With the influx of 90’s fashion, it is no surprise that Spring 2014 runways were swathed with androgynous looks where women’s fashion took a serious masculine turn. A men’s shirt has been borrowed and fashioned in various ways to fit the changing needs of the consumer and the trends. Designers have successfully altered a shirtdress and the newly introduced cropped shirt to seem more feminine additionally; detail elements like cuffs, collars and plackets have been attached to other silhouettes in the same vein. More and more exporters are catching on to the Fall 2014 runway trend of using a shirt as outerwear, and many have already caught the trend for spring, producing shirt inspired dresses…
Out of all the various interpretations of the men’s shirt, the most sought-after of these is the shirtdress. The popularity of this silhouette has further given birth to several contemporary trends. The loose, languid form has been reshaped and moulded into a feminized version by cinching the waist via drawstring or belt which was exercised by the likes of Nina Ricci and Victoria Beckham and creating ruffles which were a favourite at Tod’s. Designers incorporated more intriguing details in their versions, than the typical, by including cutouts at the shoulders like Christian Dior did and adding front slits which were present in Vionnet’s pastel collection of long shirtdresses. Indian exporters too are inspired. “We are doing a lot of shirtdresses and tunic styles for our spring collection in cotton and cambric. Geometric prints, patchwork, mix-and-match and using two-three different prints in one garment is what is getting picked up by our buyers,” shares Pankaj Sanon, Manager, A.P. Handicrafts. He seemed satisfied with the category and its growing demand in the market, showing a desire to explore it further.
Moving on from the shirtdress and touted as summer’s freshest trend – the crop top, wasn’t left inhibited from the shirt rage. While some, like the bandeau and bralets, were instantly familiar pieces on the runway, others, like the cropped shirt, were entirely new to the eye. When an inevitable and welcomed evolution of the crop top trend has been merged with a shirt which is an instant classic, the final product undoubtedly ends up lending itself to both feminine and masculine interpretations. Aanchal Ahuja, Director, Ahuja Textile Traders carries out this combination by merging collars and double pockets with heavy embroidery work on their cropped shirts. “We are making the product more feminine by using animal prints and shades like peach, lilac and orange which are apt for the summer,” informs Aanchal. Alexander Wang and No. 21 were two designers who tapped into this trend by using crisp white shirts in cotton to portray their modern age laidback looks. Nandini Pal, Designer, Bershka Inditex agrees, “The clientele that we cater to is very young, teenagers mostly, so we definitely are on board with the cropped shirt trend – not very dressy instead loose and casual.”
While designers moved on from the shirtdress and the cropped version of a men’s shirt as a main product at the Autumn/Winter ’14 runways, they meekly borrowed the detail elements such as, cuffs, placket, collar and yoke and used them on other silhouettes. Stella McCartney, Roland Mouret and Alexander Wang are among a few who experimented on these lines. Whereas, there are still only a few exporters who have shifted their focus from the construction to the fabric and pattern, Pushpa Shahi, Senior Merchandiser, Creatnet Services throws light on their collection, which is in line with the trend, “Fabrics such as cotton, cambric, poplin and viscose modal are present in our womenswear pieces this time and we are also playing with typical men’s patterns like plaid and pinstripes.” There is an increased use of oxford, mélange, broadcloth and dobby too, agrees Karthik Gupta, Partner, Aadi International sharing that they are also working with cotton poplin, Egyptian cotton and stripes for the coming season.
The A/W’14 runways showed a clear departure from casualwear and instead ventured into the realms of outerwear. Needless to say, the collections were less obvious as they did not only toy around with the length of the garment but transgressed to the unthinkable. While Hugo Boss and Rochas used the turned down collar on straight coat dresses, Louis Vuitton attached a forward pointing collar with a zip running down its gleaming A-line version. Then there were designers who used all three elements – collar, placket and double front flap pockets – on a belted midi length coatdress in 3.1 Phillip Lim’s case and a metallic short coatdress in Saint Laurent’s. While speaking to exporters on whether this trend has caught on to a wider audience, the response was mixed but the idea appealed to all and many were interested in trying it out. “We are definitely considering shirt and coat hybrids since I can see traces of it on the runways. But one silhouette we’re already working on for the upcoming winter is the overshirt which can be worn over something; say a tank top or a crop top,” avers Nandini.
Out of all these exporters, Creatnet Services was the only one who have already caught on to the trend and confirmed the usage of shirt collars on their jackets and coats. Sooner than later, the paradigm shift of a shirt to outerwear silhouettes will inspire more people to experiment and follow it. As long as the general perception towards the idea is a positive one, this runway trend is going to translate well for mass fashion too.