There was a sense of anticipation before Manish Bansal’s show at Lakme Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2015. It wasn’t only me but also people around me, curious to see how the emerging menswear would add a personal and creative twist to contemporary menswear. If the collection’s name — British Bulldog — was anything to go by, we were in for a surprise and hopefully, a good collection.
As things panned out, the dapper models walked the ramp clad in Manish Bansal’s models sported casual knit pullovers, semi-formal jackets, calf-length coats and ankle-length trousers with a few deliciously British touches — Union Jacks printed at the hem, faux fur and the generous use of checks — which characterised the collection. The British identity was seen right down to the fabrics of felt, wool, cotton viscose and jersey, which resulted in a visually appealing collection.
As you would expect, the bulldog print was indeed the leitmotif of the collection visible on garments and accessories throughout.
Following the collection, I had the pleasure of meeting Manish Bansal, whose eager and pleasing demeanour made the conversation flow effortlessly. I got him to talk to us about his collection, menswear trends, what inspires him and how he adds a creative twist to menswear. Here’s what he had to say.
“It’s feels great to be at Lakme Fashion Week, especially as an emerging designer. This time, however, there is a lot more direction in terms of where I am going, as this is my second season at Lakme.”
After having studied in London, Bansal started working as an assistant designer and worked up to senior designer and sales manager. Following this, he worked as a freelance stylist and assistant photographer, and then came a masters degree, which inspired him to launch his own label. “I launched the label back in 2012 in London. I noticed that most of my customers were coming from the east and far east, so I thought it would be a good idea to explore the Indian market.
I asked Manish about his clearcut choice for menswear?
“It was always menswear from the start. It was an easy choice as I find menswear more challenging. It is a jacket, a shirt and trousers that you have to work with, unlike womenswear, where you can experiment with just about anything.”
As I always like to get to the bottom of collection inspirations and themes, I questioned the designer on his choice of the bulldog as the central theme of his collection.
“The collection spins its philosophy around the bulldog and the Union Jack. It is quintessentially British. In the late ’70s, the bulldog was used for racist propaganda. This led to a music revolution where white and black people came together, black people brought the reggae while the whites brought the rock. This revolution was all about integration. I am taking that idea and using it create something good. I am integrating different techniques like felting and embroidery. I am redefining this propaganda symbol as a more, colourful, integrated symbol.”
From what I saw of the collection, I pointed out to Manish that there was a nice blend of casual, sportswear and tailored cuts. “You will always see a tailored shape in my collection, mixed with sportswear. I like to use surface ornamentation on tailored surfaces and pieces. So you will see sweatshirts, cuffed trousers and the works.” Felting and embroidery is another aspect that was visible in the collection.
In all honesty, I did highlight to Bansal that the collection does risk coming across as ‘too British’ and some of the fabrics used might run the risk of being termed irrelevant in Indian climate. The designer acknowledged this and promises a change for the upcoming collection. “I think I need to get out of my British zone and think about Indian fabrics a bit more. I have already thought about alternatives for the felt, etc. So the next time I have a collection, it will certainly be more tuned for the Indian market. I am also thinking of doing a few unisex pieces, but my aesthetics will stay the same.”
Manish Bansal Picks His Two Favourite Menswear Trends This Season
“The long shirt is quite trendy at the moment. I have done a few long shirts myself and I think it is a beautiful piece to wear, because you can wear it in an Ind0-Western format, or you could just wear it with jeans. It is even suited for Mumbai weather. It is a modern take on the kurta, if you will. Also, brogues. I am experimenting a lot with brogues and even combining them with embroidery. These are the two key trends, for me.”
Check out www.manishbansal.co.uk
His latest collection is also available at: Second Floor Studio, 417 Shahpur Jat (Near Dada Jungi House) New Delhi, India.