The eponymous luxury men's occasion-wear brand champions a new design aesthetic. Founded by one of the youngest couturiers in India, the label has been beautifully combining traditional Indian design with a signature contemporary twist since the past fifteen years. The fashion label aspires to further Indian design values and create timeless classics that can become the cornerstone of every fashion-conscious man's wardrobe. The core team seeks to push the boundaries of couture and transform it into wearable art.
Mumbai-based luxury menswear designer Kunal Rawal started his label Kunal Rawal Dstress in 2006. Having graduated from London School of Fashion, his style of design is described as a mix of contemporary silhouettes and Indian embellishment. Armed with the knowledge of construction, silhouettes and textiles, he opened his first store in Juhu Mumbai.
The young fashion designer takes cues from his father's style statement to design his masterpieces. The routine visits to his father’s garment factory inculcated a sense of curiosity about fashion design that had a lasting impact. In 2006, he launched his first label ‘dstress’ and retailed avant-garde meets sporty-chic designs resulting in a subtle tweak to traditional Indian menswear.
The brand takes industrial inspiration and often uses tongue-in-cheek humour when coming up with a particular design. “I love playing around with the ethnic Indian silhouettes—by dismantling it, styling it in interesting ways to create new shapes and silhouettes for occasion-wear. We keep experimenting with surface textures- embroideries- tech- etc. I see it as an aesthetic product that can be worn by anybody and everybody and it totally follows the global trend of cross-cultural influences" he tells Elle.
Notably he has worked with several Bollywood celebrities like Anil Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Siddhartha Malhotra and Varun Dhawan among several others. He has also designed jerseys for IPL cricket teams like Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore. What's more Kunal Rawal has also collaborated with iconic actor Salman Khan's fashion brand ‘Being Human’ for an exclusive collection.
“Getting our aesthetic accepted in a world where only maximalist Air India-Maharaja-like costumes were the norm was the biggest challenge. It was difficult dealing with the regressive thinking of how men are supposed to look and dress," he tells Elle. "I had to think of ways in which men could break out of the mould and start participating in conversations about their styles and outfits. Earlier, men’s silhouettes were an afterthought, even if they were the grooms.”
Kunal Rawal uses various design constituents like knotting techniques, pleating and metallic work armed with invaluable knowledge about the Indian market and global fashion design. The label- apart from being a luxury Indian menswear brand- has become popular for its non-conformist multi-functional approach toward design. Kunal Rawal DStress speaks about its cultivated imperfection and unconventional aesthetic while stayed entrenched in Indian culture.
“Indian wear is far more democratic today. What is appropriate for a man to wear or a woman to wear, what colour will look good on them or what will make them look out of place? We’ve had to work with certain parameters to ensure how the garment would look, but now the world is changing and people are becoming more experimental" Kunal rawal tells Vogue.
One of Kunal Rawal's shows is iconic as he used actor Sonam Kapoor Ahuja as showstopper. “Kunal’s design is all about being unconventional. A woman showstopping for a menswear brand is quite a bold statement. I have always been an avid supporter of gender-fluidity in fashion and closing Kunal’s show was the perfect marriage of my beliefs and his brand’s values. When he asked me to be his showstopper, he didn’t have to ask me again. I was immediately onboard with the idea,” Sonam Kapoor Ahuja tells Vogue.
For this year’s collection, the label will be playing with more colours. "When it comes to a personal closet tweak, one change I’m doing this year is I’d like to play more with tailored fits" the designer revealed on his official website. Thinking about his hand embroidery, printing, textures and silhouettes, one cannot help wonder what the fashion designer will bring on the table with extensive colour. Since the new decade is all about experimenting and adding new colours to the mood board- it will be a welcoming development.
Kunal Rawal's design aesthetic unites traditional works of art with functionality and the young designer believes that fashion should be fun and not restricted. As much as he wants men to have a cupboard full of options when it comes to traditional outfits, Kunal also wants them to have an alternative when it comes to clothing. The fashion designer's expansive knowledge and experimental design aesthetic has subsequently resulted in strong brand positioning for the label.
The eponymous Indian luxury menswear brand shares the design aesthetic of its founder Kunal Rawal—as it combines the contemporary with the classic- always with a forward looking spirit. The brand challenges preconceived notions about fashion and introduces elements of surprise and experimentation with envelope-pushing designs that combine the finest textiles with unique silhouettes, patterns, prints and concepts. What's more the design philosophy behind each collection is to play with the finest techniques, textures, patterns and silhouettes in surprising ways, and create immense wearability and versatility in each garment.
Kunal Rawal (Founder)
Recognition and Awards
Products and Services
Luxury menswear that combines global silhouettes with Indian textile craft and techniques.
- Official website Kunal Rawal
- Brand history Kunal Rawal
- Kunal Rawal and Sonam Kapoor Ahuja on how couture is becoming far more democratic Vogue
- Kunal Rawal On Moulding Menswear and Masculinity In India For 15 Years Elle
- Kunal Rawal at India Couture Week 2021 Vogue
- Kunal Rawal at India Couture Week 2020 Vogue
- Kunal Rawal opens in New Delhi GQ
- Facebook profile of Kunal Rawal Facebook
- I am all for the sheen and not shine: Designer Kunal Rawal Indian Express
- Why brands are betting big on fashion designers Forbes
- Instagram profile of Kunal Rawal Instagram
- Delve Into The Musical Preferences Of Top Fashion Minds Elle
- Twitter profile of Kunal Rawal Twitter
- Kunal Rawal makes his Delhi debut with a flagship store Lifestyle Asia
- LinkedIn profile of Kunal Rawal LinkedIn
- Kunal Rawal Pernia's Pop-Up
- Kunal Rawal DLF Emporio
- Inside designers Arpita Mehta and Kunal Rawal’s star-studded wedding celebrations Vogue
- Stores Kunal Rawal
Kunal Rawal (Founder)
Fashion and Textiles