Traditionally for men in India the body has been a default accompaniment to discharging prescriptive duties. Body, grooming and good looks are peripheral where the dominant narrative is submission to domesticity and being responsible for the collective, whether in the household or in society.
Things are beginning to change.
Men in India have certainly donned a new skin. There is a shift amongst the youth today. The body is no longer a blind spot. It is consciously shaped. It serves as a site for self expression .The aesthetic interpretation, however is varied. The language in small town India is perhaps more vibrant, more voluble. Men in India are now more gaze worthy than they have ever been.
These images collected by the Futurebrands' team, explores the emotional narrative underlying the different facets of men's life in India.
How much have they changed? Is the shift fundamental? Is the shift from a loose limbed body language to the taut, indicative of his taking charge of his destiny? Is stillness and passivity giving way to optimism which knows where it is headed? Will men in India be finally escape what has been the inevitable culmination of their identity?
Over the last year, we conducted photo audits of popular local clothing markets and homes across the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore as well as some small towns. The attempt was to create an extensive image inventory of apparel (women, men and children) and home furnishings from which to decode the underlying ethos of dominant aesthetic preferences in contemporary India.
Through the pictorial narrative that emerged, we studied form, function and detail, the western- traditional codes, as well as the shifts and constants in our cultural aesthetics.
Is there an organizing principle along which our sensibilities are evolving?
The arranged marriage market is a text that reveals much about India's changing social fabric and landscape. It informs us of what lies at the core of our traditions and what forms its pillars, as well as the negotiables and current flavour of the month.
We undertook a content analysis of over 3000 matrimonial ads that featured in major Indian dailies, starting from 1967 to capture ten yearly snapshots of brides and grooms wanted across eras.
Have we changed our expectations over time? What are the rules and codes we have redefined? What remains constant in our search for the perfect other across time?
Homes in India were always about sanskar, auspiciousness and good energies. It was the intangibles and never about the physicality of the house. Modernization, rapid advancement in information systems, increase in awareness, rise in consumer culture, nuclear family structures and the changing Indian woman have changed the meanings that are now attached to the home.
Design & aesthetics have become a big part of home making. It is not merely about showcasing prosperity but also the level of exposure of the family and how well cultivated their taste is.
In an effort to understand the nature of the change, we visited homes of people who described themselves as house proud. Looking at how they had done up their homes and through conversations with them, we attempted to understand the processes, influences behind the forces of modernization.
Some key questions we attempted to unravel were – What has changed and how far have we travelled in this shift? What is the nature of the change in spaces like the kitchen and why have bathrooms changed the most? What are the fantasies and aspirations that are being played out? What is the emergent emotional landscape around the home therefore? And most importantly, what are the opportunities and business implications for brands as a result?