October 16, 2023 FDCI

Right Strokes

Swimwear mavericks, and now ski wear experts, Shivan and Narresh offer us a glimpse of Finland through their specially crafted prints combined with hand painting.

By Asmita Aggarwal

Narresh grew up in Delhi, and coming from a business family where his father made industrial fasteners, he admits he gets the creative impetus from his mother—a painter, and artist, who used to design her own clothes. And when he met Shivan, the Kanpur boy in NIFT, life took an amazing turn. From winning almost all the in-house and international competitions, to amalgamating their skill set, the duo has achieved a lot more than what they set out to do. Narresh is a maverick at print maker, being an accomplished graphic designer, and for the last almost two decades, this has been his forte.

Interestingly, it was his dad, who pushed him to study fashion design at NIFT even though his heart was in communication design, though this education only helped him. Shivan is a brilliant illustrator, he studied leather design, and was extremely clued into what is happening in the style scape. Narresh, on the other hand, is an introvert, making them a perfect team.

   

This season it is their trip to Finland that finds a heady inspiration for LFW 2023. “Any inspiration has no rule book, it sets you free, and that is what happens to us when we go on a holiday. But once you are back, you sit on the designing table, some things stand out. Earlier it has been museums and art, currently it is our spring holiday,” says Narresh, who has an astute understanding of colours and their offbeat combinations.

A relationship which has lasted for 17 years, Narresh and Shivan feel being the first swimwear designers in India, it was interesting to understand the Indian body and personify it. In a largely wedding-driven market, that fashion was reduced to, the duo thought of reversing “external validation” to “self-love”. “You won’t step out in a bikini, if you are not confident, it celebrates the beautiful relationship that you have with yourself,” he admits.

   

They are masters of visual vocabulary and the design ethos is not restrictive, swimwear as a genre can sell anywhere in the world. “When you are on the beach, no one cares about your ethnicity, Western, Latin, Indian, South African at al…. everyone wants to feel and look good, Resort has a universal language,” he adds.

Igniting a cultural conversation, with swimwear, they began material exploration by buying old sewing machines which were becoming redundant to knit and craft a new language avoiding the mechanized processes. Swimwear is all about knits, they introduced UV ray resistant, anti-crush and crease, stain resistant…as everything they offered needed to be functional. “We did a third couture show recently, and knitted our own yarns, India is the largest producer of knits, and you have them everywhere, but what they lack is originality,” he explains.

Surface embellishment began in 2014, but they knew it had to be travel-friendly thus came  Skein work, removing the oft misused word embroideries. “It is water-resistant, doesn’t tarnish over time, is light to travel with, one-tenth of the weight,” he says. The beauty is everything is made in India, even though most of almost all the swimwear in the world is manufactured in Sri Lanka. The brand’s jerseys are from Italy, this is combined with natural silks and cotton, and the duo promise it will last as long as you desire.

   

LFW 2023 has prints developed reflecting the Northern Lights, and the aerial view of the ski town they saw through a chopper ride. “Since college we have both loved to travel, we are two diverse people with different personalities but this is something we both enjoy tremendously,” he laughs. Few know that Finland started and developed the sauna culture, often considered a sacred space, a journey that began 2,000 years ago for the Finnish, and continues till today offering inner peace in the chaos of life.

Though careful watchers will notice the hand painting on garments, after they have been printed, for LFW. Offering ski, swim, resort, cruise to safari, the brand makes sure your holidays are both fashionable and comfortable, but when they began in 2010, little did they predict that beach towns across the world would be happy to wear Indian designers. “I think I have accomplished what I set out to do, but I still aspire to expand globally and reach more people with a small travel bag and lots of space in their cameras,” he concludes.

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