Military uniform has long inspired fashion trends across the globe that can be found everywhere from high street retailers to haute couture. Military tailoring isn’t a new concept, but can this otherwise Western trend be reimagined to encompass the more traditional styles of South Asia?

As part of Winchester Fashion Week 2021, a fashion student from Kingston School of Art, Alexander Bowyer, has drawn inspiration from a collection of uniform and traditional Nepali garments to form a western-inspired menswear concept collection of his own.

The exhibition featured sketches, concept boards and a final garment produced by Alexander Bowyer, showcased alongside a range of historic uniform from the Museum’s reserve collection.

Introduction – Alexander Bowyer

Going into this project I knew very little about Nepalese and Gurkha culture, but I was familiar with Military uniform and the everlasting presence it has in fashion and tailoring. As I develop my own studio practice, I look to push traditional tailoring and menswear……

I started my research by looking at the history of the Gurkhas and different ethnic groups of Nepal. Along with archival garments from the Gurkha Museum I created observational sketches to study specific design features. Combining these studies with my research on Nepali traditional dress and fusing my personal style of minimalistic and fashion forward tailoring I started to create initial designs.

Moving into design development of a collection I was drawing heavy influence from the interplay between traditional Nepalese garments and the introduction of Western tailoring seen in the cities in the 20th century. Various Gurkha uniforms also informed silhouette, fastenings, lapels and pockets. Using the archival material I started to attribute fabrication and colourways to designed looks.

The outcome of this project was a 6 look collection combining all that I had learnt from Nepalese clothing and Gurkha culture and my own interest in fashion forward tailoring.

I chose to make a few of the looks including a brown twill weave notch collar suit with double breasted overlay and tie. This design was inspired by Nepal’s national dress: the daura suruwal. The second jacket I made was based on Gurkha ceremonial dress with draped sashes inspired by the shoulder belt.

Design Sketches

Photos of the Exhibition

© The Gurkha Museum Trust Winchester - Registered Charity Number 1169920 (formerly 272426)