It's 2018 and some men are still wearing blazers with jeans.
So clearly, I have a bone to pick with men's fashion in the country. If you haven't already noticed, streetstyle spotting or trendspotting after fashion weeks and soirees with glitzy red carpets is one of our favourite things to do but that has proven to be surprisingly challenging when it comes to men's fashion.
It's because we're doing menswear dirty you guys!
Don't believe me? Look at this!
Maybe we're missing something here... or maybe it's because this is what we see on the ramp:
On second thought, maybe menswear is doing US dirty!
Ramp to reality?
With international brands like Burberry adopting a 'See Now Buy Now' approach, we gotta ask: why is runway style here so ludicrous? Either we see some solid, well-tailored suits which are neither here or there, basic kurtas or overdone to death wedding wear.
The usual suspects -- Amir Adnan, Fahad Hussayn, Republic by Omer Farooq hit the right notes but some like Ismail Farid and Ammar Belal are either absent from the fashion week line-ups or like Nomi Ansari and HSY, just more focused more on womenswear.
Which might explain why at the Hum Showcase not so long ago, we kept seeing outfits that were more outlandish than the last and thought, "Who would wear these?!"
And rightly so, when the designers showcasing admittedly share that their collections are not meant to be, well, wearable.
Zahid Khan of Kuki Concepts shares, "I basically show my vision on the catwalk. It doesn’t have to be an entirely wearable collection but it has to be artistic. My Showcase collection was reflective of my recent travels. I had visited homes where there were tiny sparrows perched on cages and butterflies. The calligraphic prints were reminiscent of a recent trip to New York. I hadn’t really created the collection from a sales point of view and so I was very surprised when people actually made enquiries regarding it."
Umair Mirza, the man behind the fashion blog Umairica actually thinks designers are doing a better job merging novelty and practicality.
Designers showing at fashion week share that their collections are not meant to be, well, wearable. "I hadn’t really created the collection from a sales point of view and so I was very surprised when people actually made enquiries regarding it," admits Zahid Khan of Kuki Concepts
"Previously we used to see hideous clothes in the name of fashion and innovation but now, what we see on the runway is more appealing. Of course there will always be theatrics on the ramp so some runway fashion only looks good at red carpet events; you can wear a fancy and funky jacket at fashion event but not a friends valima."
He makes a fair point — and maybe that's the enquiries Khan mentioned, coming from people in the limelight. Hasnain Lehri can pull off a blingy Muse suit at awards shows but models, celebrities and influencers aside, would the real, average man who wants to be on trend really opt for such extravagant outfits?
Why menswear in the country exists in a 'formal' vaccuum
So if regular men can't look to fashion weeks for inspiration, where do they go?
It's slim pickings it seems, as rip-off spotting blogger Aamir Bukhari of Aamiriat concurs that there's a lack of options, calling the state of mens fashion in the country "dismal at best".
"Over the years, it has lost touch with what majority of the population i.e. younger demographic wants to wear. That market is largely dependent on exports from east Asia and local designers seem to exist in bubble of only providing formal suiting and occasion wear such sherwanis/kurtas."
He accepts he'd rarely covet what we sees on the ramp.
"I have found it very difficult to get pieces of clothing that I can invest in. Most of what has been presented on runways is expensive and impractical for an Average Joe like myself who doesn't work in the 'creative industry'," says blogger Aamir Bukhari of Aamiriat
"Since I don't borrow clothes for runway appearances, I have found it very difficult to get pieces of clothing that I can invest in. Most of what has been presented on runways is expensive and impractical for an Average Joe like myself who doesn't work in the 'creative industry'. But I have overtime bought/worn things from Ismail Farid, Republic, Jazib Qamar, Amir Adnan, Munib Nawaz and Zaheer Abbas. Having said that I do admit I can't inculcate them as my daily wardrobe."
And what's worse than designers churning out collection after collection with little creativity? Well, the fact that they seem to be designing clothes that aren't even season appropriate; so many long jackets and layers on the ramp in spring/summer? Really?
"The local fashion designers can't afford to launch their own trendy casual wear because they can't essentially compete with cheap prices of large clothing brands. The economics and logistics here happen to be biggest constraint.Hence there is this catch 22 of lack of innovation," explains Aamir.
Haseeb Sultan, a style enthusiast and blogger thinks things are changing for the better. He accepts progress has been slow for a society "drenched in toxic masculinity" but they're getting there.
"There's a limit to what you can wear on the streets, then it's about individual style too. Personally, I wouldn't wear anything that's TOO OTT. There's a charm to experimenting but you have to still maintain your aesthetic," he shares.
So where do we draw the line?
While designers seem to be busy with showcasing their craft, some high-street brands like Sapphire, Stoneage and Yellow, with Chapter 2 also dabbling in menswear recently on the ramp are now are giving men stellar options for everyday casuals and semi formals.
Collections range from trendy to experimental (without breaking the bank!) to basic, a good mix for the average Joe whose not afraid to shake things up once in a while.
Many of the old powerhouses of fashion have long shown menswear collections (Rizwan Beyg, Ismail Farid, Munib Nawaz to name a few) but relatively newer upcoming brands are still finding their footing in the market. That being said, it's as if mens fashion has no rules anymore; all things go now. And we're hoping what's ahead is better than what's passed.
One thing's for sure, the growing menswear market is a blessing only because it's becoming less and less acceptable for men to be roaming around in football gear.