If you asked Prabal Gurung back in 2009 if he’d ever design a men’s line, the answer might have surprised you: Gurung, it turns out, has been planning to delve into menswear all along. “I’ve always been interested in it,” he acknowledges. Ten years after the monumentally successful debut of his women’s collection, he’s ready to expand into new territory.
The looks, though, are not necessarily what you’d expect from a designer known for his romantic silhouettes. This time around, Gurung brings a little edge and funk to his styles, drawing deeply on the bright hues and prints of his childhood in Nepal and the edgy street shapes he encounters daily in his life as a New Yorker. Also evident: a sense of globalism. Gurung refers to his high-energy color palette as “a universal language” that crosses cultures and genders, and included models from nearly three dozen countries to walk his combined men’s and women’s runway show.
As seamless as he makes it look, stepping into the world of menswear is no small feat. We asked the designer about the creative process behind this collection and where he sees the line heading.
The Window: You are known for your feminine designs. Is there such a thing as “figure flattering” in menswear, and what does that look like?
Prabal Gurung: Tailoring is a huge part of menswear; we definitely wanted to honor the Savile Row technique in our approach to fit. The inspiration behind our inaugural menswear collection drew on my recent travels across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and, of course, the U.S. I saw so many different approaches to dressing, from streetwear to high tailoring. I wanted to combine these two worlds, blurring the lines between high suiting and street sweatshirts. While fit is key, everything can be mixed and matched together. It’s quite a similar approach to our womenswear collection, where we really want to celebrate the body and form, but also empower our clients to style the looks as they see fit.
Your men’s and women’s Spring collection share colors and fabrics. Going forward, will these two collections continue to be intertwined?
Yes, I envision continuing to show the collections together. We live in an ever-changing, diverse world where heteronormative lines are being blurred, something I am excited by and want to continue to push. We don’t live in a segregated world between men and women, so why should our runways be separate?
How would you describe the vibe of your men’s line? Who are you targeting as your audience for this collection?
The collection is inspired by an explorer—he’s a curious traveler who seeks out new discoveries and is interested in cross-cultural learnings. He has integrity, depth, and levity. That nomadic spirit is met by the sensibility of urban streetwear, inspired by the city of New York. The pieces can be layered and mixed and are designed for a man on the go—they are meant to fit all sorts of occasions. It is a melding of the colors I grew up with back home in Nepal, with where I am today.
You said that you always intended to do a men’s line. What makes Spring ’19 the perfect time to launch it?
The world we are living in is multifaceted: Roles, genders, and traditional identifiers are breaking down. Our brand ethos has always been founded on the idea of promoting diversity and being inclusive, and now really felt like the time to expand our offering to be able to include men.
It’s a pretty crowded space, though…
I see a need in the market for colorful, unique pieces that fall somewhere between sharp suiting and the sneaker-and-hoodie culture. Through my global travels over the past couple of years, I’ve been lucky enough to meet and engage with many different people from diverse backgrounds. The common ground is that so many men want to be able to use fashion as a tool to communicate who they are, and they aren’t finding anything on the market to truly represent and speak to this desire. So now felt like the time for us to speak to these men, to provide them with our perspective and offering, and to invite them into our world.
The lines between women’s and men’s clothing is blurring these days. Will we ever see a time when labels do not define themselves by gender?
I see a myriad of new brands heading in that direction, and I think it is fantastic that there are more options coming that speak to so many different people! Last season, we designed a women’s sweater that we ended up styling on one of our male models, and vice versa. We welcome all people of all identities to pick and choose from our offering and style themselves as they wish. That said, we won’t be cutting out our signature suiting or Atelier gowns that are tailored to a woman’s curves, or alter the trousers made for the male form any time soon.