In an interview with Lounge, the designer talks about her new menswear store, her debut at India Couture Week and the politics of fashion.
Known for exploring materiality and creating uniquely engineered textiles, designer Rimzim Dadu is currently excited about two things: a new independent menswear flagship store in New Delhi and her grand debut at the 10-day India Couture Week run by the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), which kicks off on July 25 in Delhi.
He launched his menswear category about four years ago, holding a small collection at his flagship store at DLF Emporio to test the market. The overwhelming response took the designer by surprise. “It taught us that men wanted clothes that were beyond the usual and boring. Men’s fashion as a category grew a lot in recent years and became a big part of our shows. A few months ago, we felt the time was right to have a space dedicated to men’s fashion and here we are,” says Dadu.
In an interview with Lounge, the designer talks about her new store, her collection that will be part of India Couture Week and the politics of fashion. Edited excerpts:
The menswear category has been very specific, confined to bandi, bandhgalas and sherwanis. How do you plan to introduce new clothing solutions for men looking for cutting-edge and experimental clothing?
I would say it is a cliché that men only want bandis, sherwanis and bandhgalas. India has grown at such a fast pace that people are more confident in owning their personalities. This is evident in the choices men make, when it comes to weddings and also everyday clothing. Our weddings have changed. Not everyone is comfortable wearing a sherwani for their sangeet and cocktail parties, or for parties like New Year’s Eve.
One of the crucial factors at work in men’s fashion is tailoring, especially for tuxedos. We have an entire unit just for tuxedos. And I can tell you that men are now wearing metal wire tuxedos with ease and style. I think it’s time we stopped taking stereotypes about men’s clothing seriously.
You’ve been working with engineered textiles for years. Do you see how the Indian luxury menswear market is evolving?
The men’s fashion market has already evolved and will continue to grow in the coming years. Men appreciate cutting-edge design and textiles just as much as women, and it’s evident in the success of our menswear line.
We will build on the success of our previous collections and continue to evolve our design language for men. The idea is to serve men with different aesthetic sensibilities; news silhouettes will definitely be a part of this strategy.
Your Indian Couture Week off-site show is once again inspired by nature. What inspires you to return to nature again and again?
I have always been drawn to nature. I spent a lot of time, still do, at our house in Nainital when I was a teenager. I like nature when it is raw and without a manicure. I also love exploring unusual materials and their hidden potential in design. Therefore, very often you will see our collections at the intersection of my two main interests. Nature will be present in my collections and shows in some form, and this time it will be no different.
Once again, I am collaborating with architect Rajat Sodi so that the program provides an experience that conveys a message about nature without being preachy. That’s all I can reveal for now.
In terms of the music, choreography and overall staging of the show, what can you expect?
I can’t reveal much at this time, but you can expect an intersection of art, design, and nature, as has been the case with our previous shows. We never do anything in our runway shows for the sake of it, there’s always a reason, there’s always a message. Sometimes it’s subtle and sometimes it’s not so subtle.
His latest showcase at KNMA saw many artists walking around. Are you planning to launch new models on the catwalk from other fields besides Bollywood and fashion?
That is surely the idea, we want to bring together people from different walks of life. I think the magic happens when people from different fields collaborate.
This season at Paris Haute Couture Week, many brands focused on embracing quiet luxury. What is your take on the silent luxury trend?
My design philosophy has always been about making my product the hero. I hope quiet luxury isn’t just a trend. It teaches people to look beyond brands and labels and makes them appreciate quality, craftsmanship and good design.
Inclusion in fashion is more like tokenism. Do you agree? How can fashion brands become truly inclusive?
I feel like inclusion has become another abused word like sustainability. Real inclusion is about being open to hiring people from marginalized sectors, creating workspaces and opportunities that are inclusive for them. Having said that, it’s always good to see diversity brought to the ramp. But what we do after that is also just as important.