. I’m convinced this trend will last not just the season, but will continue through the decade. Unisex fashion offers relaxed silhouettes and fits, a quality that makes it such a popular trend. How these silhouettes fall on different body shapes and forms is what makes androgyny so exciting.
In recent times, we’ve seen the rise of an individualistic approach to fashion. With a unisex style, the same garment can and will be worn differently by different people. There’s room for flexibility.
Fashion has often been accused of conforming rigidly to gender roles. Now’s the chance for the industry to grow by putting out pieces with cross-gender appeal. In fact, one of our bestseller kurtas of this season has a back zipper silhouette, which requires the boys to be zipped up from the back. It’s incredible to see Indian men having no qualms about asking someone to zip them up.
Admittedly, women have more options to pick from a man’s wardrobe — be it boyfriend shirts or men’s watches. They’ve been working the androgynous look for ages now. For a man to borrow from his woman’s wardrobe is a little tricky. But it’s not impossible.
You can begin with something as basic as sunglasses. In my opinion, except for the opulent, shapely ones (that are meant specifically for women) sunglasses are pretty unisex. Stoles are another item men can borrow from the opposite gender. While there are limitless ways to drape, the twisted style helps cut bulk. A stylish way to drape would be to wrap it around the neck with a small knot at the back. We’ve already seen skinnies become a rage in men’s wear. Slimmer silhouettes and tights are a good way for men to experiment with the genderless trend. Same goes for the Patiala silhouette or the kilt. Be warned though, the kilt is only for the seriously fashion-forward man.
The women’s sections typically tend to stock more colourful items. I myself have picked up mobile covers and key chains in so many fun colours from there. Men can also try out a few rings and bracelets from the woman’s accessory collection, especially the antique silverware.
Today, there are quite a few options for bags that are somewhere between manly duffels and totes. When it comes to shoes, I personally love creeper footwear. Creeper shoes have thick crepe soles, or platforms, which come from women’s footwear.
So, go ahead, push the boundaries a little more, and don’t be afraid to raid your woman’s wardrobe.
Rawal is a leading men’s fashion designer. He tweets as @kunalrawalvibe.