August 29, 2021 Asmita Aggarwal

The Codebreaker

In many ways Kunal Rawal is a trend setter, whether it is his Morse code inspired new logo or his choosing the middle path, he never lets down the now super savvy groom

By Asmita Aggarwal

For the last 15 years Kunal Rawal has been a keen observer of the fashion space and believes things are moving in the right direction, especially menswear, his forte.

A lot goes into changing the mindset from the groom’s family picking up the outfit to now getting a sea of options to choose from—colours, cuts, fabrics, textures and patterns and checking how it actually looks, before making a final choice.

“Mumbai meri jaan” has always been kind of a silent anthem for Kunal, who may be doing a line that, let’s say for example, is inspired by Mexico’s street art, but it will always have an element of the Maximum City. The lack of space, the close proximity to so many people and meeting a diverse set giving you an interesting perspective has been his label’s mainstay.

“Whenever we design, the voice of the label is of utmost importance, who will wear it? What is the lifestyle of the person involved and what occasion is he dressing for?” says Kunal.

Like everybody who starts a business, Kunal too made his mistakes and learnt from them, from making super luxe lines, some were not in the realm of weddings and frankly the overriding thought was always surprisingly “anti-business” which he quickly grew out of.

“My motto is that men should have ‘many’ options to select from and in every line that we have done till today this has been the underlying idea. Plus, one garment should be worn in six different ways, thus we offer intricately detailed pieces that can be repeated for multiple occasions in this instagram-obsessed world,” he explains.

All the hems are planned in such a way that it can be matched to a collection that was done three seasons ago ensuring longevity and continuity of the garment you buy from his brand. As he moves towards micro motifs, textured playfulness and layering to add depth, the post-pandemic world has taught him many valuable lessons. All the processes involved are slower and the hand embroideries are painstakingly executed with 90 per cent of the fabrics made in house controlling the final look and feel.

“The most important aspect is reuse-ability in today’s world, that’s where personalisation becomes key,” he adds. That’s why the recent mega star studded wedding of Karan Boolani with Rhea Kapoor saw their dates embroidered in their wedding outfits designed by Kunal. A lesson he learnt at LCF was always to make wearable couture, so he prefers to play with panels in sherwanis, cuts and patterns as well as giving the groom the freedom to repurpose his wedding outfit free of cost, make something new or something old, using deconstruction.

“I observed guys coming to shop at my store, when they were buying Western wear they had many opinions, but with Indian clothes they didn’t show much interest. I realised there was a gaping hole in the market that I hoped to fill the gap between maximalist clothing and minimalistic offerings, you can say I chose the middle path,” he adds.

What makes Kunal understand the market better is he is catering to an age group which he belongs to, so he knows their tastes and flavours, plus him being an obsessive shopper always helps make the mix delectable. “I don’t believe in capsule collections, I am showing almost 60 pieces in this line, variety is what really matters,” he says. Each aspect is well taken care of, like the bride gets pockets in her lehenga for her smartphone, the groom gets a pattern that’s broken at the shoulders so that he can dance too without having to unbutton his sherwani!

The mood for the ICW 2021 line was boys and their friendships, as he launched his new logo inspired by the Morse code. “I love the language of codes and the secrecy they offer, visible yet invisible,” he adds.

This is what makes Kunal’s offerings special, his customers being able to understand and appreciate the details, and making each piece a conversation starter. That’s why he had the lovely Sonam Kapoor dressed in dhoti pants and his androgynous sherwani!



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