People often refer to them as brothers, but little do they know that Debarghya Bairagi and Navonil Das can be easily identified as partners in crime for their love for fashion that fueled more than a decade ago. They originally hail from the enigmatic city of Calcutta that has rich influences for fine art and heritage fashion. Over the years, they have expanded their horizon and brought about a charismatic appeal to a distinctive style of handwoven fabrics, color combinations and print patterns. Over a flourishing career of an eponymous label, the 'Boys of Bengal' are only seeking to explore the horizons of fashion philosophy.
Vibrant prints brought to life in relaxed yet stylish silhouettes for uber chic.1. Which year and when did the label 'Dev R Nil' form? Our label officially began in the year 2004. We have just completed 15 years of our label. People have always questioned us whether we are brothers but we are actually childhood friends. We happened to meet and had a lot of similar thoughts and ideas that further gave birth to our label. Dev was a fresh fashion graduate at the time and I (Nil) had just finished my course in Australia. We were four people who had come together in a small garage in the middle of a garden. Today we have about 100 people who are managing the label. We had learnt a lot of things on the job. We stood, we fell and we know now what it takes. Our simple dream back then was to create a niche in the Indian fashion market, which was quite a struggle back then. We decided to focus our energy on prints on daily wear and occasion wear in silhouettes that are practical and easy. Our signature look has emerged with prints and patterns over the years and has inspired us to reinvent ourselves every season. Our ultimate goal was to create classic looks that could be worn even 10 years later.
A sneak peak of a floral embroidred jacket that can easily be worn over a dress or perhaps a sari.2. What has been your biggest challenge as a designer? To maintain a balance between creativity and business. At the time, we saw labels shut down which was scary and we realized that this profession cant be handled as a hobby. There are so many people involved in the ecosystem of sustaining fashion from the printers to the weavers and to maintain the connection is the end result of our products. The challenge is constant and we try to balance everything out season after season to create quality clothing. At that time, people didn’t understand quality much but as time grew, people’s perception also changed. 3. What is your favorite part of being a designer? To fulfill dreams of looks that people visualize. And to meet people of design – chefs, artists etc who have travel often to meet people. Its interesting when we can interact with other people who can relate to us. As designers, we do not limit ourselves and we continuously draw inspiration from others. 4. Every woman must own... Classic accessories in black, silver, gold and beige in infinite options is something all women must possess. A beautiful hand woven sari is also a must. 5. Every man must own.... In the Indian context, a bandi, bandhgala and kurtas in different colors and textures is something that every must must have in his wardrobe. 6. Can one wear a printed sari or a gown while attending a wedding? Yes you can definitely wear prints to a wedding, it all really depends on how one styles their outfit. One can combine a printed sari with a solid turtleneck blouse that can be a good complementary combination. Make a statement according to what suits you rater than something that is fashionable. I have always believed that ‘Clothes are an extension of one’s personality’ and you must wear who you are rather than vice versa. It is important as designers that we bridge this gap somewhere where visual language is concerned.
The designer duo pose for photographs alongside Devangi Nishar & Dia Mirza at the launch of their festive collection at Aza, Bandra.7. Your fondest memory at Aza. We were absolutely excited at our recent promo of our latest collection at the Aza Bandra store. It was so great to connect with the audience and also be in an atmosphere that spoke largely about our culture – everything from the music to the people and the clothes. Aza has been tremendously supportive through all these years in helping us grow. 8. What is happening next for your label? We are actually making a comeback at the next Lakme Fashion Week Summer/Resort which is special to us since we are showcasing after many years in Mumbai. 9. Besides designing menswear & womenswear, have you thought of exploring your signature prints further from here? Yes, we have a library of prints that can be further explored. We are planning on launching a kids wear line sometime in the near future. Curtains and upholstery is also something that has always intrigued us. 10. Indian and international designers you admire for their work of art. Yohji Yamamoti, a Tokyo based designer internationally and Anamika Khanna in the Indian fraternity, who also happens to be from our city. 11. What character does a person wearing 'Dev R Nil' have? An explorer who has a sense of their own style. She or he is opinionated, assertive in nature and has an eye for detail. 12. Advice for the new generation of fashion designers. Don’t get easily drawn into the glamour of the industry, because in reality it is a tougher world out there. 13. Prints are a perennial trend. How can one transition a versatile piece season after season? Learning to combine different prints with solid colors and accessories is an easy trick to transcend a look. If you have a lot of statement separates, it becomes a whole lot easier to play around with a look. You can always interpret an outfit for individuality. 14. A silhouette that was popular in 2016 and is most likely to remain a hit in 2017. Shirt dress has been seen a lot in the last few years and can be combined with tights or can be worn with just accessories like a slim belt.