I am all for the sheen, not shine: Designer Kunal Rawal

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By the time we meet designer Kunal Rawal on a busy Tuesday morning at Dstress, his Juhu store, he is already on his second large coffee, and predictably is buzzing with energy, but that’s not just because of the coffee; he is a morning person. He has had a busy weekend — he presented his latest collection Confluence at the recent edition of the Lakme Fashion Week — and a busy month, he opened his Delhi store at Emporio, and there are plans afoot for one in Hyderabad as well.

He started the year with a bang, with his flagship store at the erstwhile Rhythm House, the iconic music store in Kala Ghoda, Mumbai’s art district. “I love putting a show together. I love the energy, the crazy hours and 50 cups of coffee. I could not have asked for a better year. Getting Rhythm House was surreal, people don’t normally associate a heritage building with fashion. But that’s the point, fashion should surprise you naa. I did luck out with the venue, that area is a few beats relaxed than the rest of Mumbai,” says Rawal, the man of the moment where men’s fashion is concerned.

Rawal is an exception of sorts in the Indian fashion scene, where womenswear has always been the thing that raked in the moolah. Menswear was always relegated to the second slot and served as a bonus. But Rawal was always interested in men’s fashion, a decision that stemmed from the need to make clothes that he could wear. “I started out by making clothes for myself, and then for friends. I remember that time when fashion was not taken seriously, it was just a creative hobby. I am glad to be part of the journey where it has become this powerful industry. I see the same with menswear today. I was told that if I don’t do womenswear I won’t survive, because women shop for men. But, let me tell you, men like dressing up and being involved with the process as much as women do, if not more. We are as concerned about our paunch showing as women,” says Rawal. “And I wanted to bridge the gap between two categories that exist for menswear – the highly opulent, wedding clothes, which all look the same and the simple office wear. How about something cool for a Friday night? Or a casual work party? What does one wear then?”

Rawal is an exception of sorts in the Indian fashion scene, where womenswear has always been the thing that raked in the moolah. Menswear was always relegated to the second slot and served as a bonus. But Rawal was always interested in men’s fashion, a decision that stemmed from the need to make clothes that he could wear. “I started out by making clothes for myself, and then for friends. I remember that time when fashion was not taken seriously, it was just a creative hobby. I am glad to be part of the journey where it has become this powerful industry. I see the same with menswear today. I was told that if I don’t do womenswear I won’t survive, because women shop for men. But, let me tell you, men like dressing up and being involved with the process as much as women do, if not more. We are as concerned about our paunch showing as women,” says Rawal. “And I wanted to bridge the gap between two categories that exist for menswear – the highly opulent, wedding clothes, which all look the same and the simple office wear. How about something cool for a Friday night? Or a casual work party? What does one wear then?”

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