The Good Life

Coat of honour

Nehru jackets are being redesigned and deconstructed as bespoke luxury 

Popularised by chacha Nehru, the Nehru jackets are finding space in the wardrobes of millennials and politicos alike. While politicians such as Rahul Gandhi shifted to more modern-looking Burberry jackets, Modis and Tharoors of the world still swear by the older, more comfortable fashion. In fact, the Prime Minister's popularity has increased thanks to Modi jackets — a longer, colourful and modernised version of the black and white khadi suit. Designers and fashion houses too are revamping the trend, adding many a new cuts and fabrics to fit to the fancy of the new generation.

One such designer Raghavendra Rathore created a brand which has become synonymous with bandhgala (closed collar), introducing this jacket to global buyers. Rathore has recreated the Indian jacket for every possible occasion, from outdoor garden parties and safaris to formal evenings and festivities.

Rathore says, “ I tried to create a conventional bandhgala with impeccable hand crafting and a textured linear print that has made it look modern yet edgy.” Talking about his three best styles till date, he adds, “I have created a deconstructed bandhgala that is more like a weightless jacket and a wardrobe essential for travelling. Then, there is of course, the classic heritage bandhgala with its old world styling and structuring. The festive embellished jacket style is intricately handcrafted and accessorised with jewel buttons to give a rich appeal.”

He also has a dedicated ‘outdoor’ bandhgala which is half lined and very lightly structured for ease in movement. Each of these styles are made to order at his bespoke boutique and the prices vary based on the fabric, stitch and buttons used. While the readymade ones, available on his website, are priced between Rs.68,000 and Rs.127,999, the customised pieces are priced variedly.

Similarly, Tailorman has managed to earn a brand name for itself among customers such as actor Saif Ali Khan, tennis champion Rohan Bopanna and chef Manu Chandra. The bespoke brand, launched in 2013, sources its fabric from brands such as Ermenegildo Zegna and Scabal. Yasho Gupta, head of design, Tailorman, says, “We have a bunch of variations to customise Nehru Jackets. Customers can pick from the classic two button, a concealed placket or a multi button Nehru jacket for a more formal occasion. They can play around with different pockets, jacket linings and minimal details such as cord piping.The preferred fabric for Nehru jackets is linen. But customers have also started looking into wool checks and patterns to step away from the norm.”

Tailorman is also trying to bring the Indian weaving and thread-work back in vogue. Gupta adds, “The best ones we have are from our ethnic range.The indigo matka silk Nehru jacket has an art deco inspired hand embroidery. The black herringbone velvet Nehru jacket is so versatile that it can be worn with an ethnic or a western attire.” These pieces are priced between Rs.47,000 and Rs.80,000.

But Gupta points out that the craze didn’t really begin in India and that this style has been around globally. He says, “One cannot ignore the fact that before its popularity, 50 years ago, the fab four  The Beatles  wore the ‘bandh gale ka coat’ (close-collared coat) at their concerts piquing interest in the western world. Today we can see it in different fabrics other than the original khadi such as linen, cottons, silks and velvet, in vivid designs and patterns, embroideries giving new life to this fashion staple.”