Discover fashion designer Nikhil Thampi’s secrets to buying all the right things. By Nirja Dutt
Designer extraordinaire Nikhil Thampi has quintessentially preached classics, but what makes him unique? His twist on them. His separates—formal or casual—always seem to have fun with cuts, construction and draping. From a very early age he was drawn to the creative side. So, when it came to choosing a career, he knew he wanted to work with something he could have fun with. “I was working in my family’s aviation business for two years, but things just took a turn for the better when one of my childhood friends asked me to help him with his debut collection for Lakmé Fashion Week—I loved every minute of it. The world of fashion was too contagious and I wanted to be a part of it more and more everyday. I asked my father to give me one year and I’ve never looked back since. I still feel like I’m living the dream,” says Thampi.
What does a consumer look for when they are shopping for designer wear?
People are constantly enamoured by originality. It is something that has always appealed to them. But on the job, I realised that not everyone shares the same vision as you. So for them, a balance between something creative with a commercial outlook really works. When it comes to Indian wear, the consumer always plays it extremely safe. As for western wear, people are more forthcoming and excited to experiment. Luckily for us, this is where we come in and give them the quintessential classic silhouette with a twist. And that’s what the consumer appreciates from us.
What do you look for when you go shopping?
I am not a very experimental dresser myself. So when I go shopping, I always look for something that is versatile enough to go from home to an evening out with my friends, to an event and more. And that is something I maintain for my label as well. We work on pieces that can be taken from day to night, all in classic silhouettes, with an experimental touch.
What are you currently excited about and looking forward to?
Our latest spring summer collection called Semi Colon just came out after a break of three long years, so we are busy with its production. It was very well received and touted the best of the season, so I’m definitely excited about that and a few collaborations that will make us more of a house-hold name.
THAMPI’S FAVOURITE HOTSPOTS
Where would you buy a new pair of sunglasses?
I always do plenty of research online before buying a pair, and I feel that more than a store, it’s the label that makes the sunglasses unique. My favourites are Mykita and St. Bernard. So I choose my holiday destinations according to where these are available!
What defines a perfect pair of sunglasses?
I am very lucky to have a big oval face that supports most shapes of sunglasses, but oversized styles suit me best. So I would say big sunglasses are always perfect.
Where do you shop for clothes?
I love vintage markets, so no matter where I am—London, Paris, or Florence—I always look for streets that house these stores and local in-bred brands. I steer clear from the big fashion labels when I am overseas, and mostly look for local brands.
Your favourite spot for accessories?
Italy and Italian brands are best for accessories for men. The bags, leather, shoes, all always work. Their clean aesthetic and high quality is unparalleled.
Three buys you will never forget?
My Mulberry bag—it’s like second skin to me, I can’t function without it. My Mykita sunglasses, I never leave home without those. And a Tom Ford suit I had bought long ago. I can never let go of these three.
Your most prized possession?
My grandfather’s Rolex watch. And it belonged to his father back in the day, so I don’t even know how old it is! But have only mustered the courage to wear it once. So it has immense emotional value.
One place that offers the best bargains?
Flea markets and street shops. I strongly recommend spending a day in these markets when you are overseas—they open up a whole new world!
An overrated shopping destination?
Milan. Somehow, I have never had a good experience shopping there.