Van Heusen India Mens Week in Delhi scored on many accounts

The verdict is unanimous. It’s a thumbs up for the recently concluded Van Heusen India Mens Week from the fashion industry. In a country where menswear generates 80 per cent of the branded sales market, there was so far no platform exclusively meant for menswear.

The few fashion designers engaged in the genre didn’t get their due showcasing their collection in the other fashion weeks and got eclipsed by the overwhelming presence of womenswear. “It has brought men’s fashion to the forefront. It’s no more playing second fiddle to women’s fashion,” says designer Rajvi Mohan, the sole woman designer in the country who does only menswear.

Of course, the changes won’t happen overnight but the process to bring about the changes that everybody would want to see here has at least set in, feels David Abraham of Abraham & Thakore. “It’s a good start. It has raised awareness among buyers that you have got to allocate separate budget for menswear. People will now follow a professional trade calendar. For us personally, it has got us two-three clients which we wouldn’t have met otherwise,” he says. The designer duo showcased in a stall.

Spread over three days, the men’s fashion extravaganza witnessed participation from 28 designers across India and 60 buyers, which included names like Evoluzione, Samsara, Aza, Kimaya, Wills Lifestyle, Fuel, Cammomile, Persona, 85 Lansdown. Ninety per cent of the buyers came from the domestic market. “It enabled the customers/buyers to see how many variations are available and wearable with a twist. It was a big revelation for them. For retailers, it gave them a bigger kitty to choose from, rather than just the four-five names they earlier had,” says Sunil Sethi, President, Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), the apex fashion body behind the gala event which will now be an annual affair.

Most importantly, Sethi feels, it led the designers to raise the bar themselves. “It was one of the best shows of Rajesh Pratap Singh. Right from the understated opulence of JJ Valaya to the simplicity of Singh, to the quirkiness of Nitin Bal Chauhan, everybody had something new to offer,” adds Sethi.

While the Mens Week gave a platform to young designers like Himmat Singh Jaipur and many others to showcase their talent, it managed to entice a few who are largely occupied with women’s wear to start a new innings with menswear. A case in point is Rina Dhaka. “One always thought of it but never got down to doing it. I wouldn’t have got into menswear if there was no men’s fashion week, but it gave me that final push. It’s a small start,” says Dhaka, one of exhibitors at the Week.

For Rocky S, the platform pushed him to get into menswear seriously. “I am now getting into menswear in a big way. I am taking it as a serious step to push menswear,” says Rocky, whose collection was inspired by a traveller and had a Bohemian easy-going feel.

Narendra Kumar, yet another veteran in menswear who was showcasing at an FDCI event after a long time also, feels it provides a big window to men’s fashion. “Menswear is not easy. Unlike women’s clothing where everything is outside, this one requires work on mundane things,” says Kumar. He points out, “The biggest stars in Bollywood are men, and therein lies the opportunity.”

For Samant Chauhan, an upcoming designer, the Mens Week provided a much-needed boost to the modelling industry.

“We always feel a crunch in other fashion weeks but here we had a pool of 32 models. I used 28 models and none of them had a change. In this case, we had professional male models flying in from different parts of the country,” notes Chauhan.

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