Androgynous fashion: Meet the Indian models defying gender norms

Indian fashion gets more inclusive as Indian society changes — designers and models both say that gender-fluid looks are in demand both for runway shows and campaigns.

fashion and trends Updated: Feb 15, 2018 17:45 IST
Akshay Kaushal
Akshay Kaushal
Hindustan Times
Lakme Fashion Week,Amazon Fashion Week,Indian male models
Models like Malkeet Singh, Rabanne Jamsandekar, and TJ Singh are changing the face of Indian fashion.(Photos: Instagram, Viral Bhayani )

The Indian fashion runway is witnessing a revolution. And spearheading it are the gender-neutral models who’ve carved a niche for themselves, with designers approaching them for campaigns, runway shows, and catalogues. They model for menswear, women’s clothing, and androgynous attire.

Talking about this shift, designer Nikhil Mehra says, “Every 10 years, the modelling industry sees a shift. In the ’90s, it was Milind Soman who revolutionised the Indian fashion scene with his masculinity. Now, the norms are changing — we have models like Rabanne Jamsandekar and TJ Singh, who represent the new India by being who they are. We’ll see more demand for these androgynous models in the days to come. We’ve now got models shouting ‘individuality’ and not ‘masculinity.’”

Picture by @heytambe.💚 #blackeye

A post shared by Rabanne Jamsandekar (@itsrabannebitch) on

The interesting thing is that TJ is gender-fluid mainly for the purpose of modelling. He says, “I go to gender fluidity when it comes to makeup or like just wearing a women’s top or something like that. I love to try and work on different things.”

Rabanne, who has been doing gender-neutral modelling for three years now, says that the trend is gaining pace, with designers categorically wanting androgynous models for their campaigns and ramp shows. “The demand has certainly increased a lot and I’m lucky that I joined modelling at a time when we’re required to showcase their clothes in the best possible way. In fact, the other male models look up to us when it comes to style.”

Designer Anvita Sharma, who showcased her genderless collection at Lakmé Fashion Week, believes that gender fluidity is permeating the fashion scenario in India. “People have slowly but visibly started accepting gender-fluid fashion,” she says. “Androgynous models, trans models and skinny males with feminine features are becoming popular — with their camouflage character, they fit into these kinds of looks. Fashion reflects the mood of society; hence, it’s easier now for people to relate to them.”

Delhi-based model Malkeet Singh, who has also been doing androgynous modelling says, “The only place where you accept and celebrate all kinds of people is the fashion world. Getting major catwalk shows and campaigns validates the fact that we’re appreciated.”

First Published: Feb 15, 2018 17:43 IST