Designers Shantanu & Nikhil tell us about their new India-forward design philosophy, and why cover star Ranveer Singh pulls off their clothing with such ease.
When did you decide to embrace the concept of androgyny? Is there a social message of gender equality hidden in this decision?
The zeal of constantly challenging ourselves to be disruptive and innovative through a structured design shift has led us to nostalgically present a take on Indian history, through the art of cloth, and come up with a minimalistic modern India culture, symbolising progressivism and distinctiveness. The concept of androgyny was never meant to be a decision taken on our part, it is omnipresent-yet rarely embraced; we just raised the curtains to counter the stereotypical mindset of gender inequality that prevails in our society.
How does India and its rich history inspire your designs?
We have been continually rediscovering our touchpoints of inspiration in the form of Indian history, and our A/W ’17 collection, The Regiment, is a manifestation of our label’s non-conforming stand that pays tribute to India’s history by rejoicing its independence. This collection is all about drawing inspiration from that pre-independence nostalgia and using nuances of the Nehruvian Era to narrate stories that infuse fashion with fortitude in its most contemporary form. Each and every element in the S&N A/W repertoire is a demonstration of that proud sentiment that marvels the virtues of our armed forces. So, each of our collections begin with inquisitively enquiring and critically examining the cultural landscape and rich heritage of India, and then finding ways to be creative within it.
How did you conceptualise the accessories for this collection? Did you look at archival material and use it for inspiration?
We have used some interesting accessory details this season, like embellished shoulder epaulets with tassels and beret caps with medallions. Our recent collaboration with Swarovski has led us to explore the exciting and beautiful world of crystals from a completely new angle. We have used this knowledge with our strong sartorial influences and coalesced it to create unique and innovatively encrusted unisex brooches, which preach our definition of the “anti-trend” trend perfectly to the world.
Who do you see as the quintessential S&N Man?
In the past couple of years, we’ve seen a huge transformation in who the quintessential S&N man really is. After having found his identity as an individualistic, experimental millennial, the tone-on-tone texture and textile is something that he really relates to. When it comes to drapes and asymmetrical shapes, he is a risk taker and not afraid to be innovative. At the end of the day, it’s really all about him- it’s not about being manly, but about those details that he loves and likes to showcase in an understated manner. Finally, the Shantanu & Nikhil man has arrived and is definitely here to stay.
Ranveer Singh is among the current crop of celebrities who often sports your clothing. What is it about him that makes the Regiment collection look great on him?
Ranveer has an extremely dynamic persona and doesn’t cling to traditional ideas of masculinity. The “anti-trend” trend that we showcased in our A/W ’17 collection syncs perfectly with his unconventional style. He is blurring gender lines by opting for non-confirming sartorial choices and has made rigid gender-specific dressing passé with his recent appearances in drapes, which is very inspiring and invigorating to see.