Applying the principles of success to their business, Shantanu and Nikhil are now a force to reckon with, as their ICW metallic sheen embroideries can’t shadow their unmitigated focus and strategized approach to design
By Asmita Aggarwal
The brothers Shantanu and Nikhil Mehra have built an empire even if it took them 20 years to get where they have, their perseverance, making the right choices and always thinking commercial must be applauded. After all, only a few get an opportunity to converge with a conglomerate like ABFRL in 2019, just before the world changed.
There has been no stopping them—- five couture stores across Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad pre-merger, has now become 8 with the addition of three new stores across New Delhi in 2020. Flagship store in Ambavatta, Mehrauli, and fourth S&N store in Gurgaon is in the offing. There has been no looking back, for the two who played it cautiously building a loyal clientele over a period of time with a mix of great service and customer satisfaction.
Their ICW 2021 line, like most of what the ramp this year, has seen is a reflection of thoughts and emotions, intermingled with architecture and travel bringing back a mélange of memories. “During the lockdown, while we were all stuck within the walls of our homes, introspection was with yet another collection. For the future, we need our designers and artists to be fearless which further helps design values evolve. Post-pandemic design has been under the lens of commerce, now more than ever, art needs to be in the fore-front without business pushing it. It has to be more understandable, emotional and sustainable,” says Shantanu.
With civilization forced into the confines of their homes looking for a metaphorical ‘oasis’, the word became an emblem for the duo. It brings back visages for those who need beauty but are deprived of it, glamour to those missing it, power to those feeling helpless. Shot in Suryagarh, Jaisalmer, which has given the collection an anchor, with the dunes and rocky terrain creating a template of resilience with mellow strains making it apt for a modern narrative.
S and N thought like those who had suffered the devastating effects of the pandemic of going anti-trend, they launched bridge-to-luxury celebration-wear brand S&N by Shantanu and Nikhil, accepted the fact that digital is the future, launched an e-commerce website and participated in four phygital fashion weeks making sure their brand presence doesn’t fade.
“We were doing classic runway shows which garnered a large audience and introduced us to a plethora of opportunities and brand visibility. There is a true sense of chaos minutes before the show backstage and we honestly miss that. The adrenaline rush a successful show with loud rounds of applause gives you is unmatchable. Digital platforms take away the look and feel aspect one experiences during a physical show. But going digital democratises fashion because it is more engaging, has a greater audience reach, and is not limited by the size of a runway,” he adds.
Hand embroidery with off-beat materials like patina-leather and metallic embellishments on prints have been used on distressed brocade, silk and organza blend. What’s special is the contrast linings that add a hint of fun, and cityscape-inspired motifs emblematic of global lives. In keeping with the times, there is no overproduction, couture follows a more seasonless, bespoke model, but now they also have limited inventory they share between offline and online retail. There is an understated celebration of artisans and their hand craftsmanship. Thus, the duo has revisited metallic embroidery on architectural prints, goth appliqué, and classic zardozi, to create neo luxe looks.
“We have a sustainable initiative ‘The Buy-Back’, where you can exchange an old Shantanu & Nikhil couture garment for credit values that can be used in their next purchase, this is the only way to ensure a future for the environment,” concludes Nikhil.