The Nehru jacket gained popularity and significance during the days of the Raj and the name was coined after Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru who was an integral part of the Indian independence movement, and later became the first Prime Minister of India. The feature that distinguishes this jacket from a normal suit jacket is its “bandh “collar, which was originally a part of court dressing in northern India. Read More »
This collar is a band, stand-up collar while the waistcoat or jacket has a button closure up until the collar. It is a hip-length tailored waistcoat for men, with its structure modelled around the Achkan and could also be considered a variation of the Jodhpur jacket. It was predominantly made of Khadi fabric during 1940’s India. Unlike the achkan, which falls somewhere close to the knees, the Nehru jacket is shorter in length and more commonly described as a men’s waistcoat, nowadays.
The oddest part about the word “Nehru” attached with it is that Nehru did not patronise the evolved waistcoat styling but in fact he wore the more traditional silhouette version of it which was the achkan that caught on with this trend name, later given to this designer Nehru jacket. Until that time the Nehru jacket was known as 'band gale Ica coat', which means 'closed neck coat.' The jacket began to be marketed as the Nehru jacket in Europe and America in the mid-1960s. Its popularity was further spurred and the jacket reappeared in James Bond movies, it was patronised by the aspirational classes in society, by the minimalism of the Mod lifestyle and became an instant rage when worn by music bands like the Beatles and subsequently the Monkees.
The other silhouettes and variations and common names for this waistcoat are Sadri and Bandi which is a sleeveless-vest jacket, traditionally worn over an angarkha, qameez or kurta by men. Historically these were worn by the masses, decorated with various styles of folk embroidery for festive occasions. It is now part of everyday dressing for men and has gained popularity among the political class throughout India, in a big way. It is hard to state the exact time when the origins of the Nehru jacket came into existence. India was invaded several times by foreign intruders, and each intrusion had a cultural impact on the Indian lifestyle. However, it can be believed that the first garment that resembled the Nehru jacket evolved sometime around the 10th century.
These garments were not jackets; instead, they were worn as shirts, more like inner garments worn under some other sort of full length coats. However, it could be a possibility that these inner shirts eventually evolved into becoming the Nehru jacket. These shirts were initially collarless and buttonless, and were fastened with the help of strings or threads attached to them with an extra layer of fabric that overlapped in the front, like a double breasted jacket. After the Muslim rulers came to India, long shirts with tunic collars appeared. These knee length shirts resembled modern nightshirts, and were called ‘Kurta’. Kurtas were cut quite loose, since they were meant to be comfortable. In keeping with the Indian climate, these shirts were mostly made from hand woven cotton or Silk and for colder climate the same concept was recreated into the waistcoat that over the years has been over kurta and shirt like silhouettes. Brand RR has reimagined their version of this jacket calling it the Bandh gala waistcoat and given a signature appeal. This designer Nehru jacket is a wardrobe essential and is an integral part of the brands’ product offering and an absolute favourite amongst its customers.