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Menswear comes of age with first fashion week

India is set to host its inaugural men's fashion week from Friday, which observers say is a long overdue nod to a growing and lucrative market often overshadowed by women's clothes.

The event in the capital New Delhi New Delhi (dĕl`ē), city (1991 pop. 294,149), capital of India and of Delhi state, N central India, on the right bank of the Yamuna River.  hopes to capture the interest of India's millions of young males, many of whom have traded in traditional cotton outfits for shop-bought shirts and trousers.

Menswear currently accounts for around 80 percent of brand-name sales in India, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 the Fashion Design Council of India The Council of India was the advisory council to the Governor-General of India during the years of British administration. It was established by the Regulating Act for India in 1773 to oversee the newly created office of Governor-General. , which is organising the shows in partnership with global apparel giant Van Heusen.

Yet the two most prominent showcase events in India -- Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai and Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week The Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week is a fashion show held in Mumbai annually. In 2007 it was held between September 5 and September 9 2007 and featured some of the top fashion designer ranges in India including that of The Glass House range by Kavita Bhartiya.  in New Delhi -- have previously dedicated only a tiny portion of their shows to men's clothes.

Smaller shows, such as this week's Kolkata Fashion Week in eastern India, generally follow the same trend.

"Menswear has always been the stepchild step·child  
1. A child of one's spouse by a previous union.

2. Something that does not receive appropriate care, respect, or attention: "Demography has a reputation for being the stepchild of . . .
 of Indian fashion," said Shaan Thadhani, a fashion buyer who runs a boutique in south Delhi South Delhi is an administrative district of the National Capital Territory of Delhi in India.

It is bounded by the Yamuna River to the east, and by the districts of New Delhi to the north, East Delhi to the northeast across the Yamuna, Gautam Buddha Nagar District of Uttar

Conventional tailored clothes will never go out of style, he said, but increased purchasing power Purchasing Power

1. The value of a currency expressed in terms of the amount of goods or services that one unit of money can buy. Purchasing power is important because, all else being equal, inflation decreases the amount of goods or services you'd be able to purchase.

 and an influx of high-street brands had made fashion more accessible to the average Indian male.

"Most men want good clothes and they don't want to necessarily have to spend a fortune on them," said Thadhani. "Men's attitudes to fashion and to looking good have changed -- and that has led to new demands."

India is only the fourth country to hold a separate men's fashion week, despite the ready-to-wear men's market being twice as big as the female sector, according to industry figures.

The reason for this, according to Van Heusen's chief operating officer Chief Operating Officer (COO)

The officer of a firm responsible for day-to-day management, usually the president or an executive vice-president.
 Shital Mehta, is that many Indian women prefer traditional outfits such as sarees and shalwars over western clothing.

As for the men, Mehta said that the market was not yet at the designer wear stage but that Indian males were "shifting up one notch at a time."

The men's ready-to-wear market is worth around one billion dollars, and the total demand for men's apparel, including custom-made garments, is closer to 9.3 billion dollars, according to a study by Technopak Advisors.

That number is expected to grow to 13 billion dollars by 2012.

"The market was always there for men, but it was ignored or not taken seriously," said designer Zubair Kirmani, who will be participating in the New Delhi men's fashion week.

Over the last decade, glittering shopping malls and glossy magazines such as Vogue and Harper's Bazaar Harper’s Bazaar

leading fashion magazine. [Am. Culture: Misc.]

See : Fashion
 have arrived in India to woo a burgeoning middle-class.

Indian designers such as Rohit Bal, Tarun Tahiliani and the duo of Rohit Gandhi & Rahul Khanna have made in-roads at home and abroad, but many men still covet cov·et  
v. cov·et·ed, cov·et·ing, cov·ets
1. To feel blameworthy desire for (that which is another's). See Synonyms at envy.

2. To wish for longingly. See Synonyms at desire.
 international brands.

"About four years ago there was no market for men. They would come for sherwanis (traditional Indian jacket) for their weddings and that's it," said designer Siddhartha Tytler, who is also taking part in the showcase event.

"Now there's a good set of people who love shopping for menswear and want something out of the ordinary other than your Zaras and your Gaps."

The male fashion week is expected to blend contemporary ethnic and modern western styles.

Tytler said that despite building excitement, it was too early to predict what kind of impact the shows would have on sales.

"It's only once the buyers come in and place their orders that we can make a call on that. At the end of the day it is about money."
Copyright 2009 AFP South Asian Edition
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Publication:AFP South Asian Edition
Date:Sep 10, 2009
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