“Whenever I work on a new collection, I consider a few points very closely, one is for whom we want to put out the collection and who is the person going to be wearing it.It’s also a combination of me, my aesthetic sensibilities with what the market is today and thankfully the market is far more exciting today than it was a few years back; so we get to do things that are slightly non-conformist and have a slight departure from regular traditional wear,” Designer Kunal Rawal narrates. The designer creates consumer-forward products that are functional and boast of a smart design focusing on comfort and his label makes occasion wear more exciting, not conforming to the mould.
“The market has changed by leaps and bounds,”Kunal says adding, “If we look at the menswear market even a decade back, it used to be very different. We all had a certain perception about how occasionwear for Indian men would look and everybody just followed that. In fact when I started the label, I wanted to do it because I realised during my research that most of the men in India were very involved with the Western side of their wardrobe but when it came to occasionwear or Indian wear, it’s one kurta patiala, that goes to dry clean and comes back and what I got to hear a lot, someone in their family decides for them. So I try to put in design elements that are more relatable, more aesthetic and I wanted to start this conversation and engage them. Another thought was men did have options to choose from; it wasn’t a small rack in the women’s section. We think one of our biggest USPs is our TG is exactly my age.”
“If you look at the wedding sherwani we did for Shahid Kapoor, it was a departure from what you’d expect. It was padded for comfort, it was without any shine, just tone-on-tone threadwork, the button on top was not shut, there were no brooches or jewelry and with formal shoes. Also the thought and the concept of what men should be perceived as, the definition of masculinity has changed so much, the body language and lifestyles have changed, so catering to these new ideas was very important.I personally like versatility in the pieces, so you can wear them differently and get more value out of the product and I’m lucky the market’s thinking the same way,” Kunal adds.
Kunal is inspired by industrial and grunge style and uses these styles to create luxury. Today it has become his own world, where there was no right or wrong and there isn’t any right or wrong even today.
Creating a change
Kunal avers,“The best learnings I’ve had are from my ups and downs. The first pieces I did for proper occasion wear were too detailed; they became too expensive. And when I started meeting families, I realised wedding buying is a family experience. Then we started getting into their headspace, understanding their diverse needs. I love catering to that diverse audience, diverse moods. From adding geometric design elements, to linings that are sweat absorbent so that grooms can dance in their sangeet, I’m glad the audience has moved with me.My dad has always told me ‘Enjoy the first 10 years of your work life’and I’ve done exactly that. I’ve started my occasionwear retail and touchwood the market is moving towards my aesthetic; we currently have 4 stores in Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad. We are reaching a lot more market because of being digital. My clothes are not bound geographically, they are aesthetic-driven, so the digital platform is important for us. In addition we have retail partners in Ahmedabad, Raipur, Bengaluru and we also take part in pop-ups.”
“This year has been very interesting for all of us, I have learnt the value of plans A, B and C. The way menswear is moving today, I think we might be able to create the mecca of menswear, where the aesthetic will extend to not only apparel, but different product ranges we connect with. I’m having a lot of fun with design right now and I’m seeing it extend into different products. I’m a strong believer that the next 10 global brands or labels are going to be coming out of India,” Kunal states optimistically.