On the back of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week last month, we’ve profiled the emerging menswear designers that caught our eye for all the right reasons. With a focus on luxury sportswear, emerging designer Eeshaal Niranjan is leading his label Model Citizen to become the next big athleisure brand on the menswear market.
His aesthetic bridges the gap between functional street wear and modern tailoring for an extremely wearable, and extremely cool design portfolio. We sat down with Eesh to find out how his collection came about, what he thinks of Australia’s menswear industry, and what’s next for the aspiring young designer.
GQ: What is your background in fashion?
EN: Fashion intrigued me from a young age. I eventually progressed into a floor sales role working for multinational brands at a retail level, this experience taught me the fundamentals of an enterprise-driven business. Key elements such as visual merchandising, stock management as well as store operational understanding.
Eventually, I progressed to work for a boutique tailoring house during their transitional phase to progress into new markets. The small business environment was an exceptional learning curve.
How and when did your label come about?
The initial idea came about during a conversation between close friends. We felt there wasn’t a brand out there that represented our lifestyle, we then recognised the need for functional clothing that also looked sharp; a utilitarian off-duty look that could also carry you through the day.
I feel you can wear “Model Citizen” from the office to a meeting with friends over drinks and then to an evening dinner while looking stylish. Model citizen is for the modern man on the move – he has an international mindset and is always on the run chasing his dreams.
What was the inspiration behind this collection?
This new season is focused on creating a uniform for the international man on the move, involving iconic outerwear garments such as the bomber jacket and trench coat featured on the runway, layered over our take on the ‘luxury hoodie’, a leisure sportswear classic that has broken down walls in menswear in the last few seasons. We created an idea that we feel ties-in with the understated style that Australian men appreciate.
How did you translate this into apparel?
From the soft construction in the shoulders to the mobility armhole and innovative blend of fabrics, the collection represents a new modern voice for Australian menswear. It also plays on the contrast between modern tailoring and streetwear.
In terms of detail, we’ve featured polished aluminium zippers and embellished pockets alongside functional elements, such as merino wool ribbed cuffs that replaced conventional buttoned cuffs on jackets. The insulated silk lining we’ve used provides the wearer with comfort, while the piping reflects a tailors finish.
We also expressed the brand’s ideologies through our choice of runway models, who were a reflection of my circle of friends: diverse and authentically themselves. The footwear complemented the garments and paid homage to the new age sneaker movement that is relevant in fashion. We believe the streets have become our runway, and our approach was to pay homage to this idea.
What do you think about the present menswear offering in Australia?
There is so much talent in the emerging designer category this season – the future for menswear seems bright and constantly evolving.
The success of Australian brands in overseas markets gives us the confidence to present a strong product, as well as design intuition that is organic to our industry.
The most luxurious stores in the world now call Australia home, and the infrastructure to support this growing economy seems vividly possible.
What designers are you a fan of?
I admire the showmanship and execution of Umit Benan. His designs are on another level, I regard him as the “Tarantino” of menswear. His vision of menswear comes to life with the imagery of his shows and his relevance to world trends through his design. A true creative visionary in menswear.
Is being a designer in Australia a disadvantage?
Australia’s climate and geographical location do impact our international relevance during fashion seasons, but it also allows us to offer a much more refined and considered product. We operate at our own pace and I feel that allows us to be uniquely Australian.
In terms of brand awareness and marketing efforts, it is necessary to move and expand abroad, especially if we are selling the culture of being from the Asia Pacific region.