As one half of the duo behind the label Shantanu & Nikhil, designer Nikhil Mehra is well-known in fashion circles (and beyond). His brand’s signature drapes and modern approach to traditional silhouettes are popular with aesthetes and celebrities alike. But it is the dapper Mr. Mehra’s spiffy personal style — effortless, classic and cool — that often has him topping best-dressed lists. He gives Lifestyle Asia a little peek into his sensibility.
How would you describe your approach to fashion and style?
I look at fashion and style as an extension of all my experiences. To me, fashion is not just mere clothing it is an expression of self and what I am feeling. Style is an intrinsic attitude that is developed over time, especially influenced by my travels. My choice of colour palettes, textures and silhouettes is ever-evolving.
How has this idea evolved over time?
I feel ‘evolving’ is directly co-related to awareness. In a profession like mine where one is constantly learning, deriving inspiration from the offbeat and creating newness; my idea of fashion and style is rather transient. While I have always essentially been a minimalist, my taste has evolved over the past few years as I have become more aware and informed about the world, global fashion and my own design sensibilities.
What sort of aesthetic do you bend towards?
Minimalistic with very subtle details. Clean lines, structure and slight experimentation with drapes.
Your three top style rules that have worked for you?
1. Don’t overdo it.
2. Don’t let a trend overpower your personal style.
3. Keep it classic.
Whose style are you most influenced by and why?
I have always loved Alexander McQueen’s work. His fierceness, how he empowered his women, and the way he used his history and lineage in his storytelling and design philosophy have all lent elements and emotion to my personal sense of style.
For someone looking to discover their style, what are your words of advice?
First, make a list of things you don’t like and then play around with just the things you love. Always go with your gut! While it’s excellent to experiment, do not get carried away with a trend that you are unsure of. Use fashion and style as a means to empower yourself.
What are the building blocks of a good wardrobe?
A pair of well-tailored trousers, an evening jacket and definitely a draped kurta from Shantanu & Nikhil!
Sustainability is a big topic of conversation these days. Is there an approach you have adopted towards this?
I believe sustainability comes from an idea of saving; it cannot be ingrained, it is every little choice you make as an individual. As a designer, it is something my brand stands for too. We consider the impact we create on the society and environment. In fact, we have introduced new initiative — ‘The Buy Back’, that aims at creating a circular ecosystem with our consumers by allowing them to exchange their old Shantanu & Nikhil outfits for credit values that they can use on their next purchase. By taking accountability as fraternity leaders, we want to focus on not only responsible production but also drive responsible consumerism.
Stores and e-commerce sites you shop from?
Your favourite pieces in your wardrobe?
An oversized women’s jacket that I found at a vintage shop in Montmartre years ago, my classic white Nehru-collar shirt from S&N, and every unlined jacket I own.
Do you think style and fashion play a larger role in today’s world?
That really depends on the world you’ve made for yourself. Having said that, fashion is definitely more relevant now as people have become more aware of the impact it can create in tandem with the digital world. From body positivity and inclusivity to sustainable development goals, fashion has become a key community to drive global change.
When it comes to your fashion choices, is there something that you are looking to change over time?
I am working on becoming a more responsible fashion consumer. I am also incorporating tailored, timeless pieces over high-street and fast fashion in my wardrobe.