EXCLUSIVE: Shantanu & Nikhil on clocking 20 years in fashion, working on differences, trends they love & more

In an exclusive chat, ace designer duo Shantanu and Nikhil talk about how far they've come, their done-to-death copies, and more.

Updated on Mar 20, 2021  |  08:13 PM IST |  411.5K
EXCLUSIVE: Shantanu & Nikhil on clocking 20 years in fashion, working on differences, trends they love & more
EXCLUSIVE: Shantanu & Nikhil on clocking 20 years in fashion, working on differences, trends they love & more

With a long lineage of outfits that have wone the hearts of not just popular personalities including actors and cricketers, Shantanu and Nikhil Mehra's contemporary creations are a favourite among fashionistas and fashion critics alike. While Nikhil has a masters in Fashion, his brother Shantanu has one in Finance! Poles apart, the brothers launched their line 20 years ago and have come a long way since.
In a tete-a-tete with the duo, we talk about their differences, trends that are overdone and how they manage to reinvent their brand.
You have completed 20 years in the industry, how would you describe your journey so far?
Shantanu: Over the last few years, we have restlessly toiled around the idea of a new world, a world more progressive and inclusive, a world without any biases and boundaries. In this past decade on our journey, we have paved the way to reach a newer and bigger audience, making us more accessible, and thereby fulfilling our dream to see our brand on every global Indian.
2020 has been a year of ardent emotions for us, as Maison Shantanu & Nikhil celebrates 20 years of its brand existence, while the world recoiled to a new definition of normal, we brought in the 20th year with a new chapter in our journey - S&N by Shantanu and Nikhil, a celebratory narrative where Indian heritage is enlivened by millennial spunk!

How do you manage to keep reinventing yourselves as a brand and as designers?
Shantanu: The deep-seated emotion of being ‘Anti-trend’ within our brand gives us a sense of elasticity to continuously reinvent. Being trend-centric is market-driven but being anti-trend is about driving the market & that is our philosophy. We believe that disruption and innovation are the only two pillars that we as a brand stand on from creating an unconventional space for Couture, revolutionising the male ceremonial wardrobe and to now carving out a new repertoire- 
Do you ever have disagreements? How do you manage to get past it?
Shantanu: Of course! Disagreements and agreements are a part and parcel of your growth trajectory as every small disagreement leads us to push the envelope further. The larger vision, however, has always been about creating an impactful brand and that’s where we arrive at the end.

Nikhil: There may be some disagreements but the finality of it all is the brand. Our points of disagreements have always had a healthy form to them as we have diverse roles and believe in each other’s space & leadership. We might be yin and yang but we both have a sound understanding of each other’s vision of what the brand is to be.


Which among you is more laid back and who is the over-achiever?
Shantanu: We always strive for achievement and aim to be disruptors in the business. We still feel there’s a lot there for us yet to achieve. Achievement cannot be taken for granted; we both certainly have had many overachieving moments through our journey, but I think our time has only just arrived. With the young, urban millennia now opening to embracing Indian heritage, the market is now more ready than it ever was for our Anti-trend emotion of India.
Nikhil: Laidback is not a word that fits in the ecosystem of Shantanu & Nikhil at all! We work tirelessly with the team. There is no time for being laid back in the business that we are, it is so fast-paced and so cutthroat that you just must keep going & creating newness.
What's one fashion trend we should all be looking out for this year?
Nikhil: I would say Indian celebration-wear making its way to street fashion.


A fashion trend you feel is over-rated or done to death?
Nikhil: Copying of the Shantanu & Nikhil drape kurta by the mass market! It is done to death, really. Haha!

A Bollywood muse you haven't seen in your creations yet but would love to dress up in the future?
Nikhil: The new young Bollywood brigade, the likes of Ibrahim Ali Khan, Aditya Seal and Alaya F. They are the unchartered voice of millennials of today & the embodiment of S&N in its truest sense, would love to clad them up in S&N by Shantanu & Nikhil.
With fashion weeks going digital and fashion shows collaborating, what according to you is the future of fashion?
Shantanu: The curtailment on movement cast light on the power of the digital space & e-commerce and its plausibility to become the central sale driver for luxury brands. Moreover, Fashion, now more than ever 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.
Nikhil: The post-pandemic landscape has left us reimagining newer ways to collaborate within the industry. We for one believe that fraternity collaboration is the future & what better than the fraternity’s two gigantic players like FDCI & LFW coming together for a unique ‘phygital' fashion week. This not only sets a precedent for the fashion weeks to come but opens up the market to newer & better opportunities.


Tell us about the collection you are showcasing this fashion week: your inspirations, creative process...
The collection draws inspiration from millennial musings on the move, adding an exhilarating hint to one’s luxury getaway wardrobe featuring unique design details for both men and women. Earthy tones, unconventional silhouettes and signature S&N attributes like off-beat details and bold drapes take the center stage in a calming mélange of safari-chic styles. From asymmetric kurtas and cropped jacket shirts for women; to open-cut sherwani’s and structured shirts with Nehruvian details for men, SNSafari is a fun gamut of ultra-modern styles.
Given the global sore that still grips us to an extent, for this collection we wanted to focus on a more uplifting storytelling- one that offers a sense of aspirational escape and transcends these current breaks to a place more tranquil yet spirited.

ALSO READ: ALSO READ: FDCI x LFW Day 2 Roundup: From Ritu Kumar to Cocccon, the day was all about quirky prints and sustainability

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About The Author
Sneha Kalra
Sneha Kalra
Fashion Writer

Sneha Kalra is a dedicated writer with a sharp focus on the world of fashion. Armed with a


Credits: shantanu and nikhil instagram

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