As summer closes in and has us mentally preparing for the big fat Indian festivities to come with garish colours reminiscent of Holi, Prathyusha Garimella has quietly launched her first pieces of menswear in a capsule collection called Keya, a homage to her friends who prefer the more muted yet striking ensembles of which we don’t see enough.
“There are a lot of pieces in the market of menswear which are really loud, so I proceeded with neutral shades without taking away the power one feels in these clothes, not at all. For a really long time, all my guy friends were asking me to get into menswear, but I found you really need to take time out to do menswear,” she explains.
“So this year I thought to take out some time and just concentrate on menswear. This was a capsule collection, not a full-fledged collection, focussing on menswear — but there are a few pieces of womenswear.”
Already receiving orders for such pieces, the label’s Instagram tells us why. Keya’s high-sartorial Indian elegance shines through the sophisticated kurtas and Nehru jackets thanks to the young designer’s sense of gentleness and calmness rather than noise and hype.
The design IQ for Keya is on a different latitude here, with Prathyusha explaining the priority was the menswear, “I think with every collection a designer puts out, you’d want to do something different. This time, the colour palette was the focus; and considering I do a lot of pastel and there’s a lot in the market, I decided to go for neutrals and ultimately pret. Plus for the summer, these are lighter and a lot less blingy.”
In a time when designers take to travel and other-worldly experiences for design inspiration, Prathyusha did plenty of close-to-home research.“The guy friends whom I spoke to don’t like loud garments in terms of colour and work. Even the little work one does see, they probably won’t like that but you have to have some, I guess. I did a lot of research through them, asking for opinions on colour, how much work they can handle… a little input here and there.”
Speaking in silk
Given the inclination to neutral tones, it seemed only right that silk be the go-to here. “I used a lot of silk this time, which I don’t usually do,” the designer nods at a champagne number on a mannequin, “Silk has that softer and easier feel and look to it, often flowing better. Though silk does make a lot more sense for both men and women because it’s not stiff. And using satin for men in this case didn’t make sense.”
The silk, as a result, adds a flattering sheen to the garment but not one that’s subverts the collection’s ethos.
The collection’s name Keya spoke to Prathyusha during initial brainstorming for two reasons, the first being her niece’s name is Keya while the second being that keya or kaya is also a monsoon flower, commonly found in India and Bangladesh, with flowing white petals which have inspired poetry from the likes of Joydev Kya. Furthering her love for botanical elements, Prathyusha manages to meld such imagery in subtle yet ways into menswear without detracting from the clean lines and easy structure of a garment.
So who is the Keya man? “The man who wears Keya is someone who knows what he wants but wants something understated,” she concludes, “This also speaks to guys who don’t want to wear something typically Indian but this is quite apt for a wedding. In terms of age brackets, anyone from 20 to 60 can wear something from Keya and carry it differently.”