Pleats Are Back

By Sanika Achrekar

Pleats, as a functional design element, are known to add nuance to clothing. As the iconic fold comes back on the runways, we delve into details with fashion stalwarts on their place in menswear

Issey Miyake, the iconic designer who passed away recently, was the pioneer for pleats in fashion. In 1993, the designer had launched his Pleats Please line, for which he had used a patented process called ‘garment pleating’, which meant pleating clothes rather than doing so with textiles. Soon, celebrities and fashion enthusiasts of all ages saw the edge in wearing garments with pleats, and women weren’t the only ones flaunting the classic technique. That was just the beginning.

Just like key Y2K styles, pleats are kicking ass on runways, being discovered again by independent labels, and trickling down to fast fashion brands. Think pleated trousers, shirts, embroideries, and scarves in prints, single tones, or infused with other trends.

Baggy pleated pants made their comeback at Burberry and Dior, whereas kilts were seen at Louis Vuitton and Thom Brown. The latest Issey Miyake Spring/Summer 2023 heavily focused on its signature style, ranging from collectable pieces such as pleated boy shorts, knitwear, pants, blouses, and lousy genderless silhouettes in the forms of dresses and tops. At present, Zara and Uniqlo are joining the club to welcome pleats for both menswear and womenswear.

“Pleats can be used both for fashion and for function, it’s an essential yet stylish detail. Usually, pleats offer breathing room in a garment, but strategically placed pleats could make an understated fashion statement for men’s fashion,” explains designer Preeti Jain of Nirmooha.

Fashion designer Arjan Dugal, who recently launched his menswear collection, believes that pleats have always been a staple. “It’s that undercurrent of sophistication intertwined with a touch of texture play that will always create a beautiful look. More than that, if done nicely, the versatility of pleats is not easily matched, even with embroidery. It can be used in so many ways such as accents, as the main theme, as a subtle touch, or even to create volume,” he continues.

The best way to perfect pleats is by either wearing one pleated item with a basic, or doing double pleats like a monochrome head-to-toe. Jain explains how in garments, pleats are used in pants, in the lining of a blazer, or on the back of a shirt. All of these are meant for function, whereas fashion pleats could be found in poet shirts from the Renaissance Era, or big flowy pirate shirts. For some, fancy details like accordion pleats too can be found in formals, like in tuxedo shirts.

Traditional Indian menswear has almost always used pleats for enhancement and to give that extra flair. Jain thinks that these futuristic elements work in Indian attires where some draped pleats flow over the shoulder on a sherwani, giving a fashion-forward look to the groom or groomsmen. At a sangeet, you can opt for flowy harem pants, which will help ease your movement for the evening.

“Pleats, if done tastefully, will always stand out, as pleats are a very understated, intriguing detail to add to a garment. If I were to design or style pleats, I would love to see how pleats are enhanced with organza, and give it a loud look. Pleats on the front of the shirt with different textures of fabric sound fun to play around with,” she opines.

Aneeth Arora, founder of designer clothing brand Pero, says that with menswear, pleats are commonly attached to shirts and sleeves. “Multiple pleats are easy to play with. With pleats, if the fabric is a mix of synthetic, then they can be kept permanent but if you are using pure fabric, then it becomes difficult to hold them down is a very technical thing so we usually hold it down with a stitch it so that it doesn’t open up and this needs to be done very carefully,” she explains

Looks like pleats are here to stay, with a hint of new variations.

Reproduced with permission from Mansworldindia.com

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