I have been a huge admirer of Suman and been wearing her creations since the time I started working. We had gone to Suman’s for the lingerie bit of Birpurush. And, we saw these clothes hanging which we hadn’t seen before. Then she told me about Khyati. I was completely floored by her white collection. This is very me! Non-fussy, in cotton and flowy. You can style them in a variety of ways. The clothes are not busy. I have never been so excited with clothes. My favourites from the t2 shoot are the layered embroidered summer dress (picture left) and the skirt and
off-white top combination (picture below). I am feeling very proud of Khyati!
She is a second-generation designer who has known her calling forever. Khyati Nathvani, sleepwear and resort wear designer Suman Nathwani’s daughter, is now the boss of Suman Nathwani Resort by Khyati. t2 caught up with the mother-daughter duo over pizza at Fabbrica Della Pizza on Allenby Road.
So Khyati, a fashion label was always in the offing, right?
Khyati: Ever since I was what? (looks at Suman)… three years old? She was working from home at that time… from my grandparents’ house…
Suman: She was one-and-a-half!
Khyati: A toddler with an inch tape around my neck…. I had learnt the word ‘come’. I would take them to the room and say, ‘Wait… mamma coming!’ (Laughs)
Suman: She grew up surrounded by my clothes.
Khyati: During summer holidays, my pastime was actually making doll clothes out of the leftovers… if it was a birthday, I would make a birthday dress for her, if it was a swimming costume, I would cut it out for her.
And, it came naturally to you?
Khyati: Yes! It was basically imitating my mother at every step.
Suman: I always wanted Khyati to be very stylish. I was not at all fashionable!
Khyati: I was one of the most well-dressed kids… I am very comfortable in my pyjamas because of the heat, but, the moment I am in my pyjamas, she will be like… ‘Go, change!’ I was either Miss India or Miss Universe during fancy-dress contests. (Laughs)
Suman: Khyati was very good in her art and craft classes. I still have those papers… sketches with colour… with prints… she was 13-14….
Khyati with mom Suman at Fabbrica Della Pizza. Pictures: Pabitra Das
Khyati: It’s still with you?
Suman: From Class VII, I knew she was going to pursue her career in this, but in Class X when we came to know that she had topped ICSE and ISC in fine arts...
Khyati:... They wanted me to become an artist after that! I was like, ‘That is not happening!’ I had studied fine arts for another reason altogether. My drawing classes were my outlet... venting out my emotions.... They did not even know I had applied to NIFT (Delhi)! (Laughs) I studied fashion designing. Mom was very happy...
Suman:… Not at all!
Khyati: Oh! (Smiles)
Suman: I told her, ‘Look at your clothes! How will you be a stylist?!’ She had become so jhalli!
Khyati: I was like, I’ll show you what I can be! Dad (Dharam) was very annoyed!
Suman: Till now...
Khyati: He wants me to have an art room... I have not been painting for a while now...
Do you miss it?
But that’s always going to be your pastime...
Khyati: Yeah, never a profession.
Why didn’t you venture out separately?
Khyati: I thought about this label — Suman Nathwani Resort by Khyati — in college. We had this particular subject where we had to make a business plan. I realised that in India particularly, there is no label which has gone from the mother to the daughter... a lot of people have started their own parallel brands. I wanted this to become a fashion house. I thought there is so much competition already… I already had the backing of a fashion house... plus, I have got my creative spark from her. So she needs to be there. This is where it all started.
What if you thought of something very different in terms of aesthetics? How are you aesthetically different or similar to your mom?
Khyati: I just didn’t! This came naturally. It’s taken me two years to convince my parents about this label’s name...
Suman: We asked her why not start your own label, but she was always very sorted.
Khyati: It’s really funny how we are not different at all... May be a few places...
Suman: We share the love for hand embroidery.
Khyati: I am not prim and proper when I am walking or talking, but when I make my clothes, that entire prim and properness surfaces.
Suman: I am waiting for her luxury nightwear and couture line... gowns, seductive necklines, seductive back designs.... (Laughs)
Suman, you were already doing resort...
Suman: Mine has got a different flavour….
Khyati: I badgered her to start with resort. Lingerie and sleepwear came to me naturally. I did that while I was in school also... custom-make my nightwear... I would also get orders! All my friends wanted nightwear.
Suman: Also, I am more into luxury nightwear. I pick Khyati’s brains for Suman Nathwani Young too. The idea was to collaborate.
Khyati, you have started with...
Khyati: Lounge dresses, summery pastel shades, a lot of whites... prints and embroidery... I am using a couple of handloom fabrics but it’s mostly in cotton, cotton silks.… I love playing with cuts. These are great for brunches, holidays, college wear... anywhere actually. I wear them to office. I rolled out my collection last April.
Is this also your personal style?
Khyati: Yes! Absolutely! That’s the reason you will only find me in my clothes, now!
Suman, you have learnt it on your own really. What have you told Khyati?
Suman: Be grounded and rooted. I have also told her to understand the Indian body and never to blindly follow forecasts. Respect your clients. She also has to try different things. I have also told her to be patient...
Khyati: I am practising to be patient! I get bored very quickly! That’s been the case with my artwork also.
Suman: That she cannot do with fashion! I had told her she has to work with other houses to start with. Suman Nathwani is there. It’s 30 years old. She has to respect that.
Khyati: That is the biggest challenge for me.
And, she is not your mom at work, right?
Suman: I am her biggest critic.
Khyati: She thrashes me left, right and centre!
Khyati, does Suman have the first right to wear whatever you make?
Khyati: Of course!
Suman: When she is not there, I head straight to the master! (Laughs)
Khyati: She is like, ‘I am not asking you for the rent or the electricity cost, so who’s going to pay me?! Make my clothes!’ She has more outfits of mine than I have today.
What are the disadvantages of having your mom as your boss?
Khyati: The only disadvantage is that there is no difference between my personal life and professional life. We are always working, even on a holiday!
How involved is Suman in the conceptualising bit?
Khyati: A lot! I do not finalise an outfit until she approves it. I feel more confident if she says a yes. I cannot do without her. I am scared of her feedback! We are preparing for Amazon (Amazon India Fashion Week; spring/summer 18) now. I have taken three months to get something out. My mom kept rejecting! She knows me more than anybody else and knows the capacity to which she can push me.
Khyati, do you remember the first piece you sold?
Khyati: I was there when we sold it! After I got my first big order, I started to pay my karigars.
Suman: Initially, she was like, ‘Am I designing something wrong?’ We asked her to be patient. I told her I have waited for two months to sell my one nightwear.
Khyati: Swastika (Mukherjee) was the first one to tell me she loves my whites. That’s what gave me the boost that I am not going wrong. Before this there were doubts. She has been a great help in polishing me. I have done Birpurush for her.
So, what’s the plan?
Khyati: There are so many different categories to cover in resort. I am also planning to start Indian resort, probably a sari which is like a dress, you slip it on. The sensibility is mine, but I am just experimenting with the Indian silhouettes.
Suman: Eventually, I want to hand over everything to Khyati and go for long vacations wearing her clothes!
Who: Khyati Nathvani
Draws a salary of: Rs 20,000 as the creative head of Suman Nathwani
Find her at: The Suman Nathwani flagship store at 5 Sardar Shankar Road (behind Lake Mall)
Studied at: Hopetown Girls’ School (Dehradun) and NIFT (Delhi)
Loves: The beach and wants to get married on one
Makes: Feminine clothes, but is a tomboy inside
Interned with: Amit Aggarwal. ‘The amount I learned in two months is crazy!’ she says