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Where subtlety is the new bling

A model displays a creation -Photo: Nagara Gopal  

HYDERABAD: Fashion has a new address at Road No. 10 in Banjara Hills. Designers Shantanu and Nikhil who launched their first flagship store in the city look dapper in their suits as they walk around posing for photographs. As they settle down for a chat, they mention their 16-year-journey (The brand was launched in 2000). While Shantanu shares, “Commerce is good; art is getting there,” Nikhil points out their main focus has been to build the label. “If there is no art, there is no artistic value to the brand and there could never be any money in it. The primary objective is to make sure that the brand is relevant. It has a signature of what the world or India resonates to. We have been successful, to a certain extent, in breaking the stereotype of what occasional wear in India means. I think we have been fearless in that perspective. We have never taken the vintage India out from our designs. You will always see the love for Nehruvian collar being alive, tweaked a little bit.”

At a time when India was known for its love for embroidery and colours, Shantanu and Nikhil carved a niche with their subtlety and remained a ‘less is more’ brand. “There is a love for embroidery and colours, but that’s only one side of India. The other side wants to keep it subtle. A silhouette can be defined by how the sari is draped. We try to bring in different nuances and influences of the sari drape. We sort of gave the technique even in our gowns. That is how we continue to evolve and make India look good, sound good,” explains Nikhil and quips, “It is a tough journey when you are doing less is more; there is a lot more that goes into making sure that the details surrounding it are aesthetically done. That is a challenge we keep on facing.”

Nikhil is also vocal in questioning the need for several fashion weeks. “Fashion has seen a radical shift in the last seven or eight years. I am not much in favour of the abundance of fashion weeks happening across the country. It sort of gives a fresh perspective of what the new talent offers, but it is always a very crowded space. And, in such a space it is tough to figure out what the right talent is. I feel that fashion is something that should have more quality and less quantity. There’s too much focus on fashion weeks and the media hype but we forget that the same design talent is nowhere to be seen other than the fashion weeks.” He observes how a strong public-private partnership can bring in a change in the scenario.

Shantanu and Nikhil affirm that social media keeps them connected to young India. “Fifty six percent of our Twitter clientèle is in the age group of 24 and 34. We focus on them because in the next year or two, they will get married and will need us,” laughs Shantanu and adds, “We connect our brand to the young because we can relate to them not just at the clothing level but at the mental level as well.”

The future, they conclude, belongs to men’s wear. Personally, they want to tap Chennai, Dubai and other international cities.

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Printable version | May 5, 2021 2:11:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Where-subtlety-is-the-new-bling/article16091723.ece

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