Functional is fashionable too
Though not all fashion trends suit you, some throw up surprises. These days, functional garments like hidden pockets, adjustable trouser lengths, anti-wrinkle garments, etc are a norm. In fact, last year reversible clothing appeared on the scene and one still sees it as a part of one's work attire.
With regards this trend gaining prominence, designer Aakansha Agrawal, Director-Founder of brand Gulaal, states, "A woman plays multiple roles these days, from homemaker to a mother to a working professional. Functional garments do more than just make the wearer look good. These belong to the application area of technical textiles and are specifically designed to deliver functionality or performance of the wearer."
Designer Prarthana Kochhar, Founder, Kovet, finds the different techniques used here interesting. "And better silhouettes make it so special. It is perfect for the ones who don't like so much detailing in their garments. Its classiness is what makes these garments come into prominence."
Not just a fad
Designer Sakshi Kholi, Founder, Saakk, has a remarkable take. "With the advent of time, humans have created needs for them which never seems to cease.
Their multiple choices and not so compromising behaviour towards fashion have led a new way for the invention of functional garments. Functional garments came into existence because nowadays fashion followers not only want trendy stuff; they realise what is a fad and what is going to stay for life.
They not only want more comfort in their clothes but are also looking for versatility which can offer them much more than just covering their body. They want not just aesthetic satisfaction but something that can perform multiple functions. And this enhanced functionality, when realised, is turning a large audience to be inclined towards functional garments."
We have seen varieties in functional garments. Kochhar reveals, "Some of the functional garments I have seen around are with adjustable trouser length, hidden and roomy pockets, adjustable slit in dresses and anti-stain, anti-wrinkle and easy care garments."
Sakshi rightly states that since these garments are user-specific, it is very individualistic in terms of creation. "I have seen many around me, especially a lot of sports people, wear functional garments. I see myself wearing an air hole Nike T-shirt whenever I am going to the gym. It provides moisture transfer back to air easily and is very light to carry.
I have a puffer jacket from Primark that I can fold and it will become very small, just the size of my fist. Now this is functional as I can carry it easily anywhere. There are functional clothing I see my doctor friends wear with multiple pockets.
Being a fashion designer, I do provide hidden pockets in kurtas or dresses and adjustable straps in off-shoulder clothes and the size of pants can be adjusted too. My nephew is currently fond of colour changing jackets and shoes, which allow him to change according to his plan and situation."
Agrawal, notably, has seen women's dresses get pockets these days. "What a relief! It's a basic function but very, very important. There are Kangaroo pockets on your dress or T-shirt to hold baby and concealed zippers for breastfeeding, to name a few."
Functional yet stylish
There are ways one can wear functional garments stylishly. Kochhar suggests pairing functional garments with their bottom wear (skirts, pants, shorts, culottes, etc).
Sakshi does feel functional garments can be worn in daily life. "It's used for protective clothing. It's used in sports clothing as well to enhance the functionality of sports person by providing high level of breathability, moisture/ vapour transfer, heat insulation, wind proofing, and UV protection depending upon the sports.
It's also used in medical functional clothing which includes functionalities like absorbency, air permeability, and durability based on the wearer and requirements. The garments are used for healthcare or hygiene, surgical clothing, therapeutic clothing and intelligent functional clothing. It can also be used in body shaping, contouring and support apparel to enhance wearer's appearance."
Accessorising these attires is quite vital. Sakshi states, "As per the trends, it's the most diverse season of shoes and bags. We can see sleek, functional walking sandals in sturdy black leather and whipped up fantastical pumps for escapist fantasies.
Bags are tiny and hands-free or enormous, giving women and men the choice to leave home empty handed or with everything they own slung over their waist or shoulder. The belt bag brings a class to a hand-free accessory. Don't put all your money in sneakers just yet. Pumps are about to get very very interesting. The tiny sunglasses are larger than life shades. Some of the brands went bigger, bolder and epically tinted."
Kochhar suggests accessorising them with detailed buttons, fancy sunglasses, and long boots.
One can call functional garments a tricky trend. Wearing it without looking stupid should be kept in mind. "The garment is structured in such a way that it creates lots of mystery in the silhouette. To wear this, you need to wear confidence," says Kochhar.
Sakshi agrees. "There is a lot of technicality involved in making functional garments and how to market it to the audience so that they feel it is tailor-made for them. From their production to testing and putting it out in the market to see how our clients are responding to it. Can we improve the functionality, what the audience is ready to accept? Once functionality is checked and test is passed, we now need to make it look fashionable and give it an aesthetic look so that it can further attract a larger mass who will wear it for the sake of fashion."
Agrawal, on the other hand, reveals, "It's not at all a tricky trend. As a matter of fact, it's a very logical trend considering the multiple roles a person has to play in the limited time that one has."
In these times of multi-tasking, it's only necessary that our clothes keep pace!