Curato, Mumbai's first-ever multi-designer menswear store, has created a special place in the men's luxury retail space. After a successful run in Khar (since its inception in 2018), this curated menswear platform, founded by Tanisha Rahimtoola Agarwal, embarks on a new journey with its second flagship store in Kala Ghoda, Fort.
Enabling easy access to curated luxe menswear (stocking labels like Antar Agni, Jayanti Reddy, Rimzim Dadu, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Payal Singhal, SVA, Masaba and Raghvendra Rathore among) has been Curato's key mantra. In an interview, the founder talks about her key learnings and menswear getting increasingly trendless. Edited excerpts:
Also read: A fashion forecast for 2023
What made you pick Kala Ghoda?
While we were all set to grow into our second retail location, covid delayed our plans. Through the course of 2022, we’ve all seen retail sales bounce back to record highs and fashion has been among the top five industries that have seen major growth this past year. Our location in Khar was strategically located to cater to an upmarket area of the suburbs. Now, as we look at expanding, Kala Khoda has been a hub for some of the biggest men’s fashion designers and buyers, and so it was a no-brainer for us to be there.
The revenue, of course, encouraged me in this journey. There’s an increasing appetite in men to see more options and shop more. These two stores are different in principle: one is located in a quaint neighbourhood in Khar and the other is in a buzzing street in Kala Ghoda and they cater to different markets. This way I'm covering the opposite zones and all the medley in between.
How do you handpick and curate menswear for your stores?
When I started Curato, there was a huge motivation to build a successful business, but an equally high drive to help give young designers a platform to exhibit and generate revenue for their designs. I believe this has been the success behind Curato’s story so far: a lot of edgy, fun designs from designers all over the country wanting to express themselves, and buyers finding an experience and curation that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the country. We also carefully blend this with some of the most well-established designers in the country.
It’s a carefully curated selection that inculcates both comfort and style, classic and edgy. Basically, I ensure I have something that appeals to everyone who walks through our doors.
What will be the luxury menswear focus in 2023?
Luxury, to me, means comfort, and it's up to you how you define it for yourself. It's time we moved beyond trends. I reckon 2023 is going to be trend-less. It’ll be more of people showcasing their personalities through their sense of style. In other words, “a pure celebration of personalities”. We don’t believe you can categorise the luxury menswear for 2023 into a box. Staying true to our ideology, the choice will be the consumers. They are the ones that will define what luxury means to them. Wear lilac, or metals, colour pops or florals, the luxury we provide is choice.
Do you see Indian men warming up to edgy experimental dressing we spot on global styling blogs or that’s just a niche segment?
Indian men are definitely pushing the boundaries of what was once considered ideal menswear. With the influence of global cultures, we’ve definitely seen an increase in demand for more eclectic styles. Everyone wants to be different, and that alone is easier to do with a more experimental vibe. One of the biggest areas of growth in men’s fashion in India has certainly been streetwear. While a lot of it began with inspiration from the West, I think young Indian designers have really taken this opportunity to build streetwear as an integral part of their collection for men. As a founder, I’m constantly on the lookout for designers, who are willing to push the envelope and are working towards what’s next as opposed to what worked last season
Who’s the new Indian groom? What is he looking for?
The new Indian groom is a lot more aware of himself, what works for him in terms of styles and has a very clear sense of what he wants. In the past few years, men have really embraced fashion and have moved away from basic to experimental. For a long time, there was a basic standard of what a man would choose to wear for a specific occasion. But that’s completely different now. Earlier it used to be, “it’s all about the bride's outfit” but that is no longer the case. The modern Indian groom puts as much thought and effort into his look.
A lot of fashion today is gravitating towards gender-fluid styles as well…
Even though Curato is a multi-designer menswear store, we often see women buy clothes for themselves, especially oversized blazers, bomber jackets, asymmetrical kurtas. We have had quite a few gender-fluid designers in the store, such as Khanijo, Antar Agni, Arjun Saluja, No Grey Area and more. That being said, I don’t want to say we have a specific section as such. I believe fashion as a whole can be gender neutral. So anyone who walks through the door can buy anything from any part of the store if it resonates with them.
It’s more about freedom of choice and to wear what you are most comfortable in. Influencers on social media in India are also playing a key role in initiating a discourse around new fashion trends and representing gender-fluid brands. Androgyny has been the key runway story for the last couple of seasons. It absolutely can't be ignored. It will definitely be impacting the fashion trends of the future.
Any style faux pas you've noticed Indian men make and should avoid?
I feel like this is more of a personal opinion, but when it comes to menswear, the “more is more” style, where there’s an obvious lack of balance between eccentricity and class, needs to stop. If you have kept one statement piece in your overall attire, let that piece stand out. Your style is meant to be an extension of you. Don't wear chunky bling sneakers with an embellished jacket; keep the look balanced. If a person isn't comfortable in what they're wearing, it's going to show.
Any key menswear and accessories trends you see emerging in 2023?
Statement belts/belt bags, men’s jewellery (mainly pearl chains/hand accessories), and 1970s inspired prints, accessories and silhouettes.
Also read: Style trends we don’t want to see in 2023