Small World

The Winter Look of the Common Man

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How the ill-fitting Monte Carlo sweater of Arvind Kejriwal could make a potent fashion statement
On the eve of Arvind Kejriwal’s landslide victory, a Ludhiana-based company posted on its social network site a photo of the AAP chief wearing a maroon coloured Monte Carlo sweater. Many would fondly remember the brand as a rite of passage in an era when big fashion brands hadn’t come in and Monte Carlo was looked upon as a status symbol.

For years, the brand owned by the Nahar Group of Companies showed in its advertisements exotic European locations and beautiful models. It made young men and women growing up in India’s B-towns put Casablanca on their bucket list. Not many knew the brand wasn’t foreign.

The politics of fashion is about image and communication. Kejriwal doesn’t wear the white kurta-pyjama and Nehru jacket—the staple choice of Indian politicians. He has often been described as wearing ill-fitting Monte Carlo sweaters with a muffler that has spawned memes like ‘Mufflerman Returns’. But the art of projecting oneself is a subtle one for politicians. The Kejriwal look doesn’t just identify with the common man, it exudes a sense of nostalgia, an underestimated force. Our fathers and uncles wore Monte Carlo sweaters and reminded us of simpler days in a pre-globalised world.

For the brand, which started out selling ‘aspiration’ and then lost out to others in the market, Kejriwal’s endorsement means a lot. Mayank Jain, head of communication, Monte Carlo, says, “There are a number of leaders and politicians who wear our sweaters. Even when Obama was here, the Defence Minister was wearing Monte Carlo. Even Arun Jaitley wears our sweaters. It is aam aadmi. Even the service class can afford it.” The brand’s range of woollens starts from Rs 800. Not that Kejriwal will be Monte Carlo’s poster boy, but it is still an opportunity to get the aam aadmi back in vogue.