4th min read
Photo source: GQIndia
Kunal Rawal – the youngest designer to present his collection at Lakme Fashion Week, a well-known name in the entertainment industry for his clothing and a connoisseur of trendy and avant-garde menswear. These are some of the awards that best describe Rawal’s success in the fashion industry. But of course that’s not all.
As a firm believer in designs that combine “traditional works of art” with functionality, Rawal strives to offer men a wide range of clothing that can be worn alternatively and best suits their comfort.
Brown Girl Magazine was privileged to speak to the designer himself as he talks about his journey, unique designs, aesthetics, and the inspiration behind his brand pillars.
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How did your label come about and how long have you been in the industry?
I’ve been in the industry for 15 years, from founding my first label Dstress to our label for festive wear! I was introduced to the clothing export industry for the first time and with knowledge of construction, silhouette and textiles I started my first label Dstress – a young label for contemporary menswear. In parallel to Dstress, I did costume design for several prominent figures in the Hindi film industry. A natural next step for me was to create an ethnic evening collection for the modern Indian man.
Which of your collections is your favorite and why?
I think every collection is something special to me in its own way. As a brand, we tend to take inspiration from what’s going on around us at this time and I think that’s why each collection is special in its own way. I think a collection that is close to my heart is definitely “engaging”. This was the collection we presented on the Bombay Worli Sea Link Promenade in 2020. The whole show came together really well and really highlighted our brand pillars. As a Bombay boy, we love to be inspired by the city and I think the opportunity to show my collection in such an iconic and surreal place really brought the clothes to life.
Another collection that went down well with me was Bennie & Clyde, as the entire campaign was shot in New York City – a city I absolutely love. This collection presented many multifunctional versatile pieces. As a whole, I find that this collection really represents the “New Aesthetic”, with tone-on-tone embroidery, beautiful geometric patterns and versatile individual pieces that combine to form a great piece; This piece brings together everything we love. You can disassemble most of the outfits in the collection and, depending on the occasion, simply wear them as a kurta, a bandi kurta set or a 3-piece suite.
I also wear this collection because our philosophy has always been that our customers are not tied to a geographic location. We design with the global modern man in mind and this collection really takes inspiration from ingrained traditional and modern luxuries to create the perfect fusion for the modern man.
Can we talk about your latest Vision Quest collection that you presented at India Couture Week? How was this collection different from the others?
‘Vision Quest’ touches on the idea of vulnerability and individuality. As we go through life we are constantly trying to find ourselves, and I don’t mean that in an existential way. I think casual wear has been dominated by restrictions in the past. What is appropriate for a man or a woman, what color suits them or what makes them look out of place? We had to work with these specific parameters to make sure what the garment would look like, but now the world is changing and people are becoming more adventurous with their looks. This collection is intended for all types of people, regardless of their size, shape, skin color or gender. Today it’s about expressing your individuality, whatever that may be, and that’s what the label stands for.
Last season we played with solar pigments, where clothes change color when hit by sunlight, this season we played with glow-in-the-dark pieces accompanied by heavy embroidery. This is another element that I’m very excited about because it makes the piece more relatable to young India. The idea behind this collection was to make casual clothing fun again. We’ve incorporated new layers of smart design – most of our Sherwanis now have hidden pockets to add functionality to the outfit. We played around with fabric blends like linen, jute linen, cotton-based suit fabrics, organzas, denim and hand-woven fabrics. Basically, you will see a lot of new fabrics that have been added to the collection to create a new level of comfort and functionality.
Talk to us about how your father’s sense of style inspires you and your work.
Let’s just say that my father is undoubtedly the most stylish man. He will be my eternal muse. He has a very innovative sense of style that borders on anti-trend. He’s always had an interest in fashion and clothing, which rubbed off on me, and I firmly believe that has a lot to do with who I am today. What I love about his style is that he makes individual pieces his own, which has become one of the pillars of our label. When you come to our store you will see many unique pieces that can be combined and combined to create complete looks; It’s something we started because of him and I think it’s one of our strongest pillars.
Your favorite catwalk trend in 2021/2022?
Functionality is such a strong trend right now. Consumers are looking for intricate pieces that translate into more than one look, and I personally believe this is the future of fashion. I think customization and personalization is another trend that I absolutely love. In this day and age, being true to yourself is so important and it is so important that you can make your outfit your own with small, customizable details.
A fashion faux pas you advise against?
The Jali Ganjis from the 80s, they were never fashionable and I hope they never get there!
Experience an exclusive Instagram LIVE session with Kunal Rawal in person as we unpack his India Couture Week ‘Vision Quest’ collection later this month!
Sandeep Panesar is an editor and freelance writer based in Toronto. She enjoys everything from the Christmas season to the cold weather to the warm drinks available during the winter months – a real Canadian, right? When she’s not watching her favorite Bollywood movies or sipping tea and devouring pakoras (or timbits), she wants her writing assignments to keep the pulse of community issues high. Sandeep is driven by her passion for fashion and writing, and uses both as catalysts to express her individuality; She is a passionate believer in the power of the word.