Purushu's award winning fashion blog was founded in 2009 while studying fashion design at NIFT New Delhi. At the age of 19, he wrote show reviews for FDCI's Designer Node dailies at India Fashion Week, New Delhi. Following a stint as menswear designer at Future Group (Lee Cooper), Mumbai in 2013, he relocated to Chennai where he continued freelancing and authored fashion columns for The Hindu newspaper. In 2017, Purush Arie blog evolved into India's first ungendered fashion label. Purushu spoke about gender neutral revolution through fashion at TEDxChennai in March 2018.

2019 – Are Indian Men Ready To Wear Gender Neutral Fashion?

Prior to 2015, you were more likely to hear about androgynous fashion than gender neutral fashion in India. Androgynous gender expression sits right in centre of a spectrum described as masculine and feminine on polar opposites. Androgynous clothing was largely pictured as cross dressing where women slipped into mens suits on ramps and men wore ladies sweaters to corporate Fridays. Unlike gender-binary notions of “unisex” or “androgyny”, fashion’s gender neutral revolution of 2015 challenged the very gender tags attached to a particular style. Gender neutrality looked beyond binary to recognise gender non-binary. However, are Indian men ready to wear gender neutral fashion?

 

GENDER NEUTRAL FASHION – TRENDING AMONG INDIAN MEN

When it comes to forecasting the fashion trends of India, the last decade has shown a clear pattern where Western trends take roughly up to a year to three – to be manufactured locally, and for the trends to trickle down in ramps. It may take more time for all that jazz to be marketed, and further trickle down to masses. In 2016, Ranveer Singh wore septum ring and pussy bow blouse on L’Officiel cover – most powerful gender fluid statement from a male celebrity in India yet.

By 2017, gender fluidity was buzzing hot on desi Instagram. By 2018, gender neutral statements were omnipresent on runways. And in that backdrop of events, I even got an opportunity to discuss my journey towards gender neutral fashion at TEDxChennai.

 

INDIAN MEN AREN’T READY TO WEAR DRESSES, NOT YET!

Bummer! Even among the women, not every Indian is comfortable in Western silhouettes like bifurcated jeggings or corset gowns. What works in homogeneous Western cultures need not necessarily work in heterogeneous Indian society. Gender neutrality is otherwise inherent in DNA of familiar mens styles like kurta pajama.

Pushkar Vaze (@thefashionpush)

“When it comes to traditional outfits, Indian men and women share kurtas, lungis and dhotis with ease. They are comfortable in bright, draped shawls, and they even wear embroidered mojaris. As a culture, we’re also used to seeing men wear pearls and jewels for weddings. Western men would normally shy away from even a brooch, forget a necklace.” – Wendell Rodricks

 

Indian subcontinent has a rich history of silhouettes, jewellery, grooming, and makeup that are largely gender neutral. Most draped silhouettes that Indians wore prior to colonial period were chiefly gender neutral in nature. Think dhoti pants, think cowl kurta – worn with headgears, brooch and statement accessories. Shantanu & Nikhil menswear. Wendell Rodricks lungis. TarunTahiliani drapes. Kallol Dutta, Antar Agni and Arjun Saluja are few other names that immediately pops in my head. India has a far richer gender neutral clothing history than Western world, and it’s very important on a cultural scale to build upon the indigenous elements of gender neutrality.

 

WHAT IF INDIAN FASHION TRENDS TRICKLE UP THAN JUST TRICKLE DOWN?

Designers who skip fashion history books and jump straight into trend books are more like those doctors who never attended medical school and yet, diagnose you Googling symptoms. The formula so far has been – wrap elitist cultural values with Western influences and you get what’s marketed as fashion in India. The design direction for Athleisure fiasco in Indian fashion was such that not only the silhouettes were directly borrowed from trend books of West but interpretations remained largely elitist too. Despite trending for more than half a decade, Indian version of athleisure or modest fashion often ignored the Real_MVP… The most popular leisurewear garments of the subcontinent – lungi & nighties! What if the mass costume culture trickles up to influence high fashion trends to question status quo? That direction takes you beyond the controlled imaginations of elitism. Will ruffled dresses become a societal normalcy for Indian men in 2019? No sure if we’re there yet, but an effective route to destruct gender constructs is to reconstruct the inherent gender neutrality of known silhouettes.

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16 Comments
  • Aamir Wisal
    Reply
    January 22, 2019

    Awesome blog I have ever seen.I daily visit your blog and everytime I surprised.Thanks for this Wonderful read.You shared great content.Keep up the good work.Thanks for sharing.

  • Tehreem
    Reply
    February 5, 2019

    Thanks for this Wonderful read.You shared great content.

  • kate
    Reply
    February 9, 2019

    Good Luck I always check you…

  • vicky
    Reply
    February 12, 2019

    Very Nice content in this post.
    Thanks

  • pankaj
    Reply
    March 21, 2019

    Hey,

    your blog post is amazing, I love your content and website. Keep up the good work. Looking forward for more such amazing work from your side.

  • Rahul Mehra
    Reply
    April 1, 2019

    Hey loved your work. This is a great content i have ever read. I am waiting for your more post on men’s fashion.

  • dev
    Reply
    April 12, 2019

    Thank you for sharing this gender-neutral fashion with us.

  • arsalan6370
    Reply
    April 26, 2019

    these kurtas and pajamas are very common for men and women , well nice post waiting for your more post keep it up

  • Roy
    Reply
    June 11, 2019

    Good Luck I always check you…

  • June 11, 2019

    This is something new I just read here. Gender neutral fashion shows Indian Culture.

    Thank you for sharing.
    My Fashion Villa

  • seema goyal
    Reply
    June 12, 2019

    This article is very nice and all about of fashion tread for men or women. fashion is most popular case now a days.
    It’s all about of culture different countries.
    Thank you for sharing with us.

  • Wo liegt Aruba
    Reply
    July 9, 2019

    Thanks for this Wonderful read.You shared great content.

  • Trapti
    Reply
    July 21, 2019

    Right, we Indians are not so much comfortable in Western silhouettes.

  • shristi patni
    Reply
    August 24, 2019

    your blog includes so much useful and informative content in such a beautiful manner.

  • August 29, 2019

    nice content with good informative knowledge

  • September 5, 2019

    !Nice discussion about an Indian fashion and gender-neutral.

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