Fashion in India is headed in a new direction - the male closet. The market is at a nascent state and dominated by traditional wear like sherwanis and bandhgalas, but it is growing very fast, say designers.
Not many Indian men know about slim fits, double cuffs and flat front trousers yet, but they are getting there.
"I think the Indian menswear market is far behind women's wear. It is going to take time, but if we compare it to the last five-seven years, men's fashion market has grown very fast. Guys are much more fashion-conscious now and want to look more presentable," designer Sanjay Hingu, who specializes in men's wear, said.
Mumbai-based designer Nachiket Barve, who designs for both men and women, feels the "fashion market for men is evolving, but it is still in a transitory phase.”
Surprisingly, India is the fourth destination in the world that hosts a men's fashion week — Van Heusen India Men's Week (VHIMW) — and this clearly points to the growing market for men's wear.
Designers like Raghav-endra Rathore, Arjun Khanna, Ashish Soni, Troy Costa, Rajiv Mohan and Manoviraj Khosla are known mainly for their men's wear line that is high on immaculate detailing, impeccable cuts and chic designs.
Swapnil Shinde feels it is important for designers to understand what men want.
"I just feel that there are not a lot of people, who want to experiment, and want to stick to classic, basic designs. If I do men's wear and that too come up with over-the-top designs, no one will buy them and I will be bankrupt. So I am not doing it," said Shinde.
"It's a bit limited right now, but it's growing slowly. But if you are able to understand the market and are offering good designs at affordable prices, men will lap it up," he added.
Hingu feels the majority of men buy designer clothes, which are very Indian.
"Right now only Indian wear is appreciated by Indian men. They are somehow not buying Western lines by Indian designers. I think we (designers) should come out with edgy, chic and sophisticated men's wear that is marketed well and fits their taste and suits their pockets as well," he said.
"And men too should opt for smart Western wear because they wear it more often than a traditional Indian dress or sherwani," he added.
Sunil Sethi, president of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) that organizes the three-day VHIMW in the capital, believes it is just a matter of time before men's fashion takes a 360-degree turn.
"The sole aim of organizing the men's fashion week is one can see how strong men's fashion wear is going to be in the coming years. There was always a niche section of men interested in dressing up and they too would be splurging on international brands," Sethi said.
"But the sole aim of VHIMW is to tap the men's wear market in India and promote designers who deal exclusively in men's wear, so that people know them and buy from them. Men too want to look good and hence the market will bloom," he added.
Likewise, Niranjana Adhya, co-founder of the Koslak brand, feels the men's wear market in India has huge potential.
"Marketwise, male fashion in India is pretty good. I think mens are getting more and more fashion- conscious. They want to have their own identity and want to associate themselves with some kind of aesthetic appeal. The market is there, you just need to tap it," said Adhya.