From Beyoncé to Priyanka Chopra Jonas, from Dimple Kapadia to Ananya Pandey, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla’s brand has exceeded expectations with each creation. Thirty three years later, they still share the same passion, drive and obsession for their art
By: Nikita Vivek Pawar
Posted on: October 23, 2019
The eponymous label of Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla, synonymous to unparalleled craftsmanship and designs, completed over three decades in the fashion industry and they don't seem to be stopping anytime soon. The designer duo has had a glorious journey, one to cherish and commemorate. “It is a deeply emotional moment. Such a long and thrilling journey. We breathe design. It is everything to us. Our work, our play, our very soul. We are so grateful we do what we love. It is a rare privilege. And we are as passionate, as hungry, as obsessed as we were as two young men. So much more to do. And we cannot wait to do it,” said Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla. Indeed, the celebrated duo has a glorious story to tell.
Experience is a true teacher, but when coupled with passion, dedication and drive it creates history. Remaining relevant for a long period of time without any formal education in design or business is a laurel in itself. Mr Jani and Mr Khosla, since 1989, have been driven by their innate desire to create, to constantly imagine and reimagine things, places and people in different light and learn with every process, concept and venture.
Their designs and innovations aren’t a single man’s job. They proudly call themselves a team - a team of dreamers, artisans, and a team of enthusiasm. From conceptualising a collection to its execution, it’s a joint effort. And, when working in a team, disagreements and arguments come unsaid. In case of this duo, mutual affection and respect for each other, both as humans and artists, helps them resolve most disagreements. “The entire purpose of being two people is to value the other person's vision even if it is at times different to your own. From the beginning we have always seen disagreements as potential for creating greater beauty,” the duo shared.
For a designer, freedom to translate visions, imaginations, emotions, expressions and viewpoints into designs and patterns contributes to his unprecedented art. For most designers, there is no set formulae or process. It is as organic and unpredicted as it can be. “It isn’t something which can be put into words. It is an organic, natural process. We are compelled to ideate. Forever dreaming, visualising and we take it from there. What originates as an idea in our heads is transformed into sketches. One refines and hones the ideas until they take form as ensembles,” explained the designers.
The duo has never restricted their colour palette or ideas. More than a trend or analysis, their imagination drives their collection. Each collection is different from the previous and helps them understand a little more about themselves. Experimenting their way through, with different styles, silhouettes, concepts and fabrics, they truly enjoy creation. Digging their roots deep in our culture, the designers also enjoy traditions and techniques. They have regularly put in full forces to revive and support generations old heritage.
Mr Jani and Mr Khosla are often addressed as “The Boys”. And over the years the duo has established numerous relationship with entertainment as well as other influential families of India and abroad. The designers dressed Jaya Bachchan on multiple occasions, then they dressed both Shweta Bachchan Nanda for her wedding as well Abhishek Bachchan for his wedding, and now the duo dress Ms. Bachchan’s daughter, Navya Naveli Nanda. The duo’s first client was Dimple Kapadia, and they still dress her along with her daughters and granddaughters! “It is a huge privilege to dress generations of the same family. To create long-standing relationships is deeply important to us. It is wonderful to see parents, children and now grandchildren dressed in Abu Sandeep. To create a legacy of sorts and see our creativity appreciated through the decades,” they exclaimed.
Gaining global recognition, showcasing collections in almost every fashion week around the world, we wonder what would be the secret for their relevance. While I thought it would be a result of some strenuous calculations or heavy planning, it’s just old school creativity. “You remain relevant when your work has relevance. This means constant reinvention. There is no replacement for originality or excellence. It will always find a place and an appreciative audience. We concentrate on our own creativity. On pushing ourselves to always break our own bar.”
The Millennial Lingo
Being in the business for over three decades, they have been witnesses to numerous ups and downs of their journey as well as the holistic fashion industry. With changing times and newer trends, adaptability becomes crucial. Innovating, reinventing and keeping up with times is necessary for survival. The Generation Z or the millennials, maintaining a connection with the audience is of utmost importance. There is also an inevitable unspoken competition with newer emerging talents. Overtime, the designers have changed their language and presentation, but kept their ethos intact. “It’s not for us to compare ourselves with anyone else. We never have. It has always been about following our own hearts and creative vision. When you are fully committed to that vision, when you set out to live a dream together, then you do whatever it takes to make it happen,” the duo explained.
What comes after you’ve created a masterpiece? With increased expectations, there’s always a pressure to perform. The competition to excel is with ourselves more than our competitors. The duo swears by the policy to make their own rules and break them. “No artist can be called an artist if they cater to an outside audience or worry about competition. You simply create the finest. And the rest happens. The success, the fame, the following. These are wonderful by products of one's work. They are never your raison d'etre. One lives to create. Bigger, better and ever more fabulous.”
India and Luxury
India is on its way of becoming a superpower in the world. India has immense potential as a market and the luxury sector has also seen a significant growth. “When we began there was no high fashion industry or training institutions or fashion media. Your work had to speak for itself. Today we have a massive PR machinery, social and print media. Insta stars are born, and fade just as easily. It is wonderful to see the growth of the industry, the talent, the opportunities for that talent.”
Taken the amount of experience the designer duo has in the industry, they couldn’t help but notice the shortcomings along with the shift and change in the industry. Investment is one of the key factors lacking in the Indian Luxury sector, both private and public. There is a requirement of immense support and faith on the part of corporate India to take ‘Make in India’ a force to reckon with in the global luxury market.
The Commemoration Show
To celebrate their marvellous milestone, the duo sang their journey, with glamour and style, quite literally! A 130 ensemble show was organised with great music, choreography and, of course, breathtaking ensembles. Playing with the colour palette, from pristine white to the funkiest neons and bolds, the evening saw festivities and celebration. Deepika Padukone was the showstopper for the show, wearing the piece de resistance ensemble, "The Circle of Life" ghagra. This mesmerising handcrafted masterpiece on skin, hand-embroidered with pearls, Swarovski and Resham embroidery included a crystal and pearls blouse and a fabulous drape.
The evening saw the debut of their brand new menswear label, Mard by Abu Sandeep. The label exudes a spirit of swagger and a stand apart style. Mard is visionary, experimental and set to become pathbreaking as it sets new rules of sartorial style for the modern male.
Celebrities seen present and supporting the designer duo were Abhishek Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Shweta Bachchan, Asha Parekh, Waheeda Rehman, Twinkle Khanna, Karan Johar, Sunita & Rhea Kapoor, Kokilaben Ambani, Isha Ambani, Shloka Mehta, Sonali Bendre, Sussane Khan, and many others.
Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla is a brand that stands for a lot more than mere fashion. It is also about undistinguished craftsmanship, a dire need to evolve and explore, and to support our culture and heritage.