The fatigue is visible. It’s been less than six hours since Sandeep Khapra got off an international flight, but he doesn’t mind sharing some insights from his Dubai trip. “T-shirts are getting longer there. I saw it in London last October, it is now the trend in Dubai,” he says with a smile.
If Khapra has his way, they will trend in India come November. “I think we are getting to something very interesting, which the youngsters here will love.” As general manager, design, of the men’s wear segment at Max Retail, Khapra’s mandate involves spotting new trends and adapting them for the Indian market. That explains the almost maniacal travel. Khapra travels at least four times a year to different parts of the world, just to see what is trending.
This time it’s the long T-shirt. While it has already been stretched from 68 cm to 72 cm in spring, by November, it will become 76 cm, and in some cases even go up to 80 cm. “Chris Brown (the R&B vocalist) is known for this and he has a fan base here,” says Khapra, whose next task is to convince his buying team that this is a winning proposition. If that happens, negotiations with the vendors will get underway and come November, Brown will see youngsters sporting his style.
In the company’s sprawling office in Bengaluru, Khapra’s counterpart, Kamakshi Kaul, who heads design for women’s wear, is hard at work. The team, whose average age is barely 25, is debating the latest trends on social media. A NIFT graduate, Kaul says a trend would last for close to six months in 2010. “It’s down to barely three months today and we have to anticipate changing fashions.”
The spring of 2017, she says, will be Bohemian to reflect an outdoor spirit. Last winter, while in London, Kaul says she saw girls in voluminous tops and men in tight-fitting pants. “We adapted that for India by having layered tops for women and skinny denims for men.”