As the capital goes through one of its coldest winters, many are discovering the charms of the overcoat, an accessory once consigned to the bottom of cupboards and pulled out only for hilly holidays or snowcapped destinations abroad.
Men are flaunting it with formal suits, women are wearing them with trousers, suits and even saris and young women are readily teaming them up with dresses, long sweaters, jeans and slacks too.
Knee-length and even longer overcoats are selling like hot cakes in the market, with people demanding not just neutral colours like black, beige, grey and brown, but also those in varied bright colours, styles and patterns.
Fashion designer Leena Singh of designer duo Ashima-Leena fame points out that “long overcoats make for a classic silhouette”.
“They were quite popular in the British era and were worn a lot by Queen Elizabeth. But over time the trend has come to India too and people aren’t shying away from it any more,” said Leena.
Kartik Mehra, 55, says he bought an overcoat for an official trip to Europe over 10 years ago and for a long time, he only wore it when he went abroad.
“I used to find it very uncomfortable to walk on Delhi streets in an overcoat. For one, there was no strict, formal corporate dressing concept, and, secondly, it wasn’t as cold as it is now. But now I don’t think twice before taking it out as you can see everyone wearing them,” said Mehra.
The cold waves continued its relentless onslaught in the north. People shivered as temperatures nosedived in all major cities. For Delhi, Sunday was the coldest day in five years, with the maximum temperature at 11 degrees Celsius.
According to sales managers at clothing stores, the demand for overcoats has increased by almost double over the past two years.
“Winters in Delhi have become much colder now, so customers want cosier clothes that save them from the chill. There is a definite growth in the offtake over a period of two years. You can conveniently say it has doubled,” said Amit Nagpal, store manager at BG’s, an apparel store for girls.
Over time the trend of wearing long garments with slim fit trousers and leggings has also grown manifold – fuelling the concept of overcoats. And one is no longer enough for fashion fanatics.
“Overall the market for overcoats has increased by almost 20-30 per cent since the past year as long pullovers are also in these days. Also, people want to have all colours – blue, red, black and others. In patterns, they are going for checks and some even like them with faux fur,” said Anuj Maini, store manager at one of Van Heusen’s outlets.
Among the colours, one can see stores offering a melange of pink, blue, rust, yellow, purple, red, and green.
College student Namita Tiwari, 19, feels the more the colours, the better it is.
“Being a college student, I have to go out every day and considering how cold it is, it will be really bad for my image if I wear the same coat every day even if it is with different sweaters and t-shirts. But if I have three to four different colours and styles, I can experiment and sport a different look every day,” said Tiwari, who was spotted trying on a lime green, woollen overcoat.
For middle-aged working women too, overcoats come in very handy.
“I wear only saris to work and it becomes very tacky and inconvenient to wear a woollen blouse, a sweater and a shawl to keep snug. But one turns out looking neat and formal in an overcoat, it keeps you warm enough and the best part is that it has pockets, the luxury of which is not there in a sari at all! ” quipped Renuka Tandon, a school teacher.
Today, overcoats are available across most local markets as well as stores of homegrown and international brands. They are priced at anything between Rs.2,000 and 15,000.