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It took more than a year for O Mohanan, founder and chairman of G Sons Group, to come up with a brand name for the high-end silk shirts they started manufacturing in 1998.

After long sessions of brainstorming at their unit in the small town of Kannur in North Kerala, Mohan and his team came up with a sophisticated ‘Dennis Morton’. Mohan’s daughter Manjusha Mohan, executive director of the men’s apparel brand, who became part of the board three years ago, clarifies that it is not Hollywood-inspired, but just meant to be catchy. The name works though. “Quite frankly, I first picked up their shirt from a store, thinking it was an imported one,” says actor Rahman, the brand’s ambassador, before walking the ramp in a silver waistcoat and black kurta pajama, at the launch of Dennis Morton’s new range of premium men’s silk shirts in the city, at Taj Club House on Monday.

Besides the name with a desi disconnect, the shirts are as indigenous as they can get. Around 300 employees in their manufacturing unit in Kerala bring out 1000 silk shirts from scratch every day. Not all are the plain silk ones that elders in the family pull out from their wardrobes during festive occasions; the collection includes those that can be paired with a tuxedo, casual denims or formal trousers, says Manjusha.

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A fashion show choreographed by Karun Raman had young tattooed men with puffs of unruly hair strut the ramp in shiny pink, orange, violet and grey shirts, and denims. In the background ran popular party numbers like ‘Lean on’ and ‘Cheerleader’ by Omi, as opposed to the nadaswaram and thavil that one associates silk with. “We want to target the youth. We have already launched this collection for youngsters in Kerala and it is doing pretty well,” says Manjusha. “We want silk to go beyond sophisticated wear to something that men can slip into every day. To make it appeal to youngsters, we have included small twists in the conventional designs,” she adds.

Slim-fit silk shirts with mandarin collars, textured fabric with a tinge of linen and jute, embroidered designs and handloom cotton patches are some of the experiments that have turned out to be a hit among the customers. “We are already popular among the older generation, as most opt for a silk shirt matching the borders on their veshti; now, we want to expand to other age groups, keeping the respect for silk intact,” she says.

The brand already has its claws dug deep in the Kerala market, besides the Middle East. Now, Dennis Morton, which has designed outfits for most of the Malayalam actors, including big actors like Mammootty (in Hitler), is now expanding beyond God’s own country to Tamil Nadu and the North.

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