New Delhi: Renowned menswear designer Kunal Rawal’s mood board may change every season, but some elements remain intact: versatility, gender fluidity and functionality.
Her recent couture outing at FDCI India Couture Week 2022 also marked her 15 years in the industry. Drawing inspiration from our diverse cultures and traditions, her collection, “Dear Men,” was dominant in structured pieces finished with exquisite embroidery and clever layering. Actor Arjun Kapoor closed the designer’s show in a tonal sherwani.
In an exclusive chat with IANSlife, Rawal spoke about his brand philosophy, inspiration and the things that matter.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
We are a contemporary luxury brand that places great importance on functionality. We don’t like to lock our product into a certain aesthetic – we want to cater to everyone.
Men’s fashion is undergoing a healthy turn. What is the trend according to you?
There are always new and different trends emerging. However, being true to your own style is something that truly reigns supreme. Covid has made us look deeper into our lives and as a result we have become more in tune with ourselves. People dress for themselves and don’t just follow fashions. Mood Dressing is also important – people wear what makes them happy. Finally, I think of functionality, because people are looking for luxurious and versatile products. They want something that gives them more value for their money; something that can be reused and reused.
Your stylistic inspiration?
I am inspired by the people I see or with whom I interact. It’s a very layered approach, but we try to work that into our storyline. India has such an authentic street style that is so fascinating. Each state has a different language, culture and dress. Plus, I’m hugely inspired by Mumbai – its people, its architecture, its sea, and everything in between.
Please elaborate on phosphorescent technology.
As a brand, we like to play with technology. Since childhood I have been fascinated by textiles, what more can be created and what can be done using technology. We have been exploring the phosphorescent collection for a year and a half and playing with the pigments and mixing them with our threads to create unique hand embroideries. It was very fun !
Your top three best dressed?
Well, that keeps changing. I think a lot of people dress well. Ranveer Singh because he dresses according to his mood and for himself. Top Gun’s Miles Teller dresses really cool. And, I don’t dress too badly myself at the moment. So maybe me?
What is your vision of sustainable fashion?
It is the need of the hour. As a brand, we have always believed in conscious production. Today more than ever, the industry is moving towards sustainability. Additionally, consumers are making ethical choices – this will automatically curb fast fashion. I think the conversation around sustainability has been so strong over the past few years in India that it’s now more than just a concept. We have customers who want to know more about the product, materials, sourcing, etc.
What have been your lessons from the pandemic?
It was difficult for everyone. The new normal has put a lot of things into perspective. It taught me to have a plan A and a plan B – something I had never believed in before. It is important to have a solid backup plan in place. Another great learning was “concentration”. There’s so much to do and there always will be, but until you prioritize and focus on the things that matter, you won’t see movement.
What future plans for the brand?
Well, there is so much to do because our 15 year journey has been about finding acceptance for our aesthetic, pushing the boundaries of contemporary Indian menswear. While we’ve made our mark and have a strong and discernable consumer base, I feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to design.
Therefore, we will focus on growing our aesthetic and applying it to different types of clothing and other products. We cater to occasions and functions and yet our range is so diverse – from modern luxury to deeply rooted traditional. We plan to build on that aesthetic and bring it to people who relate to it.