Menswear needs to cash in on retail boom: Varun Bahl

Designer has recently joined hands with film-maker Karan Johar.

Ians January 30, 2013
Varun and Karan’s line is an assortment of casual shirts in white, grey, navy blue and black. PHOTO: FILE


The menswear segment in India needs urgent attention and the best way to reach out to a larger market is to cash in on the online retail boom, says fashion designer Varun Bahl, who crafts clothes for both genders.

“I think menswear needs a lot of attention in India and a lot of designers are doing it. One can see tremendous change in the menswear market and it is much more different from what we used to see earlier,” Bahl told IANS in an interview.

His own menswear range, the label Karan Johar+Varun Bahl, a joint brainchild of the designer and Bollywood film-maker Karan Johar, has recently gone online at designer Pernia Qureshi’s pop up shop, an ecommerce venture.

The line is an assortment of casual shirts in white, grey, navy blue and black.

Discussing the new venture, Bahl says the decision to take the label to the online space was prompted by a specific reason.

“It is our attempt to bring elegance and variety to the menswear market. Indian men experiment to a very small extent and thus, we have tried to showcase the classic pieces with a little bit of twist to make it more contemporary,” he added. “Online retail is the best way to reach out to the whole world; so we are trying to use the medium as much as possible and it has been showing great results till now.”

The partnership between two major stalwarts — Bahl and KJo, as the film-maker is fondly called — happened almost six years ago when Bahl had first designed for the film-maker.

As a team, do they face any creative differences?

“When you work with someone, obviously there are times when you get into creative differences. That is a part and parcel of life. Two people partnering and doing a collection together means there will be slight creative differences,” he said. “However, in the end, you do come to the conclusion that the best options come out of those creative differences.”

The designer, a National Institute of Fashion Technology graduate, launched his standalone label, Varun Bahl in 2001. And there has been no looking back since.

Known for his innovative use of exclusive fabrics and colours in his menswear and womenswear designs, he has successfully showcased his collection at fashion events in Paris and Milan.

“My definition of fashion is luxury and, for me, luxury is happiness. Bohemian-minded, in control, mature and experimental, that’s how I see my individual buyer,” said the designer, who is a regular at Indian fashion extravaganzas.

In India, his creations have been spotted on several celebrities, including the very graceful Madhuri Dixit. And while several designers have showcased their skills in films, it is a big no for Bahl right now.

“I don’t design specifically for movies, but you can see my clothes in the movies. I don’t have anything of that sort [styling for movies] in my mind as of now. So for the moment, styling for Bollywood movies is a no,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2013.

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