Although politically most countries are heading towards a polarised world, the global fashion community has chosen to go against the motion and is voicing its support for all-things-inclusive. The gender lines have already started blurring in terms of beauty, clothing, makeup, and wellness domains, but are Indian men ready to accept gender neutrality in its full glory?
In a recent social media campaign by designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, the ad shoot photos of a man and a woman dressed in similar gold sequined slip dresses and red heels went viral on Instagram. While a section of users trashed the concept and called it “pathetic, stupid and offensive” in the comments, a lot many were impressed to see the “bold, non-conformist and creative” approach for androgynous fashion. Popularity aside, from the business and practicality aspect the bigger question remains — are Indian men ready to don dresses and heels in public?
With gender-neutral and unisex clothing market gaining steam across the globe, the Indian menswear market has also opened up to accommodate certain trends that were once considered feminine. Right from colours to fabrics and cuts, Indian men are curious to try out new designs and common styles as their partners. According to menswear designer Mohit Sewani, “There is an upward trend of both the bride and the groom wearing the same colour. I recently, designed a sherwani for the groom using the same fabric, colours, and details that were used in the bride’s lehenga choli. There are men and women, who are interested in trying out matching outfits but there is a long way for Indian men to be seen in a dress and heels in public.”
Gender-neutral outfits and makeup are not a new concept for Indian communities. With trends like oversize and androgyny in mainstream fashion, many actors and pop singers have been seen wearing dramatic outfits and makeup to catch eyeballs. Delhi-based designer Akassh K Aggarwal informs, “Indian men and social media influencers are pushing the boundaries with various looks and artistic styles.”
“Sadly, we are still fighting homophobia and deep misogyny is still prevalent, which stops men from experimenting with extreme ideas. If we talk about actors like Ranveer Singh and Ayushmann Khurrana, they carried some bold looks in public and brought trends like bling, neon, and gender-fluid cuts in fashion for men. It shouldn’t be a surprise if we soon start seeing heels, skirts, and dresses as part of men’s wardrobe, but to reach the larger audience it will take a lot of time,” says Akassh.
Clothing has always had parameters or guidelines set by society, but what we must understand is, it’s a personal choice. There was once a time where women were not allowed to wear pants or denim, and it was only considered suitable for men to wear. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way since, and now women are rocking the denim, points out Shaan Shah, COO of Freakins. He says, “As someone up close and personal with the fashion industry, I absolutely love and concur with the fact that every individual has their style, preference, and edge. The constant presence of creativity and individuality is what makes this industry unique. One must always wear what they like and be what they want, for that is what makes them happy. In the recent gender-neutral fashion, we have seen men elegantly carrying dresses and heels and just being their confident selves. It’s great to see the Indian fashion industry mold to changing times and continue to inspire people to wear fashion as an expression.”