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At the convergence of Fashion, Culture, and Art

Nikita Shah is a multidisciplinary artist at the convergence of fashion, art, and culture. Nikita’s soul’s calling is to help the world rediscover the hand-painted temple art of Kalamkari and its rich 3,000-year-old heritage currently only practiced in Sri Kalahasti, India. Each piece of Kalamkari has a deep meaning. Nikita interprets the root of this traditional textile and narrates modern-day activism of gender identity, mental health, geopolitics, and home through clothing. 

Birth of a Brand: Untitle by Nikita
A textile expert with a vision to tell the story of Kalamkari and honor its heritage through her work, in 2021 Nikita developed her slow fashion brand untitle as her love letter to humanity and the Earth. Through untitle, she supports the human connection and amplifies the lives, stories, and deeper meaning that clothing can express.

Her eco-conscious commitment is unwavering, by upcycling memorial clothing and dead stock textiles sourced from artisans in India and giving them a new lease on life in the world of fashion. She also features the work of Kalamkari artisans in her studio and in her work while diligently supporting the artisan’s journey toward building a sustainable business and fair compensation for their work.

 

In addition to incorporating Kalamkari in her work, Nikita also teaches Kalamkari and textile workshops. She has collaborated with New York Textile Month, the Agaati Foundation in San Francisco, Pike Place Market in Seattle, and the Indian Institute of Technology. 

Why Untitle: Going Beyond Conventional Labels

The name “untitle by nikita” strikes a deep chord with Nikita, inspired by her fascination with art that is simply named “Untitled” in museums. She loves how each person can experience a piece of art without labels or preconceived notions—it’s completely open to interpretation for each person to discover their own meaning.

 

She invokes the practice of art in the philosophy of clothes. She approaches life believing each person is a canvas of self-expression, allowing for gender fluidity, inclusivity, and breaking free from predefined norms. Her brand embodies the notion that everyone should have the power to be their authentic self without judgment or context.

The Soulful Expression of Kalamkari

The ancient Kalamkari art form allowed artists to tell stories, evoke emotions, and share cultural heritage using textiles as the artist’s canvas. Each stroke of the kalam forms part of a story, each pigment has meaning, and each motif has reverence. Kalamkari involves a meticulous 23-step process with hand-drawn painting using a handcrafted bamboo pen and natural dyes. A Kalamkari panel can take between three weeks and six months to create.

Nikita cultivated her connection with this medium for over a decade at the heart of India under the mentorship of Mamata Reddy. With all her experiences and a strong connection to heritage, art, and fashion, she carries the lineage of Kalamkari in the United States. The only Kalamkari practioner in the US, Nikita channels the essence of India’s artistic heritage, infusing it with her contemporary vision, and does it all with an eye trained on sustainability.

Her Skills, Expertise, and Early Beginnings
Nikita ran operations as the head designer for seven years at an influential fashion brand known in Hyderabad for its dedication to preserving traditional Indian textiles. She managed over a dozen work groups—running teams, overseeing designs, organizing fashion shows, mentoring, and teaching her many skills. Her hands-on work is a creative force in the industry of garment construction, styling, weaving, printing, dying, embroidery, and applique work.

She also is a consultant for NEST Expert Network, an agency developed to advance the creative artisan economy. Over several years, she has led operations for Sustainable Fashion Week in New York.

Nikita’s profound love for textiles began as a little girl, watching her mother make clothing choices, exciting her visual palette with an explosion of color, fabrics, and textures that captivated her and later drew her into the world of artisanal textiles. 

She went on to earn a degree in textile design at the pioneering National Institute of Fashion Technology in India. She delved further into the world of textile crafts by living amongst artisans and weavers across over ten textile clusters at the grassroots of India. She continued to push her creative boundaries and hone her craft by majoring in fashion design at one of the top fashion schools in the U.S., the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

Learn about Kalamkari.

Nikita's Resume

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