Opulent Indian couture has been their calling card. And as fashion stalwarts Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla foray into Indian-at-heart Westernwear, they pen down their thoughts for Shubh Yatra
India has been our eternal muse. Indian traditions, heritage, crafts and arts have inspired our work throughout. While we kept re-inventing ourselves every season, we had never experimented with Westernwear as we didn’t want to do anything just to be part of the herd. We wanted to be unique. And now, as we work on our first season of Westernwear under the label Khosla Jani, we feel this is ultimate couture: a meld of the finest craftsmanship and techniques and hand embroideries, motifs and influences from diverse localities, cultures and eras. We have re-imagined our creative sensibilities and Indian inspirations for new audiences and geographies. It is a label that’s been conceptualised, designed and produced in India for the world. Africa, Europe, Japan and India figure prominently in the first collection, as do art, architecture and nature.
The first year was spent making samples. It was a long and tedious process, as we wanted to perfect the cuts and the embroideries. Interestingly, these sample pieces found instant recognition and were selected by stylists in Hollywood. And then they were sported by international celebrities such as Dame Judi Dench, Beyonce, Gwen Stefani and Carrie Under- wood. So in an unplanned manner, the label had an international debut before being launched in India. But even though the ensembles have Western silhouettes, they are intrinsically Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla. Our sensibilities and aesthetics remain the same. The new label is as fine, eternally elegant and completely original as any other collection designed by us ever.
We haven’t taken to the minimalism route to go international. We are maximalists. For us, more is better. More detailing and more finesse translate into more beauty. And this has only become stronger as we mature. We are nitpickers, never content and always yearning to set impossible standards for ourselves, meet them and then break our own bar.
Designing has never been a business for us. Like all artists, we make terrible businessmen because the compulsion to remain true to ourselves and to create with authenticity is what drives us. Our work is always an act of passion and never a product. What we have found is that our hunger, stamina and madness have increased as we have aged. Yet we see everything with a newborn’s eyes. We keep learning every day and we want to learn forever. One has to be a student always and it is for the rest of the world to call you a master.
Evolution of Indian Fashion
There is no dearth of talent in India and our ideas are brilliant. We need to stand united as an industry try and work towards better and more affordable infrastructure. We need to ensure our crafts and artisans get their due and get a fair representation on the global platform. And for this we need investor support. Japanese design and designers became an international sensation when corporate Japan started funding them.
We need a similar show of faith from our own. We are not against international luxury brands being brought to India through joint ventures between Indian and international brands but it’s important to promote Indian brands internationally as well.
Design across Genres
Creativity cannot be contained and it will always spill over into new media of expression. As artistes, we are always stretching our limits, something that led to the launch of our furniture line in the 1990s. We began with a collection of furniture inspired by architecture and that led to residential interiors. It was a natural progression rather than a conscious, intellect-driven decision. And one home led to another. When you are inspired, you make it all happen. It’s astonishing how much you can juggle when you do what you love.
– The authors are celebrated Indian fashion designers and the views expressed in this article are their own