Those with a New Age bend in fashion are already aware of and in love with “Shift” and Nimish Shah, the brain behind the label. Known for its clean silhouettes and a minimalist approach to fashion, Shift is a clothing brand for the independent spirit. We met with Nimish over coffee to talk about his vision, approach to sustainability and, of course, skincare.
“When I started Shift in 2011, there was nobody who was making clothes like this. You’d only find cocktail dresses and tacky red-carpet clothing! Avant Garde was the thing then, and minimalism was absent,” Nimish muses. A product design graduate who has worked with international labels like Chloe and Burberry, the seeds for Shift weren’t sown until he presented a show at Lakme Fashion Week, “I was procrastinating away, figuring out what I wanted to do. I was running a multi-brand store and everybody was like ‘You have to do a show’. That was not the plan. But when we did the show, things just took off,” he shares.
Picture:- Mansi Sawant. Link:- http://shift-india.com
Nimish’s vision for Shift has been crystal clear since the beginning, “It started with a clear intention of creating something very less, very basic – more like urban uniforms than fashion products. Something very true to its make and quality-conscious. We didn’t want to be like just another high street brand.” Shift caters to the freelancer and indie spirit – it’s urban workwear for people who don’t follow norms of what defines attire for a business meeting. “Our audience consists of a lot of independent thinkers, artists, entrepreneurs and people who work in modern offices,” says Nimish.
We ask him about making fashion sustainable in an era of peak fast fashion. Nimish explains, “We apply common sense to business. We’re not 100% sustainable – no business is. But, we’re careful where our fabrics come from. It is the way you apply the principle. Say, if you’re making a polyester dress, which is durable and somebody can get maximum wears out of it for many, many years – I think that’s sustainable design. For us, durability is equally important. Cotton and khadi aren’t really durable, so through our clothes we want to make sure that’s taken care of.” Nimish’s idea of sustainability is simple – it’s okay if you’re using fabrics like polyester, as long as you’re using them for longevity. He adds, “Impact of sustainability is seen in consumption. You can buy the most exquisite sustainable woollen shawl. But if you don’t care for it and make it last for a long time, you’ve made an unsustainable choice.”
This is why Shift clothing is priced on the higher side. Nimish tells us, “Our clothes are for people who love what they wear and can do it for years – until it’s in tatters! It’s okay if you don’t shop every week. We want our clothes to be durable, well-loved and well-worn.” What has been Shift’s greatest challenge so far? Nimish shares, “Pricing. India may look poor, but it’s so expensive! In a time like this, our struggle is to keep the cost relevant while justifying the quality.”
Amid fervent discussion about fashion vs sustainability, we prod for insight into Nimish’s skincare routine. “I have the worst skin ever!” he exclaims, “My skin is oily and genetically acne prone. I never took care of it when I was young. But I understand the importance of skincare now.” Does his approach to fashion seep into skincare too? Nimish explains, “My biggest learning has been to not experiment with too many products. It takes about 2 months for skin to show results. Just using the right cleanser and basic products that work for you is enough.” Talking about his routine, he shares, “I start my day with lime water and honey or turmeric and honey or a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar. I also have a lot of green tea throughout the day. In the mornings, I shower and cleanse my face with a Kiehl’s face wash or The Body Shop foam cleanser. Followed by a Kiehl’s moisturiser and sunscreen by Suncote. I repeat the same process at night. For the body, I use Gutti ka Tel from Pahadi Local, which I love! Their Lake Sediment is an amazing cleanser. You can feel your pores clearing! I also use medicated ointments from time to time.”
Are there any special criteria for product selection? “I need instant gratification – either in terms of fragrance or as instant response from my skin,” he quips. We ask Nimish to share some words of wisdom, “I have none! A lot of people advised me and I never listened to any of it!” he laughs.