Nimish Shah, Designer, Shift


A peek into what lies ahead for the Vogue India Fashion Fund finalist.

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To say that 2015 has been an incredible year for designer Nimish Shah is a bit of an understatement. Four years into his womenswear label Shift’s inception, he’s found himself a finalist of Vogue India’s Fashion Fund and continues to be an industry favourite. Shah couldn’t be more excited about the months ahead – he chats with me on competition, fashion weeks and what’s next for his label.

On his aesthetic:

“I like to think Shift is synonymous with sophistication, with a touch of vintage chic. I’m often inspired by urban cities,” says Shah. Conservative yet flirtatious, Shah’s aesthetic is feminine with a utilitarian core and while he’s often associated with ethical fashion, he insists that this hasn’t necessarily been a conscious decision. “I guess you could call it a common sense approach to sustainability,” he says. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to make sure that your label is also commercially viable.”

On the Vogue India Fashion Fund:

Shah was the second runner-up of the fashion fund last year, which typically involves inputs on marketing and creative and business mentorship from industry experts. “The entire experience was a bit of an exercise in self reflection,” he says. “It’s a platform which provides you with a strong business perspective. The selection process takes place over four to six months and you’re constantly in the company of other designers, which makes it an interesting space for interaction." The added advantage, of course, is having your work assessed by a jury that has a collective experience of over 150 years in fashion.

On his competition:

Fortunately for Shah, competition isn’t really high on his list of priorities; an influx of new designers in the market hasn’t, as it turns out, diverted any of the attention away from him.

"I've always believed there’s enough to go around for everyone as long as they’re offering sensible creations,” he says. “It’s really all about understanding your customer.”  New labels are exciting because “there’s so much fatigue in the industry, so it’s always great to see new talent – I’m a huge fan of Antar Agni, Bodice, Lovebirds, and brands like Lacquer Embassy and Payal Khandwala.”

On aspiring young designers:

Shah recommends a year of solid planning before starting a business – that’s how long it took him to create a mock collection, get feedback, plan a business model and execute it. "You’ve got to keep the momentum up once you start. There’s no slack time once you’ve put yourself out there. Another way to get a retailer’s perspective is to review your collection with various stores and understand where your label stands.”

On what’s next for Shift:

Shah’s promising collections that are going to be more versatile, and he’s pushing his boundaries to create something that’s unique yet still distinctly him. Expect melon prints, soft pastels and organic, distressed denim, a first for Shah. Fans, he says, have an outdoorsy, festive Shift to look forward to this season.

As told to Akshara Subramanian. Nimish Shah photographed by Shovona Karmakar.

Shop Shift by Nimish Shah here and here


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