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Men, Up Your Ethnic Wear Game With Master Couturier Tarun Tahiliani

In an interview with Zee Zest, the ace fashion designer shares trends to watch out for, wedding-festive must-haves for men, and more.

Shraddha Varma

An award-winning Indian fashion designer and entrepreneur, known for his creative drapes, revolutionary style, passion for Indian craftsmanship and textile heritage, and flair for combining traditional aesthetics with modern design, Tarun Tahiliani has been an integral part of India’s fashion story.

It has been over 25 years now, and there’s no stopping this design mastermind. He is constantly looking for inspiration, adapting himself to the latest trends, and taking on new projects to celebrate style and fashion in all its glory.

In December 2021, he collaborated with one of India’s leading fashion companies, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited (ABFRL), to start a men’s premium ethnic wear label. It marked Tarun’s foray into the ready-to-wear retail space and that too, at modest prices. They launched their first-ever store in Bengaluru that year and later expanded to Delhi, Hyderabad, and Indore.  

In August 2022, Tasva got a new address in Mumbai. Tarun and ABFRL’s young brand opened the doors to its flagship boutique in Mumbai and it was welcomed amid much fanfare. Launched just in time for the festive and wedding season, it is a 4000-square-feet store located on SV Road, Santacruz. On offer are wide ranges of kurta sets, sherwanis, achkans, bundi sets, and suits. The Tasva Mumbai store also stocks an impressive range of accessories for men – from safas and pocket squares, to the sehra, stole, shawl, brooch, neck piece, and footwear. 

In an interview with Zee Zest, the ace fashion designer spoke about his foray into the ready-to-wear segment, the store launch in Mumbai, revealed ethnic menswear trends to watch out for, his favourite pieces from Tasva, and shared his thoughts on reusing and repurposing clothing.

1. What motivated you to go the prêt-à-porter way? Did you feel like you were losing out on a market?

I have always loved ready-to-wear, in fact even though I have signed up with professor Bodea, who worked for Christian Dior and designed amazing evening wear, I finally ended up doing sportswear as a specialisation in college. That’s because I have always been an admirer of Italian wear of chic clothes that are timeless. This is my chance now to experiment and provide this to India on a large scale. This is exactly where all my learnings are taking me towards. 

2. How would you define the ‘Tasva’ man?

The Tasva man is somebody who wants to be the best version of himself - increasingly a global trend of self-expression but as is always the case with Tarun Tahiliani, in an understated, refined and sustainable way.

3. What is the USP of Tasva and what does the store have to offer?

It’s not fashion, it’s beyond fashion. It’s the stylists' style. Indian style with elegant tailoring and fits - this is precisely the USP.

The store has everything to offer from a simple kurta shirt to standalone kurtas to different kinds of bottoms and all the categories that Indian men would wear to functions that are celebratory, traditional or very symbolic within India.

4. What are your top five favourite pieces from the store?

My five top favourite pieces from the store are - the pure khadi sherwani, which I find exquisite; the draped cotton slit kurtas, the textured kurtas from the premium range; the linen bandhgalas and, of course, the classic cream-and-gold sherwanis. All of these, for me, are must-haves because they are timeless and will carry a man’s wardrobe for decades. 

5. What are the trends in men's ethnic wear space that one must watch for?

I think the biggest trend in ethnic menswear is that it is now an Indian sensibility but with the expectation of the western cut, fit, comfort and tailoring. Often I hear men say - "Oh my god, did you know Indian clothes could be so comfortable" and I think that’s a huge insult to what we do and a tragedy of poor tailoring and shoddy workmanship.

Indian clothes are the most comfortable because of the fabrics designed for our climate, the use of colour that uplifts skin and, of course, textures and traditions that are unique to us as a society. 

6. Any tips for Indian men who want to wear jewellery?

It is not mandatory for Indian men to wear jewellery, but I think earrings often look very nice. I think if you put on a comfortable pair of earrings and brooches you can dress your outfit. It's in our culture, which is more maximalist. Anything is fine as long as the person wearing it can carry it.   

7. The conversation about reusing and repurposing clothes continues. What are your top tips for wearing ethnic wear for a modern-day/contemporary event?  

The conversation of reusing and repurposing clothes never left us in India, we’ll not become the first world country which encourages trendy, seasonal fashion and therefore, demands that so much fast fashion be dumped further in trend. It's not in our culture. We have worn things for centuries and value our textiles and workmanship that we bring to the. Why should we be so shallow as to abandon this philosophy as a way of life?

So, my tips are that you can wear anything in India to any sort of event, I personally love kurta - both, short and long. I love the Jodhpur churidars and I think bundis are fantastic. I have long stopped wearing ties and full jackets. You will not catch me dead in a bow tie, because I feel it’s something that is very well suited to Donald Duck.  

8. Your signature colours have always been golds and pastels. What is it about these tones that have kept you dedicated to them?

My signature colours have been pastels and a bit of dull gold, yes. I think that these work very beautifully on Indian skin and the embroideries are nicer on subtle colours because let’s remember we live in an urban dillio and not an immaterial court. We live in kind of a sensory overload so it’s just that. I personally keep things a little toned down and subtle. 

9. Lastly, what’s next on your plate?

What’s next on my plate is to get Tasva established at a certain level and, of course, to take Tarun Tahiliani luxury to a greater level. Then we will look at doing Tasva women - we can’t leave them behind.
 

Photo: Tasva
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