A synonym for disruption and innovation, Shantnu & Nikhil, as a design house, has relentlessly revolutionised the millennial ceremonial wardrobe. In an interface, the duo opens up on their bridge-to-luxury label S & N, the impact of their corporate alliance, and the role of the metaverse
Shantnu & Nikhil’s upbeat spunk is embodied by the likes of Janhvi Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Vijay Deverakonda, Kiara Advani, and Kartik Aaryan. Being the signature drape-makers for menswear in the industry, their silhouettes like the draped kurta and draped bandhgala have become chic staples in the menswear market today. Over to the designers.
Aditya Birla Fashion acquired a 51 percent stake in Shantnu & Nikhil two years ago. Are corporate alliances the future of fashion?
The corporatization of Indian fashion has been long overdue, considering the heritage and modernity attached to India’s duality. While we do believe that fashion is incomplete without its blithe side, the corporatization of fashion has brought with it a safety net of sorts that has allowed us to push the
envelope to be more extravagant and a larger creative force than ever. There is a difference in the way a venture capitalist would look at corporatization to how a strategic partner would view it. Underpinned by a long-term vision, ABFRL’s joint venture with Maison Shantnu & Nikhil is purely strategic in nature. As a brand, we have strongly felt that in order to be a global player, it is imperative that we expand the business by scaling new horizons to a more robust corporatized ecosystem where creativity truly meets commerce.
S&N recently announced five new stores across the country. How does this bridge-to-luxury echo the sensibilities of your couture line, Shantnu & Nikhil?
S&N celebrates Indian roots with a hint of millennial spunk. Our products range from our classic shirts to signature drape kurtas and everything in between. While couture is much more detailed and bespoke, S&N has softer nuances of signature Shantnu & Nikhil elements. Leather appliqués, the play of symmetry, clean lines, all of these elements can be seen in S&N. The best part of S&N is that it’s ready to wear, unlike couture.
Do you feel pressured to convey your message to the digital audience, who is used to eye-catching 30-second reels?
Fashion films have away been a very powerful tool for design houses. We rummage through hundreds of properties and examine every setup or production we know before a campaign shoot. For us, reels become a window for a small peek into the expanse of art we create. Reels are also a more convenient way for our patrons to engage with our narrative, and as long as our patrons derive meaning from it, we’ll be experimenting with new ways to tell a story in 30 seconds.
What’s your take on fashion’s embrace of the metaverse?
Metaverse has enabled design houses to tap into their various forms of art, like sketches and archives, which were not an option to be sold or displayed earlier. One of the major advantages of the metaverse is the endless possibilities it offers in a limitless manner. It isn’t restrictive of one’s design values and definitely provides a platform for artists and their needs. To say the least, the digital world empowers designers to run their imaginations wild and explore techniques that they weren’t able to do earlier.
How’s sustainability imperative to your brand? How do you practice it?
Fashion is being looked at as a fraternity of global impact and community for change. We have integrated this shift in our philosophy and are now envisaging a future focusing on art, creativity, sustainable development, and collaborations. We are a part of ABFRL, a conglomerate that is constantly exploring newer opportunities to be more sustainable through our #ReEarth pledge. Furthering our new manifesto, we even launched a one-of-its-kind sustainable initiative ‘The Buy-Back’— a program that allows proud owners of Shantnu & Nikhil couture to exchange their old outfits for credit values that they can use on their next purchase. This not only drives responsible consumerism but also ensures controlled production at our end.
Valentino recently announced their arrival to India with two brand new stores in partnership with Reliance Brands Limited. How’s this influx of global luxury brands going to impact the homegrown Indian luxury space?
The boom of international brands has been a phenomenon due to the corporatisation of the fashion industry in India. It may lead to higher notch of competition, but each designer has a unique selling point that sets them apart, especially when it comes to Indian couture. Post the pandemic, fashion as a commodity, in our opinion, is slowly but surely moving away from extensive fast fashion to sustainable
fashion, which is definitely the new BTL culture, not only in India but around the world. The fact that Indian fashion is also getting corporatised makes the BTL approach more valuable in terms of both scale and marketability. Brand extensions from couturiers such as us ensures funneling of the business of brands from just luxury to bridge-to-luxury. Direct to Consumer (D2C) will emerge as a strong trend, given the muscle digital and the new metaverse world brings to the table. Fashion, as an industry, will become more lucrative, which will further help expand career opportunities for the young workforce in sight.
What are key ceremonial couture essentials for men, according to you?
Men haven’t been adhering to the strict traditional mandate for ceremonies lately. They have been bold in their choices, but there is a key essential like a classic white shirt. A draped kurta and signature waistcoat are something every menswear wardrobe needs. Such pieces help in styling the outfits from day to night or vice versa. We have also seen our patrons steering towards digital prints, metallic detailing, and heavy accessory for their ceremonial wear. In addition, men aren’t far behind in sporting jewels underneath their ensembles these days, and we feel like the trend is here to stay. Millennial grooms aren’t afraid to take risks, and that is reflected by the choice of decadent jewels and brooches they adorn.
Bandanas: Alexander McQueen
Fabric: Organza and jersey
Colour: Military green
Accessory: Neck scarf
(Featured Image: Shantanu and Nikhil)