Uncomplicated fashion comes to Bangalore, courtesy of S&N

Uncomplicated fashion comes to Bangalore, courtesy of S&N

Designer Shantnu Mehra on the S&N launch in Bangalore and the most accessible segment of the bridge to luxury

Designer Shantnu Mehra on the S&N launch in Bangalore and the most accessible segment of the bridge to luxury

More than two decades since the brand was launched, Shantnu & Nikhil is finally setting foot in namma ooru to expand your retail presence. The designers behind the eponymous brand have just launched S&N, a luxury bridging brand that has found its first home in Bangalore in Phoenix Market City. In September, another store will open on Vittal Mallya Road.

“S&N is nothing more than a drip effect of Shantnu & Nikhil,” says one half of the design duo, Shantnu Mehra, who was in Bangalore recently for the store’s launch. Predominantly, S&N is a menswear brand with 70% of offerings targeting men, and the rest for womenswear and solutions through accessories, respectively.

If the parent brand is all about ceremonial wear, S&N keeps it festive. “There is a sense of contemporary ethnicity meeting Indo-Western influences. Celebration clothing is not limited to weddings. It could be for anything: a birthday, an anniversary or a board meeting,” Shantnu says of the new label, which was launched in 2020 in Delhi.

Known for being famous for being anti-trend in their designs, the brothers also adopt the same policy in conceptualizing S&N as a label. Shantnu considers the bridge to luxury segment to be uncharted territory in India and believes that while most international brands have established a ground rule of what the bridge to luxury is, no Indian designer has been able to hit that sweet spot to date. “It’s right at the top of the fashion food chain with haute couture or it becomes too mass market. Nothing sits in the belly,” he adds.

And that is exactly what S&N aims to capture. For example, flashy t-shirts that retail start at ₹8,000. Prices may be lower compared to the parent brand (price on request), but the in-store experience, Shantnu promises, is not. “The Shantnu & Nikhil lineage still appears in the interiors with the gold, gray, dark and matte color palette. Our sales leaders are more like stylists who provide you with solutions: what brooch will go with a shirt, shoes that fit well, what colors work well, etc.

While the design ethos has remained constant, the business side of things has seen some changes. In 2019, Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail (ABFRL) acquired a stake in Shantnu & Nikhil, giving the brand “wings to fly” with a stronger supply chain for sourcing, manufacturing and distribution. What were the designers sure of in this association? Design before trade, always. “There is no loss of creative freedom. In fact, we have the opportunity to incubate better ideas.”

To begin with, S&N introduces a different market segment that the brand can access. In addition to physical stores, there is also a direct-to-consumer digital channel. While the parent brand focuses on ceremonial attire, S&N offers something for attendees, whether at weddings or parties, with a collection of statement shirts, signature draped kurtas, evening jackets, draped vests, sherwanis, sari dresses, corsets etc

The couture brand is also undergoing a revamp in some stores, where the model is becoming more of a hybrid, housing both S&N and the parent brand under one roof. Also on the drawing board? Hybrid stores in Dubai, London and New York.

Within India, S&N, which currently has eight outlets, will see a further five this year, including Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Raipur, Jodhpur and Delhi NCR. 2023 would also see an expansion in Tier II cities. Online, the brand is looking to start worldwide shipping from August 15.

With more than two decades of strength, the brand is moving forward and is already laying the groundwork for the next generation of customers: Gen Z. “Millennials are the biggest spenders, but you can’t ignore the Gen Z vibe. Some of our sessions and campaigns focus on them because they will become millennials at some point and inclusion has to start somewhere.”

Perhaps the launch of S&N in Bangalore is also part of this incubation to invite more customers to the brand. “In Delhi or Mumbai, fashion is larger than life, but Bangalore gives you a cool vibe,” says Shantnu, explaining why they’ve never opened their haute couture flagship store here before. “The consumption of expensive products, especially fashion and clothing, are not the dynamics of this city. That’s why S&N can make the right noise here. It’s minimalist, easy to use and fashionable without being fussy.”

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