March 27, 2015 Asmita Aggarwal

Revisiting Bengal

Kevin Nigli of A & T discusses the importance of brand identity and reinventing the wheel as autumn will be a celebration of Bengal’s heady crafts

By Asmita Aggarwal


He will joke with you and say that he is the squiggle ‘&’ in Abraham and Thakore, but beneath this self-effacing demeanour is a sharp mind that Kevin Nigli will often mask with his quirky humour. A Kolkata boy, who studied B.Com in the famed St Xavier’s and was the second graduating batch from NIFT, Delhi, says his growing up with three sisters helped shape his ideas about fashion and it also remains the reason why he gravitated towards it. In the 80s he saw women at home going with design books to tailors and soon he was more than willing to help with ‘inputs’.


“I belong to an academic family where my sister is a Ph.D. in genetics; my parents almost collapsed when they heard about my fervent dreams of becoming a ‘darzi’, as they called it. You had to be either a doctor or an engineer and I was interested in neither,” he chortles. Staring off with David Abraham, in the 90s, making sequinned dresses for an American company it was a big shift to the organic, natural philosophy that the label is known for today. “I think when a label ages its biggest challenge is to able to maintain its brand identity, without falling into the trap of becoming a generic label; and reinventing every season without losing what we have been upholding. So suddenly you won’t see an onslaught of lycra and stretch being incorporated,” he explains.

That’s why for Aut-winter 2015, the trio have embarked on a journey to Bengal and have taken traditional techniques and tweaked them, the A & T way. So whether it is kantha, Jamdani, patchwork or cotton everything has been ‘intellectualised’ (by David Abraham) as Kevin says, with a grin, to infuse invigorating flavours. “But they are still easy, softer clothes, with less structure more comfort and layering as winter is only severe in the North so no heavy overcoats, rather there is quilting to court volume. In monochromes with a slight usage of nylon tikkis and polyester pinstripes,” he explains.


Each year, it is one region that they focus on, last time it was Assam with Muga and Ahimsa silk as their muse, this time, the conventional embroidery forms get a twist, in a palette that ranges from ivories, browns, plums and deepest blacks. “We believe in practical clothes which you can wear in any season, we don’t woo nylon and polyester as that’s not part of the brand’s DNA much like we don’t do marriage outfits(only for Penguin’s Chiki Sarkar we made a handloom sari with a studded blouse for her wedding), but we do understand that weaves are a luxury, and they must be given that status,” he confides. Reimagining the dupatta, tunic and pants, basic silhouettes, this autumn will add a new leaf to the book of A & T.


Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fashion Design Council of India