As I had mentioned in one of my previous posts, I was invited to meet Mr. David Von Platen, the new Creative Director of SKNL’s entire Men’s Ready-to-wear Brand portfolio – which essentially covers the entire menswear range from value to premium. He is busy launching the Reid and Taylor A/W collection 2011.
We met, at the flagship store of Reid and Taylor on 100 Ft road at Indranagar, Bangalore, and chatted over coffee. I was a little late because of the traffic , and I was rushing straight from work (IT company) so I wasn’t entirely as well prepared as I would have liked to be – I actually wanted to carry a video camera and my cool hand-written calling cards…but never mind, maybe next time.
Well, here’s what happened –
As , my friend (and future Business Partner) and I reached the store a little late, I immediately rushed in and apologized to everyone , my first impression of David, was – “he looks so cool and relaxed”.
David, was dressed in a simple jeans and black tee-shirt outfit, and was looking around the store talking to the staff. He was extremely gracious, despite having met (I presume) several people before me, and the fact that I was late.
He also asked me which publication I was from, which took me by surprise and made me go a little red in the face, though I think the PR manager should have been the one going red.
I mumbled something about my hobby blog and full time job as a marketing manager at a software firm and my fashion design diploma and future ambitions to start my own fashion business, and I rushed to explain how I must have been invited as a part of their digital media outreach program; and how happy I was to be there, I ended by asking him if we were expecting more bloggers, because honestly I was as keen to meet fellow bloggers as I was to meet David and hear all about the collection.
To David’s credit, though he looked mildly surprised when he heard I was a blogger, he quickly smoothed over the little glitch and asked me polite questions about the blog and whether fashion blogs are big in India. When I told him all about my little blog, he made me write the name carefully in his notebook (my, stupid cards weren’t there, remember?) so he could look it up later. We chatted for a while about my design course at Marangoni, the men’s fashion scene in general and his various international stints.
Then we started talking specifically about his role at SKNL, his India connection and the latest collection–
Styop: David, this is your second stint in India, how are you enjoying it so far?
David: Yes, I was head of design for Madura Garments and I was based at Bangalore, I quite enjoyed my last stint in India and now India is one of my favorite places in the world, though I have to admit the first time round I had some apprehensions, I have grown to love this place and so when I had an opportunity to come back, I took it up without hesitation.
Styop: You speak English, Italian, French and Swedish fluently how are you with Hindi or Kannada?
David: I can say “I can’t speak Hindi” in Hindi ( laughs). So can you speak French well, since you studied in Paris? Maybe we can have this interview in French?!
Styop: Unfortunately not, my French is agonizingly weak despite my stay in Paris!!
Styop: Apart from work, what is it that fascinates you about India?
David: I love to wander around the city and sit at cafes or small chai shops observing the young people of the city, there is a lot of energy everywhere, and to those who look carefully change is so apparent, for example the last time I was here girls were wearing the Indian dress (salwar-kameez) made from woven fabric, and this time, the tops are all still wovens, but the bottoms are all knits!! I love seeing all this change, fashion is everywhere it is all around us!
Styop: What is your view of Indian men and their sense of fashion and style, compared to say, the Italian men or the American men?
David: I think Indian men are certainly getting very careful about the way they dress, especially in large cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore we can find plenty of stylish men. And while they are yet to reach the levels of interest that Italian or French men take in clothes, they certainly beat the American men. He laughs. I think India has a great tradition of fabric and a unique heritage of style, and the new Indian designers are doing a great job in bringing the Industry up to par with international standards.
Styop: So would you like to tell us a little about the collection?
David: As you know we are an integrated fabric and ready-to-wear label, so while people know us well for our fabrics we are yet to establish ourselves strongly in the ready-to-wear brands.
Our new collection, my first here, is keeping in line with our Brand’s Scottish heritage so while the design influence is Scottish, the silhouette is very modern and lean.
Most Indian men, prefer very baggy trousers and shirts, while the International trend is definitely moving to a sleeker fit and leaner look, so we are trying to bring that in.
This being the autumn-winter collection we have a comprehensive range of fine formal wear plus a wide range of elegant casuals to choose from. We also have knits, outerwear and accessories like scarves and ties.
The colors are typically darker, but our collection has bright highlights of Teal, Fuchsia, and Bordeaux bringing in a lighter more modern touch to the overall look.
The collection is comprehensive enough to complement every aspect of a man’s wardrobe from formal wear, to office wear and sportswear casuals.
The fabrics are superbly premium and and feel luxurious against the skin. The collection has a timeless styling coupled with a touch of modernity which makes it perfect for today’s men on the go.
Styop: Do you feel that being part of an integrated company like SKNL is a plus, or is it limiting in some ways?
David: So far I have found that it is a great strength, quality and specific fabrics supply is assured and that is a great relief. Though our strengths are more the wool or wool-blended fabrics, we do have a light-weight range of fabrics that we use for our summer collections and if required we will design fabrics as per our collection need as well. So overall it is a great plus.
Styop: Do you work with a team of designers here, in Bangalore?
David: Yes, we have a talented team of designers here, for both wovens and knits. I enjoy working with them a lot.
Styop: Will the collection be available Internationally ?
Today we have several brands in the SKNL portfolio which are present extensively in the International market in famous stores like Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf’s, Barney’s and many more.
So yes, of course eventually the Reid and Taylor collections will be marketed internationally, especially for Indians living abroad, but that is not the focus right now, we wish to first create a strong Indian Menswear Brand, our brand is still new to ready-to-wear and there is plenty to do here.
Styop: When can we see the collection in store?
David: Ah, in a few weeks, and you are most welcome to come see it, when it is here.
Styop: Of course, while I have the look book here with me, it would be nice to touch and feel the fabrics and take some pictures of the smaller details of the collections. Thanks for your time, wish you good luck for your debut collection, David.
The SKNL portfolio in India holds well-known brands such as Reid & Taylor, Belmonte, Stephens Brothers, the yet to be launched casual brand Krüger, and the brand World Player, which is the value priced brand for the consumers, and has just signed Sachin Tendulkar as their brand ambassador, these are all part of David’s portfolio.
The expectations will certainly be very high and we can’t wait for the collection to hit the stores and to see the next summer collection.
To read David’s recent interview on the Economic Times check here-
To read more about SKNL and Reid and Taylor see here-