Manish Arora: It's time Indian men became more fashionable
"Can I have a glass of white wine?" Manish Arora asks his team. Settled in his suite, Arora is excited about the launch of his menswear collection for on online store. He's baffled and upset when his team says that the launch party will wrap up by 1 am to meet the city's nightout deadline. However, it's easy to make him happy all over again. He admits, "I am happy when I get to wear new clothes." We agree. Dressed in a sweatshirt from his line, Arora is excited to face our question round.
Manish Arora sports a sweatshirt and trousers from his new line. Pic/Satej Shinde
Q. Why are couture designers doing high street collaborations?
A. I think the main reason is how to reach more people. It's not easy for us to make clothes for that price range because we don't have that kind of mark ups or overheads. This gives us an opportunity to reach people who would not usually be able to buy from the brand.
Q. Doesn't it meddle with the brand's image?
A. Internationally, I know, it has become prestigious. Now, if you are asked to do a collaboration like this, that means you have arrived. It's not about demeaning your brand now, but making it bigger than ever before.
Q. Why menswear now?
A. I felt it would be a good avenue to understand whether men like my clothes. What better way than to start with Koovs because of their reach. It's the best way to test the market if I ever want to do a collection in the future. The inspirations have been from my last couture show for Indian by Manish Arora. We could not do butterflies and pink hearts for men. It's time Indian men became more fashionable.
Q. Where are they lacking?
A. They don't have much available here. Probably this would start a new trend. I don't find anything exciting here (I only wear Rajesh Pratap Singh). When I was in my 20s, there was only Benetton.
Q. Why has the presence of international brands increased in the past few years?
A. 65% of our population (apparently) is in their 30s. The young generation wants to spend money. This is the right moment for them.
Q. How has your Indian bridal line fared?
A. I am surprised by the way the brand is growing. My clothes are not for the weak hearted. Indian women are very adventurous, especially when they are getting married. They want things done at their best with all the golds and the pinks. That's pretty much what my work is and it would be unfortunate if I would not do bridal wear.
Q. Where does your sense of myriad colour combinations emerge from?
A. If you go to Rajasthan, a woman would be wearing red, blue, green, orange, yellow, purple, all together in one garment and still look convincing. So it's all around me, it's in me.
Q. How long did it take for the international audience to warm up to your work?
A. I will finish 10 years in Paris next season, and two years before that I was in London. I survived and have managed to infuse colours in their lives. Initially, it was new for them. Even now, if you visit London or France and ask them to name a designer who does colourful clothes, the first name will be mine. I have made my statement, which is what they look for internationally. They look for individual style, I happen to have that with colour and craftsmanship. I have drilled it in their brains now. Only in India people call my clothes kitschy.
Q. What do you think the Indian fashion industry needs?
A. To stick to your roots and modernise Indian not westernise it. Look at the past and make it modern, that's more relevant.
1. A politician you would like to dress?
It would be funny to dress Jayalalitha...I mean it (laughs).
2. What do you like to wear?
I lean towards the trackpant-ish stuff, ones that can be worn out in the evening too. For occasions, in daytime it’s comfort before style and at night it is style before comfort.
3. What else do you like to do?
I cook (not regularly). I enjoy cooking Italian, as it’s the easiest (laughs). I am addicted to TV series. Now I am stuck because I have finished binging on House of Cards and Game of Thrones.