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Kunal Rawal on experimenting with brocades for the Ekaya Banaras collaboration

Designer Kunal Rawal on getting out of his comfort zone and experimenting with florals and brocade textiles for his collaboration with Ekaya Banaras.

Mens clothing is often compartmentalised into neat (black-or-blue) boxes. Seldom opening up to colour, fabrics or silhouettes, but when done correctly the result can be standout. Case in point, the collaboration between contemporary handloom label, Ekaya Banaras and menswear designer and couturier Kunal Rawal. The idea behind this unique partnership is to create a new design language for men’s occassion wear. The menswear designer has always taken a non-conformist, functional yet fun approach to menswear and the festive collection captures this mood while using beautifully woven brocades from the label that is known for promoting craft from Beneras.

In conversation with designer Kunal Rawal about his collaboration with Ekaya Banaras:

Kunal Rawal X Ekaya Banaras
Kunal Rawal X Ekaya Banaras

Tell us about the inspiration behind the collaboration with Ekaya.

Honestly, as a menswear designer I always stayed away from certain elements like floral, textiles like brocade etc. But as my label completes 15 years, I was quite inspired to try things I haven’t in the past. The idea of taking brocades into the occasion wear wardrobes of men felt so exciting, especially since it’s only made an appearance in womenswear until now. That was really how the idea of this collaboration came about.

This is the first time you’ve used brocade in your collection. What attracted you to the material and what were the challenges of working with it?

As a fabric, brocade is so entrenched in Indian culture and has such a rich, storied past. But we have only really seen it being used and experimented with for women, and not men. I have always believed in challenging myself and the boxes we tend to put men in, so working with brocades to create luxurious menswear came naturally as the next step. The challenges of working with brocade also stem from this line of thinking, to be honest. When a textile which has such a strong aesthetic, the challenge was to ensure that the brand signature came through seamlessly. We have been working on this collaboration for over a year now, handpicking the signature KR designs to be woven by the artisans at Ekaya into the fabric, layering my signature surface textures on top of the brocade itself to create a truly luxurious and different experience of brocade for men, and I really hope the men out there like it as much as I do.

Was there any special handloom technique used for the collection?

These brocade fabrics were made exclusively for the Kunal Rawal label by Ekaya. Our signature motifs have been translated into beautiful weaves and our signature colours also have been recreated by the artisans which you will not see in other brocade fabrics in the market.

What would say is one of the biggest problems plaguing the handloom sector today?

I have immense respect for Indian traditions and weaves. The danger in fashion is to ignore our cultures and traditions while opting for modernity. Personally, I love showing my respect for traditions with a slight twist of the contemporary and this collaboration highlights exactly this. With textile brands like Ekaya and younger designers in the industry modernising traditional craftsmanship for younger generations, there is hope yet for our strong Indian handloom sector.


All Images: Courtesy Kunal Rawal x Ekaya Banaras

Kunal Rawal on experimenting with brocades for the Ekaya Banaras collaboration

Akshita Nahar Jain

Sr Associate Editor

Akshita Nahar Jain has worked with various publications, including Elle, Harper’s Bazaar Bride, and Time Out Delhi, and written extensively on fashion and lifestyle. A sucker for alliteration and stylish sitcoms, she enjoys scrolling the web for less travelled destinations.

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