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New style essentials for the new year

  • Lounge speaks to two experts for a low-down on the new essentials that are here to stay, as we enter a new decade
  • Sandeep Gonsalves of Sarah and Sandeep and Archana Walavalkar of StyleCracker recommend wearing natural fibres, accessorizing charmingly and incorporating Indian craftsmanship

Style essentials for 2020
Style essentials for 2020

Sandeep Gonsalves, director and co-founder, Sarah and Sandeep

Natural fibres, asymmetric silhouettes and smart (but tiny) accessories

The trends that return

Men are becoming more experimental about trying classic formal-wear styles in bolder, contrasting colours and patterns. They are open to trying different pins, be it on the tie, collar or lapel. In Indian formal wear, Gen Y and Z men are opting for simpler styles with experimental silhouettes over embellished pieces. The asymmetrical kurta and bandhgala will continue to be popular.

The keepers for 2020

Fabrics: People are shifting gradually from raw and dupion silk to wool for their Indian formal wear, especially worsted wool. Not many people wear worsted wool in Indian formal wear, but it looks and drapes well.

Silhouettes: A decade ago, the ultra-slim and tailored silhouette was common. Over the last few years, the anti-fit and relaxed silhouette came into play. Now, we are gradually returning to a slightly more tailored silhouette, like skinny vintage silk shirts and slim trousers.

Even though tailoring will always be an important aspect in formal menswear, for suits you could go for a more relaxed or deconstructed look, such as pairing it with T-shirts or sneakers. The more experimental men are opting for suits with shorts, depending on the weather.

Patterns and colours: Men might continue to opt for geometric patterns, which are easier to translate in abstract ways, rather than extremely bright floral options. The millennial pink trend will remain popular and is a great way to make a statement. It is no longer about being the most noticeable man in the room, but about the smaller details, such as tone-on-tone effects.

Accessories: Musician Kanye West’s brand Yeezy has been trying to formalize the sneaker, and the concept has gained popularity. For a sleeker look though, Chelsea boots also work well with suits, because their streamlined construction makes the legs look longer.

The next decade could see a lot of fashionable options for men, such as larger tote bags. There will also be bags that are utilitarian and functional.

Hand-painted patina leather (for shoes) became popular last year. It’s a slightly lengthy process but gives the leather dimension and depth.

The question of sustainability

Many clients ask me to make their clothes amenable to repurposing. At the same time, I have also been an advocate of the use of natural fibres like hemp. They feel good and fall well for menswear, without coming off as anti-fit. The texture of the fabric is coarse because of the fibre, but it’s quite breathable. Vegan leather is also a great alternative that’s becoming mainstream for accessories.

The idea of craftsmanship goes in tandem with that of sustainability, because people looking at one are usually also looking at the other. Indian crafts are now being incorporated into contemporary menswear. And consumers too want to know what they are buying and the story behind it.

Pushing the comfort zone

I would definitely suggest opting for bespoke clothes. It’s possible for a consultant, be it a tailor or designer, to understand your needs and incorporate your likes and dislikes into your outfit. It also helps to push your boundaries. And it’s possible for you to surprise yourself. It’s a little like therapy.

Archana Walavalkar, founder, stylecracker

Botanical prints, wild proportions and accessories in natural materials

The trends that return

Fashion has had a cyclical and circular progression, but now there aren’t any specific rules to it. It is so much more about being unique and wearing your personality on your sleeve.

This decade saw styles from the 1990s making a big splash, the pantsuit from the 1970s became a classic for every season, florals too were big in 2019, and every party season saw the disco and shimmery minis of the 1980s return.

The keepers for 2020

Fabrics: Natural, eco-friendly fibres are gaining momentum, especially because of the major environmental crisis we are in globally. In the industry, designers have been creating collections and lines focusing on natural fabrics, but unless customers change their minds, it will be difficult to make eco-friendly clothing more economically viable.

Silhouettes:Ruffles are becoming larger than life, from the necklines to the hemlines. Sleeves will make a huge statement this year, be it a dress or a shirt. The trend can cut across occasions: Choose between puffed, leg of mutton or bishop sleeves during the day, and more exaggerated, Victorian-like ones in the evening. The outfits are more feminine, but the accessories, such as chunky sneakers, are a contrast.

Patterns and colours: In prints, we usually have a handful of essential patterns such as stripes, polka dots, etc., that are given a fresh take every year. In the same way, florals will carry on in the new decade, especially since 2020 is welcoming big and bold prints for the new decade.

In terms of colours, the palette has gone quite muddy, like coffee, sage, rust and turmeric. And these shades go well with Indian skin. There are also neon shades and highlighter accents that add a zing of brightness.

Accessories: For shoes, the square-toed ones will be popular in 2020—they look flattering on almost all kinds of feet, broad or small. Even the absolutely tiny minaudière bags that were seen on the runways last year will be popular.

Shell jewellery, big gold chain links and medallions and pearls are some jewellery styles made from natural elements that are in demand.

The question of sustainability

It works in small steps, starting from taking care of what you already own. In this age of constant consumption, we need to let go of the concept of clothes being good for just one wear. Industry leaders are repeating their clothes. They are talking about ways to repurpose what you already have. As a stylist, I personally feel the need to show people how to reinvent the same garment in multiple ways. For example, a simple shirt can be worn in so many ways, such as a dress with the sleeves wrapped around the waist or the collars shrugged around your shoulders instead of your neck, but make sure it matches your personality. Reading up for awareness also becomes important, especially about synthetic fibres and their effect on our environment.

Designers such as Anavila, Ekaya, Rajesh Pratap Singh have been taking ethnic and traditional crafts and making them globally wearable and modern—though we have only just scratched the surface with Banarasi and Patola textiles, which have been famous for the last few years. There are so many more Indian crafts that haven’t been explored yet.

Pushing the comfort zone

The easiest way is to update your essentials. If you have been someone who plays it safe with the white shirt or trousers, it might help to move into the more lively basics, such as a ruffled dress or a shirt with exaggerated sleeves, gradually.

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