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Lingerie designer Suman Nathwani reminisces how she began designing luxe lingerie when it was unconventional — and how she established the brand against all odds. Her mission: To create sensuous albeit comfortable lingerie for the Indian woman. In conversation with her!


Suman, you were interested in designing lingerie at a young age. What inspired you?

I was an avid reader. Like any other teenager, I read Mills and Boon and instantly fell in love with the entire set up. When I imagined lingerie, that is how I thought a woman should look while going to bed with her beloved. My journey as a lingerie designer begun in 1988 when nobody knew how to pronounce the word or its meaning! It was forbidden to talk about lingerie but every bride wanted something of that sort. So, in no time, I was popular amongst young brides as I was selling them a dream!!


Do share with us what drives you to just design intimate wear?

It has been a passion forever now. I have always been in love with the idea of romance and this was something that got me close to it. I'm proud I brought in the revolution of stirring feminity. A sense of practicality helped me to establish the label against all odds and I learnt the basics from my masters which in turn developed my design sensibility. Today, I have diversified my line to include resort and swim wear too.


What are the hottest selling trends today?

The hot sellers among brides is a long gown with short nightwear; and coordinated, satin top and shorts. Otherwise, night-suits or pyjama suits are the new thing in the market.


Are Indian women investing in luxury lingerie for daily wear or is still bridal- trousseau ?

Yes, indeed they are! Or I would not have survived in the business till today!! There are few women who believe in being dressed in comfortable, luxurious lingerie and sleepwear — and that is why they still look up to me for their daily wear nightwear too. Not just trousseau. Yes, the younger generation has a mind of its own and I have brides who come in, aware of the importance of luxurious bridal nightwear.


You have spent years crafting lingerie so if I asked you to pick one style to represent your design aesthetic... how would you respond?

My motto while creating lingerie is that it should not only look beautiful but feel comfortable. Comfort is the biggest factor for me and therefore my main focus is on the kind of fabrics I use.


Lingerie can be seen as empowering for women and as catering to the male gaze. What purpose do you think lingerie serves? Who is lingerie for?

You have rightly quoted it. Lingerie is definitely a personal choice and empowers women but it also caters to the male gaze. I would say lingerie is something very personal between men and women; it is a bond of intimacy. Lingerie is for everyone who believes in comfort and intimacy.


With the industry's inclusion of 'normal' 'plus-size' models, what is your stance on body diversity in lingerie?

I have never tagged bigger sizes as plus—size. By doing so, it was stereotyping a body type. It does not matter to me what body type a women was. My ultimate goal is to make a woman look beautiful, any size or shape.


How should one care for luxury lingerie?

One should always hand wash the pieces delicately and not treat it like outer wear, since the fabrics used for intimate wear is much more delicate  One should use it cautiously because it's second skin, something which is in contact with one's skin. It should be skin friendly and clean.


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