The Indian man’s quest for fashionable clothes has intrigued designer duo Shantanu and Nikhil, who have decided to dedicate nearly 70% of their collections to men while also keeping their designs gender fluid. Hot on the heels of their casual-wear brand Shantnu Nikhil Cricket Club, the couturier brothers went on a spree to open stores across the country, from the one that’s nestled in a 133-year-old building in Mumbai’s Kala Ghoda to their most recent one in Chandigarh. They have a total of 16 stores in India.
“We are tapping into the aspirational value of people residing in tier-2 cities and have flung open our doors to the people of Ahmedabad and Raipur, where we have a pop-up franchisee,” says Shantanu. The brand, he says, has designed outfits for brides and grooms from Chandigarh and many districts in Punjab, including Jalandhar and Amritsar. “People would come to Delhi to get their outfits, so we realised there’s demand for our brand,” he adds.
The duo claims to have travelled the length and breadth of the country to decipher factors that influence people’s drive for fashion, especially men. “Men usually do not have many options to choose from when it comes to evening clothes where Indian heritage meets spunk; our shirts do that,” says Nikhil. Though the brand does not show plus sizes on its display shelves, Nikhil assures that there is room for customisation. “We do not want anyone to turn their backs on our store and though plus sizes have not been displayed on the racks, we take orders for any design you like from our collections at all our stores,” he adds.
The brand houses its collections Glam risqué, Jewels of Nawab, SNCC Second Edition, Tempt, Aces of Fall, Dune, Glow, Dawn, Clandestine and the recently-launched Tribe at all its stores. “Tribe features tribal prints and clothes in earthy colours. The designs range from gowns, corsets, satin blouses and skirts. Apart from silk and satin, we have polyester blends made with four-way wicking technique to make them odourless. There’s military influence and an architectural element in our prints,” says Nikhil.
The 23-year-old brand, known for being anti-trend, is now in the process of crafting fabrics that are specific to the Indian weather. “I, along with my team of five people, travelled 5,000 kilometres in 11 days to Shanghai, Xibu, Guangzhou, visited factories that have patents of their own fabric and are eager to work with designers to create specific counts and constructions for India. India has a different climate. It needs its own fabric. We are developing different counts and constructions, like cotton that resembles mulmul,” says Nikhil. Shantanu adds, “For every trend there has to be an anti-trend. When we stepped into the world of fashion 23 years ago, everything was overtly traditional. We are now looking at a space where India fits contemporary fashion while reflecting the sartorial narrative of its rich history.”
The collections at Shantnu & Nikhil store starts at ₹8,000.