The Good Life

A cut above the rest

With Indian men turning fashion-conscious with time, exquisite international luxury menswear brands see a reason to get up, close and personal

If you thought fashion was a female indulgence, you need a reality check. We’re living in a time when men are just as subject to the sort of scrutiny that the fashion police earlier reserved only for their female counterparts. Gone are the days of the plain grey safari suits and the drab black or blue suits for men. There is more colour, more pizzazz and more choice for our male population with the international luxury brands specialising in menswear making inroads into the previously limited wardrobes of the wealthy. 

It is Ermenegildo Zegna, an Italian brand that opened its first store in India at Crossroads Mall, Mumbai in 1999. The first Zegna flagship store opened in 2007 at the Taj Mahal Palace in the city and now, they have five stores across Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad. A brand spokesperson says: “The Ermenegildo Zegna tailored style is contemporary and elegant, cut from the finest quality fabrics for a stylish and masculine formal or leisure wardrobe. Sartorial suiting is the ideal solution for anyone who seeks contemporary masculinity and timeless sophistication.”

Their suits cost anywhere between ₹180,000 and ₹218,000. They also include a customisation process for Italian tailored ready-to-wear and also the  made-to-measure clothing, which is 15-20% higher than the usual cost of suits. Corneliani is another Italian brand in India since 2012 under OSL Luxury Collections. With three stores in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, they are planning to expand across Delhi and Mumbai.

Salesh Grover, business head of Corneliani, says: “Corneliani is known for its formal wear, specially suits, but we have seen increase in casual wear in the recent past. Nowadays elegant menswear is following two separate paths as never before. On one hand there are the traditional rules of dressing well which are suits — the unshakable foundations of Corneliani style — while on the other we are seeing new influences and ideas; a free, dynamic, contemporary form of elegance which increasingly features crease and stain-resistant materials and details, both practical as well as attractive.” Their suits cost anywhere upwards of ₹1 lakh.

The latest entrant in India is luxury brand Stefano Ricci with one of its store at the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai. They now plan to expand to cities as the demand grows, with Delhi being their main target. Specialising in leather-based products, they have their own tanneries sending in their produce from Australia. Says Jackie Manglani, president, Stefano Ricci India: “We have the most unique pleated ties and leather goods for men that works with more colours and designs than any other brand in the same market. We also have belts that fly off the shelves almost as soon as they come in. Every year, we see new millionaires being made and that is our target market. Our brand caters to the established, self-made man.”

It is no news to these brands that the market for luxury menswear is nascent in India. Their hopes remain pinned on the expected progress of the country, the increasing awareness and need to fit in with the crème de la crème. Manglani says, “People are getting more brand and fashion conscious. But, we are getting there slowly. With a little bit more knowledge and travel, men will start to groom themselves better.”

While that is the case, there is also a need for the right premises to house these brands. “I am sure India will become a serious luxury market in the future. There is a need for more retail luxury infrastructure. If you notice, there are two luxury malls — one in Delhi and the other in Mumbai. I wish there were more such centres, such as the ones you see in America and China. But, there is a tradition of luxury in India so there is no reason why it should not flourish as it has in other countries,” mentions Gildo Zegna, CEO, Ermenegildo Zegna in an earlier interview.

They realise that adapting is not only required to introduce Indian men to a host of enviable wardrobes, but also a hint of desi touch to their offering. Says Grover, “Over the past years, I have seen India’s menswear market grow. Many brands have taken inspiration from our rich culture and had launched India specific products to cater to this growing section. Similarly, Corneliani has launched new court jackets which are currently being sold at Cornelaini boutiques in India.”

As the moolah is raked in and the millionaires grow by the hour, here’s hoping some of it goes straight to their wardrobe. After all, men should have some fun too.