Manoviraj Khosla strongly believes that the Indian fashion industry is on its way to becoming better and stronger. The designer is a name to be reckoned with as he moved from strength to strength, setting up the Manoviraj Khosla Studio in 1990 and tying up with the UB group in 1995 to launch his second label, The Kingfisher Line. Having kick-started his career with men's wear, the designer is back to his first love... As he unveils his latest collectionat the Van Heusen's India Men's Week 2010, he talks about his passion for all things fashion.
Tell us a little about the collection you unveiled at the Van Huesen's Men's Week 2010.
It's called Sunshine in the Dark and, like the name suggests, it's bright and colourful. There are a lot of colours mixed with essential blacks and whites. I've used kalamkari prints of Andhra Pradesh on the jackets, teamed up linen and denim and layering with sheer fabric to make sure that the designs underneath show. The silhouettes are narrow; the jackets are both zipped up as well as buttoned down with hints of pleating and puckering. Surface texturisation, flock printing as well as metal detailing on the clothes all combine to make this collection what it is. Whether you are going to a bar or a formal lunch, the collection has something for each occasion. It's for the man who likes to dress up and go out. It's 100 per cent wearable.
How do you adapt your style to the changing trends?
If you really think about it, the trends haven't changed drastically as far as men's fashion is concerned. Of course, lengths alter, silhouettes change, shapes of jackets and lapels change, but a jacket's a jacket and a trouser's a trouser. Working with these basic shapes, one has to experiment with colours, play around with fabrics and textures to produce different things without going overboard. I think, to a certain degree, this applies to women's clothing as well.
You began with men's wear in 1990. How has the transition to women's wear and accessories been?
I can't deny that I definitely still enjoy designing for men more. It's my forte; it's what I do best. Of course it's a pleasure working with women's wear, there is a lot more freedom to experiment with shapes and types, but I really enjoy the challenge men's wear poses.
How do you think the fashion industry has grown and adapted as far as men's wear being considered serious fashion is concerned?
Oh, it is definitely getting better. More and more men are understanding and accepting fashion. Earlier they'd just put on a shirt and any old trousers or jeans and that would be the end of it. But now they actually take care to pick and choose. More men are wearing jackets, experimenting with other fabrics and textures. Men's fashion is high fashion too, and the industry is fast recognising the market for it.
You have a lot of experience working with corporate houses. Do you think these businesses should invest in fashion to accelerate the growth of the industry?
There is very real need for that to happen. There are already a number of corporate houses that invest in fashion but they are all focussing on bringing international labels to India. How many take an Indian label and make it international? With the right kind of money and effort, it can happen because we certainly have the talent and potential. A lot of office wear is designed by Indian labels, but when it comes to high fashion, the names are always international. That's where we lose out.
Your comments on the crop of new designers on the fashion scene?
I think it's brilliant that new and exciting talent is constantly surfacing. The old, established names will always be there but we need more experimentation, more passion. The new designers have this. They are ready to push the boundaries, try newer, more stimulating things. Some of them clearly have the spark to go far.
What about the trend of celebrities walking the ramp?
It's excellent for press coverage but horrible for the garment. The famous face brings the media, but the focus is on that face. The garment gets overshadowed. Sometimes it is a good idea, because of the glamour quotient it brings to the show.
You have used kalamkari prints on your designs. Do you think more such art forms need to be tapped by the fashion industry?
Of course. If these art forms can be taken and adapted to suit the garments, cottage industry can come in very handy to high fashion. I've used the kalamkari prints on the jackets in such a way that any man can put on that jacket and go for a formal occasion. It's all about adapting and, if it is done right, it can add a lot of value and character to the garment.
Where would you place the local Indian market for high fashion right now?
It is getting better, definitely. The last two years have seen a more accelerated growth than the last 10 years. The industry is getting bigger and better, and so is the market for it. There is room for improvement, but I am sure it'll only get better.
Any new projects in the pipeline?
I have a lot of corporate stuff coming up right now, designs for uniforms and such. Along with that, I'm always looking to experiment with newer styles and designs.