Finally, men get their due as the country’s first Men’s Fashion Week is about to begin. Sangeetha Devi Dundoo reports…

The next time you are channel surfing and spot a designer giving his expertise on what to wear and what not to, notice who the target audience are. Eight out of ten times, the focus is on womenswear. Different seasons of Fashion Weeks (Lakme, Wills Lifestyle and Delhi Fashion Weeks) have been no different with majority of designers showcasing womenswear. A few designers have exclusive lines for men while most others include men’s collections to punctuate endless lines for women. For once, menswear will hog all the limelight at the forthcoming Van Heusen Men’s Fashion Week, organised by Fashion Design Council of India. In the first such event in India, 15 designers will showcase their collections on the ramp, in New Delhi, from September 11 to 13.

Definitely male

The designers participating will include those who’ve been specialising in menswear, like Asish Soni, with others who dabble with both menswear and womenswear, like Rocky S, Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna. “Ashish Soni, Rohit and Rahul will be presenting the grand finale. They are known for their design and clothing construction,” says Sunil Sethi, president FDCI. Business for menswear has grown manifold, Sethi explains, with 80 per cent of sales in the branded segment in the country coming from menswear.

Branded wear for men has been a lucrative business but most designers feel menswear is “boring and limiting”. Hyderabad, for example, has very few designers who cater to menswear, both couture and prêt. Former NIFTian and designer Sagar Tenali, who primarily designs menswear, argues, “Those who design for women feel there’s nothing much for men apart from trousers, denims and shirts. Men today want exclusive formal and evening wear and pick up jackets, blazers and shirts in new styles. The very fact that international brands like Armani, Dolce and Gabbana want to expand their market in India shows the business potential. Men, unlike women, walk into designer stores to make purchases and not window shop!” A Fashion Week for men, he feels, is a great way to promote designerwear for men but rues the lack of publicity for the event.

Male models too have to rough it out in the industry. “The fashion industry is dominated by women. If top female models are paid Rs. 40,000 per day, established male models get Rs. 20-30,000. The money isn’t bad at all, but it never measures up to what the women get,” says Hyderabad model Farhad Shahnavaz, who walked the ramp for Sabyasachi Mukherjee at Lakme Fashion Week last year, when the designer decided to have something for the groom as part of his wedding collection, Bridal Sutra.

The new Men’s Fashion Week has a mix of established and new models. The fashion fraternity knows that new models walk the ramp more for the spotlight than for the money offered. Only top models or model-turned-actors like John Abraham, Milind Soman and Arjun Rampal get the price they command. Paris and Milan have their own editions of Men’s Fashion Week and now, it’s our turn. The FDCI has signed a three-year contract with Van Heusen for the annual event. So, let’s hear it for the boys.

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