Whenever fashion is thought about, the first image that one gets is of a female and not male. It certainly does not imply that men’s fashion is non-existent but it is somehow understated, one might say.
Gaurav Khanijo’s first design inspiration came from his immigrant grandfather who would always adorn custom-made clothes. His fashion label ‘Khanijo’ is an ode to a time when personal style reflected craftsmanship and culture. He believes in taking artisanal traditions forward and creating contemporary clothing rooted in diverse cultures. He creates fabrics filled with an abundance of colors and textures using indigenous weaves and hand-woven techniques. “True aesthetic transcends the exterior; it is an expression of one’s identity, one’s beliefs, and one’s purpose. That is how I define good design. It’s not just about a unique ‘look’. It’s in creating harmony with the environment. It’s in fabrics that breathe and move with the skin,” he says.
His design aesthetic could be called part vintage, part classic, part modern. It complements the lifestyle of a neo indigenous man, focusing on mobility and functionality along with easy layering. Thinking about understated menswear in modern settings, he constructed with simple (but archival) bespoke techniques.
He recalls, the biggest challenge he faced was to convince his family that he wanted to design clothes adding, “Even though they were in fabric business it was hard for my extended joint family to accept my choice of career. But I’m stubborn for my goals, my mother was supportive and I managed pretty well.”
On the issue, whether men’s fashion understated or not, he says that it most certainly is, explaining the reason, “Men don’t follow trends consciously and fashion is not about standing out in the crowd, that’s style! It’s two different things and men are rather focused on their personal style than following trends.” The current trends in men’s fashion, he points out are, “For the ones who don’t have a striped suit must invest in pinstripes, you can either go for classics or then experiment with your colour or width of your stripes.” He later follows up by saying, “Earthy tones, beiges, browns with dirty pastels is what suits every skin type and must-haves in summer.”
Pastels and bespoke are in nowadays and it can be incorporated in day to day menswear, he says that one can use pastels for shirts, suits, shorts anything. Bespoke is always in, it’s simply getting your clothes customized in your measurements, nothing can fit better than that.
On being asked to define men’s fashion from his own experience, he says that fashion is an overrated word now. “The best thing is to keep trying new things and see what suits you the best, then work around it. I heard this a lot that you can’t do much in men’s fashion and I also started thinking that, but then I said to myself why not”, he says. He then adds that there is a limited canvas for non-experimental men and that makes it even more challenging. men’s fashion is more timeless.
When asked about his thoughts about fusion in the fashion industry, he replied that he hated the term “Indo-Western Fusion”. “Clothes are just clothes, there are an influence and history. We are now beyond fusion”, he says.