Best Buddies 2017

Shantanu Mehra and Nikhil Mehra

Despite striking dissimilarities, the Mehra siblings have carved a niche for themselves in the fashion industry

Vishal Koul

As you climb up the staircase from one floor to the other in the factory-cum-workplace of the famous designers, Shantanu Mehra and Nikhil Mehra in Noida, you see an artisan meticulously embroidering a jacket, a designer working out patterns on a Mac, and some naked, and some semi-draped mannequins — making for a perfect designer’s cave. Born and brought up in Delhi, the Mehra siblings are one of India’s leading fashion designers today. Though their brand label reads — Shantanu-Nikhil — in person, they are like chalk and cheese. While elder brother Shantanu is formal and organised, Nikhil is carefree and bohemian. The duo, who launched the brand in 2000, has managed to open seven exclusive stores across five cities. While growing up, they had no inkling that they would be business partners. In fact, due to their extremities, Shantanu even thought of Nikhil as his anti-thesis. Nikhil recounts the contrast between the two. “We used to get our uniform ironed at night.  He used to take out the cleaner uniform and put it on his side of the bed. The dirtier uniform would be next to mine,” he laughs. So, Nikhil looked for ways to look good even without the best dress. “Instead of wearing a dirty shirt, I used to put color on it to make it interesting even when I was in class seven,” recounts Nikhil. The brothers have come a long way since then by dressing up the who’s who of Bollywood from Amitabh Bachchan to Sonam Kapoor, and in doing so have carved a niche for themselves as fashion designers with a difference.