Menswear designer Kunal Rawal believes that with online consumption on the rise, Indian couture will also move ahead globally. He says "India has the richest heritage when it comes to couture and its future is getting brighter".
IANSlife caught up with the designer, who launched his latest collection in his first-ever virtual fashion show at the digital India Couture Week on Tuesday. He shares insight into the creations. Read excerpts:
How has the experience of your first virtual fashion show been?
Rawal: It has been an exciting and new experience working with this new format. In these Covid times it is important to keep your ears to the ground and adapt to the changing scenario; India Couture Week has done that well. Putting this collection together and shooting it digitally has been very exciting, I have had a few key learnings with this new format which I am really enjoying, as the concept enables us to really focus on the small details.
My looks are slightly more tone on tone, it's all hand detailed outfits with a whole bunch of textures being created; I am excited to show the details that would normally get missed during a live show. Because we are shooting a film one can go as close to the garment as you like, that is also one of the reasons why my collection is called 'Hide and Seek'. It has a whole bunch of shapes and silhouettes that I hope will cater to the occasion, from modern luxury to traditional events. I strongly believe that this collection is not geographically bound, it is meant for the man of today and connects with our aesthetics.
Why do you feel its for every groom and groomsmen?
Rawal: The inspiration for this collection is the man of today and his needs in the world we live in. It is a perfect representation of everything we stand for. We focused on a few pillars and thoughts, which are now even more relevant today. Versatility is an important aspect with couture. When you buy a piece it's important to get a bang for your buck and it should be able to be worn in several different ways.
The collection has a whole bunch of versatile separates from which you could create six to eight looks. In Covid times it becomes important to have luxurious pieces which you can get more value out of. Optionality, we are giving a wide range of menswear as it is important to have a power of choice, this is something that men's wear has lacked in the previous years so it is important to have an array of pieces to choose from, something that matches your personality and your body type.
Fits is something we take great pride in. This collection is all hand detailed and made in India. We are giving much more attention to Made in India and this trend is here to stay, there is no better place for Couture than India. The kind of workmanship we have is unparalleled. I am glad we get to show more of that with this new digital format.
Vocal for Local, has been a strong voice in support of Made in India. How do you feel we can aid our local artisans and craftsmen?
Rawal: The economy will move when we are all buying and selling 'Made in India'. As a designer it is our responsibility to take care of our artisans and craftsmen. The best way to support them is to put their work forward in a creative way which will make it relevant, and people can use and consume the products. With conversations like sustainability and Make in India, interest has also spiked in consumers where they are asking questions and looking at products with a closer eye. This is a positive step in taking care of the artists and artisans we have in India.
You have mentioned the introduction of 'photo sensitivity to sun on apparel'. Please tell us more about it.
Rawal: For me, the love of fashion has always been synced with the love of textile. With the product it is a domino effect where everything comes together to create a look - the comfort, visual appeal. Textile plays a huge role in this, I am proud to say that we create 80 percent of the fabrics we sew. With the changing times and needs, fabrics and textiles need to evolve regularly.
With the emergence of technology in textiles today we have the opportunity to play with interesting pigments, threads, details to make the product move and look the way we want it to. Photo sensitivity is a step in that direction, we've been playing with photosensitive pigments for some time now. The Solar pieces in our collection are all white in colour and when you go into the sun the colours change to a pink or a mint. The idea was to keep the outfits fun and playful; I enjoy these things and our customer also appreciates it when you get two outfits at the price for one. For a day function the outfit has a different kind of appeal and for night functions the look and feel of the outfit completely changes. We've played with photo sensitivity on the threads and have been able to create some very interesting textures using hand embroidery, we've been playing with pigments and printing which are also visible in the pieces.
I am also very fond of textures, so we've created a whole bunch of three dimensional textures for this collection with the use of handwork, metallic highlights. Some of our pieces have hand detailing on top of it. I personally love visual manipulation, we've created a whole bunch of textures where you see the garment and it looks like you're wearing a more stiff piece but when you come closer you see the movement of the fabric you realise it's as delicate as silk. We've added two new versions of our sweat absorbent linings keeping the humidity and weather in mind, some quilting keeping the cool North India weather in mind.
Fashion shows have played an integral part in a designer's new collection. Do you think digital shows will make a difference in how the industry perceives this?
Rawal: This is going to be a new approach for us but this will also be a very consumer forward approach where everyone gets a front row, they get to go as close to the garment as they like. Today we have a much larger audience viewing our collection live from the comfort of their home, this helps them look at the product a little more. Since this is pre-shot we are getting to show the product beautifully. The conversations designers and labels have today is going to be more omni-channel, it will have more of a digital bend to it. Going digital helps the industry viewers get a better picture of the brands storytelling since we get to control the narrative. I think this new change will be perceived very positively as it takes away from the constant movement and chaos and lets the viewer focus on the product.
Given the current situation, how do you see the future of couture in India?
Rawal: The future of couture in India is getting brighter and brighter. With the conversations we are having, the artisans and the craftsman we have, India has the richest heritage when it comes to couture. It is something that is exported all over the world and now globally Indian talent is being recognised. It is a big USP for Indian designers as we understand the techniques. In the next ten years, I can see global fashion houses coming out of India. Consumption wise, today people are much more mindful of what they are buying, they aren't buying a lot of fast fashion. With the pandemic we have become more aware of our surroundings and have begun valuing what we wear; ensuring it makes us feel better. Couture will most definitely be on the rise as it's something that works with being environmentally conscious and sustainable. With online consumption of couture on the rise, Indian couture will also move ahead globally.