Indian men are waking up to the world of fashion but only a handful of women designers in the country are tailoring their work to fit them in. The women blame design limitations, dominance of international brands and lack of adequate study on menswear in Indian fashion schools for the incongruity.
Black shirt, beige pants, a chunky belt, and a backpack make for a casual yet chic style on the ramp. (Pic: Jasjeet Plaha)
Rajvi Mohan, Krishna Mehta, Ankita and Anjana Bhargav from the label ANKY, Sanchita Ajjampur and Nivedita Basu are amongst the few women from the design world who offer menswear in India. “Menswear is a smaller market with lesser margins. I am a firm believer that women have more fun in menswear but unfortunately the number is less,” said Mohan.
Delhi-based Mohan, who has established herself as a menswear designer in over five years, feels men themselves are more inclined to purchase international brands and so Indian boutiques focus more on womenswear.
“Many Indian men love spending heavily on international brands but when it comes to Indian designer wear, they feel hesitant in buying a single garment. It’s unfortunate especially when they (Indian customers) can get bespoke tailoring and better quality most times rather than buying off-the-shelf international designers,” says Mohan.
“Also, boutiques in India give more preference to womenswear. Profit margins are also much higher in womenswear. The ratio of profit margin between menswear and womenswear is 30:70. Menswear market is at starting phase (in India); so hopefully things will improve in times to come,” she added.
Male designers, such as Rohit Bal, Tarun Tahiliani, Manish Malhotra, Vikram Phadnis and Gaurav Gupta, make garments for women. But the same, of course, doesn’t hold good for women designers. Mumbai-based designer Krishna Mehta, who has been designing menswear for more than two decades, feels designing for men is more challenging.
“Designing for men is more challenging as there is restricted variety. The reason why fewer designers are seen in the menswear line is also because there’s not enough stress placed on menswear design at fashion schools,” said Mehta. Male designer Neelanjan Ghosh, who designs for both genders, said: “I think designing womenswear is easy. Yes, designers gets praise for menswear collection on ramp, but there is hardly any buyer for them. Also I believe that men understand women well so they design womenswear, but vice-versa is not true.”
Limited clientele Designer Ankita Bhargav believes that only a specific clientele opts for Indian designer menswear. “The menswear market is a new niche and is now beginning to evolve. But since it is niche, fewer designers have entered into it,” says Bhargav.
While many designers feel menswear is a tougher market to deal with, there are a few who feel that menswear is more challenging creatively. “We always thought of presenting something which is very unusual and experimental, thus we chose menswear. Working on menswear brings excitement and it is a challenge for us. It also gives us a chance to innovate constantly,” said Kolkata-based designer Saumitra Narang, who specialises in menswear.