No-fuss fashion comes to Bengaluru, courtesy S&N

Designer Shantnu Mehra on the launch of S&N in Bengaluru and the more accessible bridge-to-luxury segment

Updated - August 20, 2022 01:39 pm IST

Published - August 20, 2022 12:25 pm IST

Designer duo Shantnu and Nikhil

Designer duo Shantnu and Nikhil

Over two decades since the brand was launched, Shantnu & Nikhil is finally setting foot in namma ooru to expand their retail presence. The designers behind the eponymous brand have just launched S&N, a bridge-to-luxury label that has found its first Bengaluru home at Phoenix Market City. In September, another store will open at Vittal Mallya Road.

“S&N is nothing but a trickle-down effect of Shantnu & Nikhil,” says one-half of the designer duo, Shantnu Mehra, who was in Bengaluru recently for the store’s launch. Predominantly, S&N is a menswear brand with 70% of the offerings catering to men, with the remaining for womenswear and solutions through accessories, respectively.

If the mother brand is all about ceremonial wear, S&N keeps it celebratory. “There’s a sense of contemporary ethnicity meeting Indo-Western influences. Celebration wear is not restricted to weddings. It could be for anything — a birthday, anniversary or board meeting,” says Shantnu of the new label, which was launched in 2020 in Delhi.

Known to be famously anti-trend in their designs, the brothers adopt the same policy in the conceptualisation of S&N as a label as well. Calling the bridge-to-luxury segment unchartered territory in India, Shantnu believes that while most international brands have set a ground rule on what bridge-to-luxury is, no Indian designer has been able to touch that sweet spot, till date. “It’s either right at the tip of the fashion food chain with couture or it becomes too mass market. Nothing sits in the belly,” he adds.

And that is exactly what S&N aims to capture. For instance, the statement shirts they retail, start at ₹8,000. The prices may be watered down compared to the mother brand (price on request) but the in-store experience, Shantnu promises, is not. “The Shantnu & Nikhil lineage still comes through the interiors with the gold, grey, dark hues and matte colour palette. Our sales frontrunners are more like stylists giving you solutions — what brooch will go with a shirt, footwear that works for you, which colours mix and match well, and so on.”

While the design ethos has stayed constant, the business side of things has seen some change. In 2019, Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail (ABFRL) acquired a stake in Shantnu & Nikhil, which then gave the brand “wings to fly” with a stronger supply chain for sourcing, manufacturing and distribution. The one thing the designers were sure of in this partnership? Design before commerce, always. “There is no loss of creative freedom, In fact, we got the opportunity to incubate better ideas.”

To begin with, S&N introduces a different market segment for the brand to tap into. Besides brick-and-mortar stores, a direct-to-consumer digital channel exists too. While the mother brand focuses on ceremonial wear, S&N offers something to attendees — be it at weddings or parties — with a collection of statement shirts, signature drape kurtas, evening jackets, draped waistcoats, sherwanis, saree gowns, corset tops and so on.

The couture brand too is undergoing a revamp in some stores, where the model is becoming more hybrid, housing both S&N and the mother brand under one roof. Also on the drawing board? Hybrid stores in Dubai, London and New York.

Within India, S&N, which currently has eight outlets, will see another five this year, including Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Raipur, Jodhpur and Delhi NCR. 2023 would see expansion in tier-II cities as well. Online, the brand is looking to start worldwide shipping from August 15.

Over two decades strong, the brand is charging straight ahead, already laying the seeds for the next crop of patrons — Gen Z. “Millennials are the largest spenders, but you can’t ignore the Gen-Z vibe. Some of our shoots and campaigns focus on them because at some point, they will become millennials and the inclusion has to start somewhere.”

Perhaps S&N launching in Bengaluru is also a part of this incubation to invite more customers towards the brand. “In Delhi or Mumbai, fashion is larger than life, but Bengaluru gives you a cool vibe,” says Shantnu, explaining why they never opened their flagship couture store here before. “Expensive product consumption, especially fashion and clothing, are not the dynamics of this city. Which is why S&N can make the right noise here. It’s minimalistic, easy to wear and it’s fashion without being fussy.”

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