The Ace Minimalist: An interview with Indian designer Nimish Shah

I recently attended an elaborate extravaganza in the teeming city of Mumbai. At this star-studded event, on display was a fashion crowd dressed to the nines. Amongst all the smoldering sequins and swishing fringes – a simple white smock dress caught my eye in the dim light. It’s wearer, Pernia Quereshi, a fashion entrepreneur gushed “It’s Shift, by Nimish”. These are the type of women Nimish Shah designs his clothes for. His garments have the simplicity and freshness of a summer breeze but his muses are no wallflowers. They are women of depth, originality, and unconventional tastes.

Nimish Shah
Nimish Shah


As an alumnus of the prestigious London College of Fashion, Nimish began his label in 2011. His label is characterized by modern silhouettes with a sophisticated charm. There is a great amount of focus on detailing as he uses a variety of organic fabrics as a step towards sustainable fashion. Nimish has previously worked at luxury giants such as Burberry and Chloé. We catch up with him to discuss his latest collection, the release of his first fashion film and all the fervor that comes along.

Could you elaborate on the concept behind your Summer/Resort 2015 collection?

This summer transitional collection features a travel wardrobe comprising versatile separates easy to pack, maintain and excite. Midi’s with low cut arm holes, column dresses, peasant tops, revisited tunics make it extremely easy and the proportions add novelty. Couture worthy attention to detail is seen in garment cut, dainty slips and details. It’s all very charming, functional and fluid. I have used light fabrics such as linens, cotton-silks across khadi, and organic cottons. The color palette consists of matt pastels like ash, sky blue, & lavender.

Shift ss 2015    Shift ss 2015  Shift ss 2015

How would you describe the ‘Shift Woman’?

The Shift woman is jauntily artsy; an eclectic vision of vintage chic with a certain sense of grown-up. She is not trendy and her tastes are fairly archetypal but always average plus. Our summer campaign features Waluscha De Sousa who captures essence of the brand and spirit of the collection with a cool and chic attitude. Shot in nature she embraces the scorching summer sun; the unkempt girl next-door hair, her enigmatic gaze creates a private poetry. The dynamic series captures cinematic movement and a spirit of exploration/travel and quintessence of the “Shift Woman”.

shift ss 2015  shift ss 2015   shift ss 2015

You have launched an extremely poetic fashion film. Tell us a little about the making of it.

We wanted to highlight the spirit of the brand. A certain sense of arrived, mature and yet demure. Somebody lady-like, conservative by choice, and a free spirit in head and practice. The inspiration was summer travel – a soulful lady going on a holiday some place nice with empty thoughts. She is a lonesome wanderer (if not literally then in her head). We all feel one is alone at some point on a holiday even within a group, since you change your daily pattern and also get time for self reflection. The film almost captures that moment of self refection, the smile it brings on your face even when no one is watching – a beautiful monologue (in your head).

Waluscha De Sousa is the face of your latest campaign. Tell us why you picked her as your muse.
To begin with it’s because she is absolutely beautiful and flawless. She has a story on her face – it allows someone to read, but there are barriers. It is exactly the person I mentioned above. She can be just about intimidating while being the girl next door. She has a something that everyone can relate to in some odd way.

shift ss 2015
Waluscha De Sousa for Shift


During your stint at Chloé, what major design elements have you been inspired by that are depicted in your own collections?

Pockets in dresses – the most valuable lesson I have learned. They are such blessings! Of course my love affair with feminine shapes and fabrics began there. They are so challenging in construction – almost like stitching air, and the end result – the girl who wears it can tell. It’s a good change from our urban wardrobes, which are so extreme.

What is one aesthetic element that you like to keep as a constant through all your collections?
Classic separates. The fact is that I still love my older designs and think they are still relevant. The fact that you can wear a certain dress whenever. There is a fair amount of vintage hangover – again with relevance and not as costume.

What are five wardrobe essentials every woman should possess?
Slips of all sorts, blouses, perfect fitting trousers, which are difficult to find, a classic jacket and a great bag.

You have always picked a minimalist approach for your designs. What is one accessory that you feel goes well with a Shift ensemble?
A great cross shoulder bag of a medium size. A belt in black or tan is also a great accompaniment. Box heel shoes and fantastic flats definitely complete the look.

Shift ss 2015 shift ss 2015  shift ss 2015

Name an accessory you are currently lusting after.
Belts & Shoes from Acne studios and a vintage Rolex wristwatch.

What’s one piece of career advice you’d like to give to budding design hopefuls out there?
Don’t do it for the money. Or do it only for money. All other compromises are not very rewarding.


Written by: Tanya Mehta

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