Designer duo Shivan & Narresh have single-handedly changed the narrative around resort wear in India. From championing size-inclusivity to introducing the concept of vacation-dressing, they have carved a luxe niche for themselves. In an exclusive conversation with ELLE India, they discuss their latest IconoScape Series, revamp of ski ensembles and the intelligent infusion of sustainable fibres through an intricate interplay of craftsmanship.
ELLE: What inspired the IconoScape Series? Tell us more about the story behind the five prints.
Narresh: The inspiration for the IconoScape Series comes from being at home during the lockdown and also, from the only trip we took to Jaisalmer at that time. Hence almost three out of the five prints revisit our personal memoirs and travel stories of the Golden City. The other two prints reminisce the joy of finding comfort at home, within our personal space and everyday surroundings. For example, Shivan’s time spent with plants in nurturing them has given life to the BotanEye print, it showcases whimsical elements of leaves, hands and eyes – that is symbolic of caring, holding and looking after those leaves. Another print – Jaiscape, was inspired by a photo I had clicked from the top of the Jaisalmer Fort, which visualizes the hustle-bustle of the city life underneath. Thus, these were the kind of stories that served as inspiration for developing each of these prints.
Shivan: From its very inception, our brand has always stood for all possible holiday lifestyles – ranging from swim, resort and cruise to safari and ski. However, this philosophy became even more important for us during the Pandemic as we felt a strong need for escapism and all kinds of escapism. Thus, more than ever, compared to all our previous offerings, in this collection one can really see a distinct division of 5 unique holiday lifestyles, represented by each animal icon in the Shivan & Narresh iconogram logo.
ELLE: This year, Ski is taking centre stage, tell us more about that.
Shivan: This year, we are redefining Ski for our connoisseurs because of many reasons. While it was already an integral part of our expansion plan – the ski culture catching up in India and amongst our discerning consumers, it felt like a natural progression. Also, the way we are reimagining it is through our iconic prints that will add the right vibrancy required in the world of Ski. We wanted to bring to life an interplay of diverse patterns, prints, textures and colour through the language of art, that will eventually spark the right conversation and curiosity towards a renewed affinity for Ski holiday lifestyle in India.
ELLE: Could you expand on the fabrics used and the introduction of Julin.
Narresh: The collection brings to light the interplay of tactile elements, focusing on fine craftsmanship, hand-woven textures and delicate fabrics such as mesh cotton and silk knits and fine wool that feel great against the skin. For Swim apparel, multiple curvilinear lines have been created with the help of acrylic to illuminate and outline the natural body silhouette. In this collection, for the first time, we have utilized and reinvented the indigenous homegrown fabric – Jute. Softened and woven to almost feel like linen, making it extremely light and breathable and in pristine white, a colour that is rarely seen in Jute. Thus, we are excited to bring to our audience a refreshing new fabric – JULIN that has been technologically developed especially for this series and is made from 100% organic fibres of the traditional ‘Bora’ Jute that is otherwise used as sacks for packaging, storage, etc.
ELLE: Tell us more about the delicate knitwear detailing that you have featured in the collection.
Shivan & Narresh: This collection comprises a large variety of delicate knits and interestingly done knits. For example, we have used an eight gauge machine but have put extremely thin silk yarns, so what comes out as the end product is a beautiful fine mesh knit which is soft and sheer. Thus, this time a lot of intricate mesh has been created out of the knits, which is not very common to see in knit apparel. The knit offerings this time are additionally a step forward for us in closing the loop on the sustainability cycle, as we go from yarn to product. We are proud to have created our own products, starting from the grass-roots level by directly sourcing all indigenous yarns from across the country, Eg. silk yarns from Bangalore, woollen yarns from Punjab, and so on.
ELLE: Your brand has played an important role in redefining resort wear in India, how would you say the Indian consumer’s attitude towards investing in a vacation wardrobe has evolved?
Shivan & Narresh: Ready-to-wear has never been a more relevant topic of conversation than in the past few years. When we think of it, the first category that comes to mind is resort wear. The fact that we have a tropical climate and are essentially a resort friendly country, the clothes that we end up wearing on a daily basis seamlessly fit what we know as pret in the industry. While Resort is no longer a niche category anymore, it is definitely a mainstream offering for every brand in the Indian Industry for long-term survival, as they can no longer rely only on the bridal business for core consumption. The demographic today has completely changed. Consumers spend very differently as their mindset towards fashion has evolved to a more practical approach of investment rather than seasonal keepsakes. Through these years, we have seen numerous women go on holidays and share images of themselves on social media, gracefully owning their swimsuit looks, something that was once, considered almost a taboo in the Indian fashion community. These were images that were always hushed and kept on the down-low, away from the public domain, but that spell has now been broken. Whether they are celebrities, digital influencers or real-life women – each one is out there and that brings us great joy and motivation.
ELLE: What is your vision for resort wear in India?
Shivan: Resort wear in India is bound to become the gateway for global brands to emerge from the sub-continent in the near future because this is the only logical category that Indian ready to wear brands can offer coming out of our country. Thus, it is safe to say Resort wear is the ultimate ready-to-wear fashion in India.
Image courtesy: Shivan & Narresh