Like Second Skin
The dapper designer duo is “selling confidence, not fancy bathing suits”. Shivan liked illustrating women in skimpy clothes, Narresh liked to paint with bold colours. Together they became the popular, and India’s first and only designer swimwear brand Shivan & Narresh. “Modest with cut and bold with a sense of colour” is their brand philosophy and they like to believe that it reflects the country’s cultural roots. Indian women are not built like European women, so it’s understood that they need a swimwear line that is made for their body type.
1. Based on the Indian consumer’s psychology, customisation has been key from the onset of Shivan & Narresh’s designs. They believe that in India, the consumers are spoilt for choice and there is a strong expectation to be able to custom-create something.
2. While in the West, women are forgiving of their bodies, in India women have for years hidden their bodies behind layers of clothing and with just a single layer, women begin to feel naked. There is a great deal of self-confidence involved in including a bathing suit in an Indian woman’s wardrobe.
3. You wear a bathing suit for yourself, not your friends – if you don’t love how you look in the mirror, you won’t buy it. So customisation has to be a part of their business plan to be sustainable.
4. Customisation within the ready-to-wear category gives risk-averse customers a chance to graduate into more evolved buyers, giving them the comfort zone to mature.
1. Ready-to-wear with micro-customisation via either colour or style.
Using a current available style as the base, you can add things like more coverage in the back, make the neck deeper, add straps, pads and underwires within the same style. Colour blocking, a trademark of the brand’s designs helps shift focus areas of the body away from weaker areas. Colour creates a mirage, and diagonal lines help the torso look slender.
It can be done online on www.shivanandnarresh.com or at a local store retailing their brand or at a pop-up in your city. (See upcoming city schedules below.)
There is a 20% customisation fee.
2. Their Handcraft service.
This is a one-of-a-kind piece, which will be only for you. You take an appointment with either designer (both may also be present) where they will take your measurements. A body suit (like a cat suit) will be made as per your measurements. You wear that and either designer sketches on the body suit in front of the mirror. You can guide them about what kind of a piece you would like and how this should be done. Then you sit with colour swatches and different quality of fabrics. You can choose from thin fabrics, experiencing something as light as second skin. Later the designers split open the bodysuit on the lines drawn, in mosaic puzzle pieces, using these pieces to make the pattern which comes back together like a glove. It becomes a perfect fit. Essentially in this case, everything is possible – it’s the purest form of body art. They say that they are the only swimwear brand in the world that practices this.
The process takes 4-6 weeks and involves 2-3 personalisation sittings.
It costs minimum 10 times the cost of a regular bathing suit.
Each region has a different demand and all metros have customised swimsuits workshops. This also gives the designers insights into what works for different cities. For instance, in Bombay, where the emphasis is on healthier living, trikinis (one-piece with cutouts) and baring skin in the front are acceptable. In Delhi, where the purchases are lifestyle centric, they are experimental about the backs but not the fronts. Tier 2 cities, where there is great fashion hunger, are very experimental and accept the skimpiest of pieces.
Tentative pop-up schedule:
04 April: Bangalore
11th April: New Delhi
15th April: Chennai
18th April: Ahmedabad & Honeymoon Service at TAJ New Delhi
23rd-24th April: Mumbai
28th-29th April: Hyderabad
12th May: Surat
19th May: Mumbai
“I’ve actually had a couple of pieces designed by the duo. Bespoke products to me signify true luxury. Swimwear is one of those items of clothing where the fit and cut can make a world of a difference. The bespoke experience was addictive as I was advised on how to make my shoulders stand out, legs look longer and which colour combinations would work best on my skin. The other nice part is being able to make a couple of pieces that can be mixed, matched and layered to make different outfits for different occasions which comes in handy for a destination wedding or beach getaway. I’ve been utterly spoilt and can’t imagine having to buy swimwear off the rack!” – Amruda Nair, The Leela Hotels
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