A graphic T-shirt with blue jeans and canvas lace-ups is Imran Khan’s trademark look. Comfortable and casual in a checked shirt and cotton trousers when we meet him, Khan tells us that his style is a reflection of his personality and passions. But when it comes to films, the actor is open to new experiences, even of the fashion kind. The styling of his character in his latest release, Kunal Kohli’s Break ke Baad, has brought in some changes to his personal style. Shorts and slippers have now found place in the 27-year-old’s wardrobe. Khan spoke to Lounge about his fascination for cartoons, his style icons and what his fiancée has banned him from wearing. Edited excerpts:
How has your sense of style evolved over the years?
My sense of style has not evolved. The way I dress has evolved and is ever evolving. But my style is not about following what is in fashion. I differentiate between style and fashion. Fashion changes. You have people in France telling you what is fashionable. Style, to me, is an expression of your personality through the way you dress. It is very much about showing what and who I am, what my interests are and what I like. Which is why I end up wearing so many comic-book T-shirts—because I love comic books. I also wear a lot of T-shirts of bands like Led Zeppelin and the Beatles because these are bands I love. And some things stay for a long time. I still wear my ties a lot. I have a fairly decent-sized tie collection.
Who are your style icons?
James Dean, Bruce Springsteen and Steve McQueen.
Do you have any fashion obsessions?
Casual notice: Khan loves shopping at small stores rather than big shops that stock brands. (clockwise from above) The actor posed for Lounge before his latest release, Break ke Baad. Converse All Stars canvas shoes and ties andare his obsessions. Ritam Banerjee / Mint; Location: Novotel Hotel/Mumbai
Ties and Converse All Stars canvas shoes are my obsessions. I have Converse shoes in a variety of colours and patterns and various other variations. I must have upwards of 20 pairs of Converse sneakers. And I have in the ballpark of 30-40 ties.
Where do you usually shop?
I tend not to go into the big shops that stock brands. For instance, in Bandra, where I live, you have a lot of these small shops that have stuff from all over the world. They have one-off, interesting and quirky pieces that no one else will have and that you are not going to find anywhere else. Similarly, any time I am abroad, I do not go into a shop that is a brand. So I would not walk into a Gap, but I would walk into one of those individually owned shops where someone has bought stuff that they find interesting. I usually look at the window dressing and if I think something looks cool, I believe I am likely to find something in there that I like. Also my stylist buys a lot of the stuff I wear. The shoes and shirt I am wearing here just turned up at my house. My stylist turns up with 10-12 pairs of clothes and I liked these.
What do you like to wear on formal occasions?
Suits, and with suits I am very classic. I like looking at the way people used to carry suits back in the day. The Beatles really inspired me with their slim, sharp suits. Otherwise you look at the way a lot of old heroes like Steve McQueen and Paul Newman wore their suits, or the way Brad Pitt and George Clooney bring a touch of old-school charm to their contemporary suits. I look at old photos of my granddad. He used to wear suits to work, to set. I am very much into that old-world charm. I get my suits tailored. I have seen Tom Ford’s stuff and really liked it.
Does your personal style influence your look in films?
My styling in films is influenced by my personal style. In Break ke Baad, my character, Abhay, lives in shorts and slippers. Prior to signing the film I did not own a single pair of slippers or shorts. I have not owned shorts since I was a kid. As part of the process of getting into the character of Abhay I started dressing in that way in day to day life. So even when I was not shooting I was wearing shorts and slippers. It gave me a feel and got me into that mind space. I do that. When I am doing a film, I live in that guy’s mind space. I listen to different music and the way I dress also changes. So films influence me quite a bit. Now I have embraced that part of Abhay’s character. It has settled into me.
Celebrities are pulled up for repeating clothes. What do you do with outfits you have worn before?
That is such a ridiculous thing. What are you supposed to do with your clothes? I still wear those clothes again. I just plan. I have a good memory and remember what I wore where. So I remember that when I went for this premiere, event or appearance I had worn this thing. So I know I should not wear it to that kind of event and should wear it for something else.
Do you have any skeletons in your closet?
Yes. I still have some of the old band T-shirts that I am not proud of, like Metallica, etc. Avantika (Malik, his fiancée) does not allow me to wear them but they are still there. They are in the pile of stuff I cannot get rid off.
Won’t you need to clear the skeletons to make space for Malik?
I am building a very large walk-in wardrobe for both of us.
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