The bandhgala is a truly Indian style statement that is being accepted world over as a perfect formal wear attire for fashionable men
One of the biggest contributions from India towards fashion is in my opinion is the classic menswear style of a bandhgala. A bandhgala jacket is the one with a Nehru collar and is also called a Jodhpur suit when worn with matching trousers.
The bandhgala jacket is more of a made-to-measure necessity as compared to a ready-to-wear western formal suit, as it fits the wearer like a glove from the neck down to the waist. The armholes are accordingly stitched so the jacket fits well on the chest while at the same time allows free movement of arms. It is a skill that select Indian tailors have learnt over the years.
The Jodhpur bandhgala jacket was invented in Jodhpur over a century ago. It is a short jacket with front button closing, high collar and ends at the hips just like a suit or a tuxedo does. The Jodhpur suit especially is a great option for formal events for men. PM Manmohan Singh wore one for the state dinner with President Obama in USA.
Trendsetters ‘The Beatles’ wore matching bandhgalas for their famous Shea Stadium concert in America that marked the beginning of ‘Beatlemania’ to the world. International menswear pioneer labels like Canali and Ermenegildo Zegna have openly adopted similar styles for their global customers. It is a style statement that automatically reflects luxury due to its custom tailored necessity. Many Indian bridegrooms may not opt for a ‘blingy’ sherwani, but instead go for a clean-cut bandhgala Jodhpur suit to shine on their special day.
One of the designers to keep the traditions alive is designer Raghavendra Rathore whose Jodhpuri jackets are handmade by local skilled artisans taking over 23 hours in meticulous tailoring. Born and brought up in the rich heritage city of Jodhpur, he grew up respecting the value of traditional silhouettes. After his education in America’s top fashion school Parsons in New York, he started his own label from India. “The logical growth of brand Raghavendra Rathore has been more of an emotional experience rather than getting entangled in the trendy and volatile fashion systems here.
For my brand connects with the soul, bringing about a fusion of the heritage of old world, with a contemporary twist,” explains Rathore. Some high profile names who own a Rathore bandhgala are Saif Ali khan, Navin Jindal, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Shekhar Gupta, Sanjay Kapur, Vikram Chandra and Abhiskeh Manu Singhvi.A well-stitched bandhgala is the easiest way to look regal and prince like in any formal setting. But the buck doesn’t stop there.
Online fashion brand www.shersingh.com has originated the Nehru collar polo shirt for a casual option for the dapper city men. A mixture of classic with new, the Shersingh Nehru collared polo has the branding of a Hindi numeric “1947” appliqué in the front and black thread embroidered ‘India’ on the back. This style truly highlights how the bandhgala could be a versatile style to be adapted with the casual or formal wardrobe of Indian gentlemen. Blending in its historical relevance with the modern consumers demands, the brand believes it to be more than just a shirt, but their pride.
Last month at the Cannes Film Festival (also known as the most stylish red carpet event of the year), actor Sanjay Suri opted for a pure linen handcrafted Jodhpuri suit at the Incredible India Party in France. Designed by Anita Dongre under her menswear label AD Man, the designer says the bandhgala is the right choice for men to wear on a red carpet: “The bandhgala looks regal and supremely elegant. It looks good on almost everyone. It is Indian and formal enough for the red carpet and can be worn in different lengths and different bottoms. The bandhgala is a great alternative to the suit or tuxedo for formal events.”
But does the bandhgala have to potential to match the popularity shared that by the tuxedo in the west or a formal suit? “The Jodhpuri Bandhgala jacket has been worn in Jodhpur for over a century by families from a lineage of rich heritage and traditions. The versatility of the outfit and the readaptation of the old style with the slick looking bandhgala that we meticulously customise to individual clients make it quite special. I believe strongly in this product and want to make the bandhgala India’s ambassador of heritage overseas with its versatility and growing acceptability as a staple part of any man’s wardrobe, be it New Delhi or New York, Mumbai or London,” says Rathore.