Nehru Jacket – A Transition From The Basic Achkin Model Over The Years
What is a Nehru jacket?
Trendy, voguish and brimming to the core with a classical sense of soigné that is only outclassed by the nuanced allegories of style etched within it’s layers the Nehru jacket is a semi traditional hip length tailored coat that was worn and made popular by India’s first Prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Borrowing its name after him, it is mostly worn by men with a Mandarin styled short collar without a lapel and a symmetrical button placket front which is inspired in resemblance from the Indian achkan which is popularly termed as a Sherwani.
The Jodhpuri – Khadi variant worn by Mr. Nehru was a more westernised cousin of this traditional design which combined features of a British tailoring structure quite appealingly and successfully during the British Raj era and went on to become one of the most globally recognized political fashion statements starting from the 50s to this very day.
The significance of the Nehru Jacket is directly proportional to its stages of evolution over the years, which deserves it’s own place in history as well. Having it’s initial roots from being a shorter and westernised alternation of the Indian achkan/Sherwani to becoming one of the most symbolic representations of non alignment and democratic independence as well as being synonymous to the Nehruvian identity in global politics.
Such a perception was however a very gradual one, with the jacket only being termed as a shorter hip length variation of the achkan and being not termed as “not very different” from a traditional suit jacket in the initial stages of the 1940s.
Popularly known then as “ Bandh Gala coat”, which basically means “ closed neck coat”, it soon started incorporating single and double vents with a fastened collar fully covering the collarless shirts underneath and with matching trousers they became associated with a clean image that represented posh and high class nobility within the society.
On a side note, these variations were strangely not even actually worn by the great man himself, as he preferred the more traditional version of the achkan. But by that time, his popularity had rubbed off on the jacket, literally making it equivalent to his own image.
Worldwide popularity of Nehru jacket:
With Nehru jacket’s true essence being visible as a traditional powerhouse with a widely versatile range of style and flair, it’s subsequent rise in popularity post independence saw it’s image being propagated as India’s own answer to the tie and tuxedo. Mainstream media soon started exploiting it’s global image through occasional references in movies, music videos etc.
Arguably the greatest pop cultural icons The Beatles became highly influenced by it’s debonair style and ended up adopting Nehru jacket regularly for their own fashion statements. Contemporary appearances and uses in global scenario’s increased with its presence in the internationally recognized James Bond franchise where it came in popular movies like Dr. No and Octopussy.
Similar instances on a frequent basis helped etch Nehru jackets as culturally significant, owing to their extreme rise in popularity in America and Europe in the 60s and 70s. Some still believe that this spur in popularity and favour was a form of rebellion by the aspirational classes as a way of promoting minimalism against the rising trend of capitalistic tendencies that was gripping the world economies like a vice.
Being associated with such an image enabled the jacket to remain a cultural phenomenon throughout generations till date, being ranked amongst the top percentile of global political fashion declarations of all time.
Besides, with the general perception of men being labelled as “ ignorant” towards the concept of fashion more often than not, the presence and popularity of the and it’s versatility became a statement of resurgence for male representation in the global fashion scale. It was instrumental in replacing the insinuated stereotype that only western regions can hold a dominant hegemony over international fashion.
It’s versatility and zealousness have stood the test of time even in the current era with newer modifications and attributes coming forth with the changing diaspora of time. It’s influence regarding the ‘bandh gala/closed neck’ pattern of style would later on inspire several changes in the fashion industry over generations, with the popular turtleneck style being a close successor of this model.
While limited to cotton and khadi in its earlier versions, over time it started incorporating newer fabrics, styles, colours and designs to its palette. From classic turquoise blue to shallow beige, single structured to multi variant, sleeveless to full sleeved the diverse array of choices has made it a must have for every Indian man’s wardrobe. India’s official answer to any and all occasions, the future of the Nehru jacket has been predicted to go an even longer way.