Fashion is about telling stories, says Narendra Kumar, renowned fashion designer and Creative Director at Amazon Fashion, India. Each new trend reflects the changing times we live in. This is why, most of Narendra’s fashion shows capture a story of the age – either of one great love, a tender relationship, a literary thought, a snapshot of society or a political ideology. The stories unravel through his androgynous collections that are both edgy and elegant, whether it is an array of vibrant jackets, structured tops, sharply tailored pants or a set of smart jumpsuits, floor-length dresses and stylish skirts.
The fashion designer who believes that his “clothes are his superstars” is known to make opinionated statements through his shows or create an emotional movie of love and family on the ramp with his work. The surprise element is such an important part of every runway show he organises that he is often affectionately called ‘the Indian fashion industry’s storyteller.’
“I remember doing a show called ‘The Protest show’ where all the models were gagged and there was no music on the ramp,” he recalls. “And there are shows like ‘The Letter’, which was a show about a couple getting married despite being from different backgrounds. Yet another show was called ‘The Thought Police’ which had a very special social message,” he says.
Narendra’s journey in the Indian fashion industry began in 1990 when he graduated from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and he began working as a designer for Ensemble, co-founded by Tarun Tahiliani.
According to Narendra, though athleisure is a trend that is all-pervasive now, we can look out for much more over the festive season. “This year, there are other trends for women like a greater focus on Indian textiles in easy western silhouettes. When it comes to specific trends - this is the season of stripes and one can’t get enough of it. Prints are also a perennial favourite and bold prints are in vogue. Off shoulder styles are another strong trend along with wide legged pants. For the festive season people are combining ethnic pieces with western tops or bottoms driving a very youthful appeal,” he adds.
As to how men’s fashion has evolved over time, he says it is growing at a very rapid pace over the last few decades and is being fuelled by the youthfulness of the modern Indian customer.
“If you look back - the only things that worked a decade ago was wedding wear and work wear with a bit of casual plugged in. Today, with growing youth market that is financially more secure with growing dispensable income and health consciousness -- the trend is more towards comfort and a sportswear-directed story. No wonder, athleisure is the biggest trend in menswear today."
Narendra’s latest collection is called Neverhyde, which is a collection for plus-sized men and women. “It was an interesting take on Dr Jeykll and Mr Hyde (a man who transforms between two personae) and revolves around the notions around plus-sized clothes,” he says. “With the changing awareness of gender equality and other issues there is no longer the need for duality. That is why this collection is called ‘Never Hyde’. The focus of this collection is to break all convention by adding a lot of colour, eccentric prints and silhouettes.”
He also has a new athleisure and streetwear collection and a new line called FKNS (Fake News) which is an entirely athleisure couture-based line for both young women and men.
Despite being a veteran in the industry, the designer still puts the same effort into a creation that he did when he started over two decades ago. He often says that the secret of his success is the fact that he focuses on creating beautiful designs.
“Personally, I have learnt from my travels, encounters and with every collection have evolved as a human being and a designer,” he says. “I have engaged with fashion that appeals to the entire country, not just our concentrated metros. While we worked on building a wider base of consumers, we also kept the imagery and content very contemporary in nature.”
Narendra has designed for quite a few movies like Fashion, Blue, Alladin and No Smoking among others, and individually for a lot of actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan, Priyanka Chopra, and Kangana Ranaut.
“While whole lot of designers used to spend a lot of time looking at the world outside and the Taj Mahal for inspiration, me included, it’s great to see the new generation of designers are inspired by local textiles and crafts,” he says. “They are marrying these fabrics and crafts with global trends when it comes to styles and silhouettes.”
“Your wardrobe should always consists of a lot of basics that work timelessly but topped with new season stuff to give yourself an edge and keep your style contemporary,” he says.
Men have more basics in their wardrobe as opposed to women. “The refresh needs to be seasonal or even occasion based,” he adds.
“Fashion to me is also about expressing a sense of confidence in oneself. While it can elevate one’s self-confidence it is still is a layer over your actual personality.”
Narendra says he wants to focus on his company becoming the go-to destination for fashion in India. “On the personal front, I want to take charge of the Couture Athleisure space.”