Are you ready for the man skirt?

With Thom Browne dedicating his entire collection to the gender-bending essential, After Hrs explores if it has takers in India…

Man skirts are nothing new. Jean Paul Gautier in his 1984 collection entitled, ‘And God Created Man’ reinterpreted them. Riccardo Tisci (formerly at Givenchy) has been the longest proponent of the kilt. This season Thom Browne in his Spring Summer 2018 at Paris Fashion Week recontextualised them in an array of formats — midi, mini and pleated — teamed with work jackets.

In India, style-hooligan Ranveer Singh may have rocked one at the GQ party last week with his characteristic insouciance, but are Indian men ready to embrace it?

Acceptance and love

The concept of gender has altered drastically in the world today. The traditional and universally accepted ideas of gender are not just being challenged and dismantled, but they are almost being pushed aside to make for so many types of genders that are becoming part of our universal lexicon. Filmmaker Mozez Singh says, “Transgender, cisgender, agender, genderqueer, nonbinary and androdyne are some of the new genders jostling for space and they are winning. Fashion is first and foremost a reflection of our times and though androgynous fashion has been around for ages, it has always been accepted as a fringe and radical form of fashion. Not anymore. Alessandro Michelle at Gucci plays with female shapes forms and motifs in season after season for his men’s show, and these sell out and become such coveted items. And so he does them again and again, breaking new stereotypes with each show. You cannot get more mainstream and in your face than the House of Gucci.”

One can’t agree more as Alessandro Michele has been at the forefront of gender-fluid movement. “The fact that Thom Browne is doing skirts for men in different lengths is not surprising. He is tapping into the zeitgeist and it’s a fantastic thing. Skirts are comfortable. Why shouldn’t men experience that? They are also cool and that’s always a plus. Last but not the least, we belong to the land of the dhoti and the sari. There is most certainly a confluence between the two -— the Indians had woken up to this way before than the rest of the world! Ultimately, the idea for skirts for men is not about fashion or being avant-garde or simply hip. It’s about much bigger things like unity, tolerance, acceptance and love,” adds Mozez.

When Ranveer nailed it

Not many actors in India have been open to the idea of gender-bending aesthetic but there have been few exceptions like Ranveer Singh, who’ve embraced the trend with effortless ease.

Che Kurrien, Editor, GQ India recalls that the actor wore a Dsquared2 skirt to the GQ Awards in 2016 and pulled it off like a pro. “The goal post shifted that day, and what was once considered extreme fringe suddenly got mainstream play on the glitziest of platforms,” he says.

The likes of Kanye West, Jared Leto, Marc Jacobs have been rocking them for years now, however, in India they’re still to find takers.

Sandeep Gonsalves, co-founder SS Homme says, “Thom Browne’s versions of the man skirt were pretty edgy and designed for the office space. Contemporary men have a conscious sense of style and are experimental with various trends. The man skirt would definitely be accepted among men, who have a strong sense of personal style and confidence to carry off the garment.” Sandeep doesn’t see shorter versions of the man skirt being adopted easily as it will take some time for men to warm up to this trend.

How to style it

Designer Gaurav Khanijo, too, is in favour of the man skirt but he doesn’t like the short version. So how would he style it? “I’d layer it with another skirt and complete my look with boots. A skirt can be made a bit masculine and worn with sneakers or kolhapuris. However, it’s important to balance the entire look,” says Gaurav.

We’re getting there

Men’s fashion today is about adding one’s own personality rather than following a herd blindly. Designer Kunal Rawal observes, “Everyone is looking for that unique touch — there’s a big market for it globally but in India we are not ready. Here, people are skeptical to wear it to this level. But we’re getting there.”

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