Dressing men is not an easy task, and often, thanks to the primacy of women’s wear as a barometer of trends and style, a thankless one. But some Indian designers undoubtedly take the cake when it comes to menswear.
Described variously as the doyen of Indian fashion and a flamboyant artist, Tarun Tahiliani has always been larger than life. He almost single-handedly brought high fashion and couture to Indian design.
Yet, his menswear designs reflect a nice balance between the classily understated and the extraordinary. His designs show off his love for the classic Indian concepts of draping and wrapping, and yet, his menswear looks to have a distinct international feel.
Trained in marketing at the Wharton School of Business, Tahiliani turned to fashion in the late ‘80s, and following a stint at the New York Fashion Institute of Technology, started his own store, Ensemble, in 1987—one of the first of its kind in the country. To many, he has been the face of Indian fashion, showing his collections in Milan and being awarded the “Order of the Star of Indian Solidarity” in Italy.
One of the originals in designer Indian menswear, Arjun Khanna has never shied away from flamboyance. Thus, his men’s clothes boast of elegant cuts, but they’re also truly stylish without being overtly cluttered.
Today, he positions his label as a leading Indian bespoke menswear maker. Khanna’s odyssey started when he established his label in Mumbai in 1990 and success through the decade saw the birth of Arjun Khanna Couture.
His designs are iconoclastic, moving away from stolid patterns and experimenting with intricate detailing and opulent designs. Most importantly, though, his creations are never short on the all-important wearability factor. He believes that clothes should be beautiful and classical, but with enough twists in the detail to keep them interesting.
Another of the ’80s batch of designers, Suneet Verma started his career in 1986 after graduating from the London School of Fashion... Add to this his experience of designing for international design houses like Donna Karan, Carmen Marc Valvo and Nicole Miller.
Specialising in couture, Verma’s designs are zany and irreverent, with emphasis on apparently mismatched clothes.
It all comes together quite well, though, and his outfits are classics. It has been a great career so far for Verma, with solo shows in London, New York and Hong Kong.
Rohit Gandhi & Rahul Khanna
Rohit Gandhi (L) & Rahul Khanna
Rohit Gandhi began his career as a designer with a New York-based fashion house before launching H2O in the late ‘90s.
The brand specialised in shirts and ties for men. Rahul Khanna was working as a freelance stylist and designer at various leading export and fashion houses in New Delhi and Mumbai.
In 1998, the two joined forces to launch H20-CUE. It was only after H20-CUE came into existence that they branched out into other areas like women’s wear. Today, their men’s line is considered one of the best in the country. With smart cuts and an emphasis on edgy silhouettes—structured jackets, slim trousers, skinny ties— the duo’s designs are always something to look forward to.