New Delhi, Sep 16 (IANSlife) When the news first spread that in a first in India, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd (ABFRL) has acquired a majority 51 per cent stake in Finesse International Design, better known as couture brand Shantanu and Nikhil (S&N), the industry couldn’t stop talking. The Delhi-based brand is well respected in the world of fashion for its bespoke creations and ceremonial couture.
IANSlife caught up with the duo to a get a better insight into the merger and see what’s in store for the future.
Speaking with Shantanu, we learned that more than calling it an acquisition, a Joint Venture would better describe the union. “This tie-up between ABFRL and S&N is unique. ABFRL has a ginormous manufacturing, warehousing, distribution and sourcing chain that we now get access to and it becomes a business of scale. The idea is to conceive, incubate and create a new brand in the Indian ethnic occasion wear space. This merger will penetrate and focus on that specific segment, and since it is the first of its kind, may be it will set the ball rolling for other industries,” explained designer Shantanu Mehra of brand S&N.
Asked to explain the “business of scale”, Mehra said: “Expand the availability of occasion wear in the affordable luxury segment. Simply said, occasion wear does not target the bride and groom, but guests at a wedding, a puja, a festival or any other event where ethnic clothes and formals are the dress code. The idea is to contemporise and modernise Indian ethnic and traditional wear, which will extend from the mother line and make masculine silhouettes-inspired functional ready-to-wear and contemporary styles for women.”
Would S&N then be competing with a brand like Manyavaar? “No, not exactly. Imagine a pyramid. The bottom of the pyramid is the mass market and the mid market. That is where Manyavaar is and they do ceremonial and occasional wear for the biggest segment, which is 70 per cent of the market. Then comes premium, affordable luxury, super premium, luxury and super luxury at the very top. S&N is in the top super luxury segment, but that is less than 3 per cent of the market. In the middle is some 25 per cent of market space, which has not been tapped into much. That’s affordable luxury and premium segment is what we are looking at. There is many brands here except perhaps a Raymond, which is aesthetically finer, but that’s it. So both ABFRL and us see the opportunity and we want to create a line inspired by our brand and brand India with pride,” said the designer.
Aditya Birla already owns brands such as Louis Philippe, Peter England and Van Heusen. With its backing, S&N expects a big push in the right direction. “We will soon launch an occasion wear and ready-to-wear line across the country. The S&N brand itself will have a scalable version through its flagship stores. The couture line will be scaled up not through retail stores, but with categories and products that are ceremonial in nature. And there will be a clear identification between the two. One is ceremonial wear, while the other is occasion,” he said.
The S&N label has been focusing on India for a while. It has disrupted and regrouped itself over the past four to five years in order to make India a part of its own story and also become a part of India’s growth story. Delving into the country’s rich heritage, the brand has evolved from a product-based platform into a story-telling and experiential brand. In between it has modernised the bandhgala, the Nehru jacket and the Indian silhouettes to create patriotic chic that suits millennial tastes.
Would Mehra then also be keen to reinvent the kurta-pyjama – the dress code of out parliamentarians to something more contemporary? “What politicians chose to wear is what suits their profession. So they should stick to wearing it. We wouldn’t want to give their dress a contemporary look. We would rather do that for people in general, which is what we are focusing on,” said Mehra.
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