Popular menswear designer Kunal Rawal’s mood board might alter every season, but there are some elements that stay intact – versatility, gender fluidity, and functionality.
His recent couture outing at the FDCI India Couture Week 2022 also marked his 15 years in the industry. Taking inspiration from our diverse cultures and traditions, his collection, ‘Dear Men’ was dominant in structured pieces finished with exquisite embroideries and smart layering. Actor Arjun Kapoor closed the show for the designer in a tone-on-tone sherwani.
In an exclusive chat, Rawal spoke about his brand philosophy, inspiration, and things that matter.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Rawal: We are a luxury contemporary brand that highly values functionality. We don’t like to box our product within a certain aesthetic – we want to cater to each and every one.
Menswear is experiencing a wholesome shift. What’s trending according to you?
Rawal: There are always new, different trends coming to the fore. However, being true to your own style is something that truly reigns supreme. Covid has made us introspect deeper into our lives and as a result, we’ve become more in sync with ourselves. People are dressing for themselves and not just following fads. Mood Dressing is big as well – people are wearing what makes them happy. Lastly, I think functionality as people are looking for products that are luxurious and versatile. They want something that gives them more value for their buck; something that can be reused and repurposed.
Your style inspiration?
Rawal: I get inspired by people that I see or interact with. It’s a very layered approach but we try to incorporate this into our storyline. India has such an authentic street style which is so fascinating. Every state has a different language, culture, and clothing. Also, I am hugely inspired by Mumbai – its people, architecture, sea, and everything in between.
Please elaborate on the glow-in-the-dark technology.
Rawal: As a brand, we love playing with technology. Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated with textiles what more can be created, and what can be done using technology. We’ve been exploring the glow-in-the-dark collection for the past year and a half and have been playing with pigments and mixing it with our threads to create unique hand embroideries. It’s been a lot of fun!
Your top three best-dressed?
Rawal: Well, it keeps changing. I think a lot of people dress well. Ranveer Singh because he dresses according to his mood and for himself. Miles Teller from Top Gun dresses really cool. And, I’m dressing not too badly myself right now. So maybe me?
What’s your take on sustainable fashion?
Rawal: It’s the need of the hour. As a brand, we’ve always believed in conscious production. Now, more than ever, the industry is moving towards sustainability. Also, consumers are making ethical choices – this will automatically curb fast fashion. I think the conversation around sustainability has been so strong in the last few years in India, that it is now more than just a concept. We have clients who want to know about the product, materials, sourcing, etc.
What have been your learnings from the pandemic?
Rawal: It’s been hard for everyone. The new normal has brought a lot of things into perspective. It’s taught me to have a Plan A and Plan B – something that I never believed in before. It’s important to have a strong backup plan in place. Another big learning has been ‘focus’. There’s so much to do and there always will be but until you don’t prioritise and focus on things that matter, you will not see movement.
What future plans for the brand?
Rawal: Well, there’s so much to do because our journey of 15 years has been about finding acceptance with our aesthetic, pushing the envelope with contemporary Indian menswear. While we have made our mark and have a strong and discernible consumer base, I feel that we haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to design.
Therefore, we are going to focus on growing our aesthetic and applying it to different kinds of products in apparel and otherwise. We cater to occasions and functions and yet our range is so diverse – from modern luxury to deep-rooted traditional. We plan to build on this aesthetic and take it to people that connect with it.