As a trailer to their upcoming collections at the Blenders Pride Fashion Tour, three leading names from the fashion fraternity recently gathered in Delhi. Before the smashing show, internationally acclaimed and award-winning designer Sandeep Khosla, who co-owns a successful label with Abu Jani, sat with us and gave us a glimpse into his life, beliefs and more. Excerpts from the conversation:
The duo’s journey
When we both started, there were precedents likes Ritu Kumar, who was the only brand known across India whom every young bride would go to; then there was James Ferreira in Bombay and for laymen there was Karol Bagh. When we came in, Abu and I started to imagine the impossible as we re-introduced several stitches and embroideries. People fell in love with the ‘something hatke’ that we created.
We decided that we would never keep a perfect person in mind when we create something. Our designs should please us first. If they are appealing to us, only then do they hit the ramp. Having said that, we acknowledge that what reaches the ramp isn’t always successful. But we’re always ready to take the risk.
The upcoming collection
Classic meets the contemporary. We aim to revisit some of Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla (AJSK) classics such as Bandhani that we started 33 years ago. There will be a representation of different regions’ Jamdani and Khadi. As a symbol of AJSK, there will be touches of white. This time, we are also trying a lot of new techniques in embroidery.
A bad fusion
I’m trying to be or have been categorised as a gown, but I am not a gown — would definitely be a bad fusion for me. I could be a glorified Anarkali. When an original stays an original, nothing can beat it.
Classic to Contemporary
The fashion industry has come a long way. But there is something that is needed now more than ever — fashion policing. Even today everybody would say that everyone is dressed beautifully. Especially, on red carpet looks, you never really hear true criticism.
Breaking the stereotypes
We have always known that our perfect person is going to only be our buyer and not the model. Also, today, we are much more inclusive, gender-conscious and diverse as there is betterment in terms of fluidity across the industry. Whether it’s Anjali Lama or Nayanika Chatterjee, age has never been a concern as far as AJSK is concerned. We still do consider Jaya Bachchan and Dimple Kapadia as our muses. We have never been about perfect body in that manner.
We take criticism with a pinch of salt. A lot of comments that pour in are unfortunately on the celebrities who wear our garment — either she gets trolled or she gets loved. It becomes more about the celebrity than the costume itself. There is still a lack of depth among people to become insightfully critical. Rhea (Kapoor) one day told me when we did something for Sonam before her Cannes appearance, “Sandy you are never supposed to look at the comments.”
Dilli waale babu, original dila do
Recently, there was this lady whom I was travelling with on a flight and she informed me that there is a shop in Chandni Chowk that does private fashion shows for clients and mentions the designer as “Yeh Abu Jani ka hai (this dress is from Abu Jani’s collection), or this is from some other designer, you can pick according to your budget.” Also, I had gone to a shop in South Extension (delhi) when my niece was getting married; the salesman comes to me and says “Sir, Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla’s latest collection has come.”
Setting the benchmark
When we opened our first brand shop, the first customer who came in was Dimple Kapadia and she loved the clothes. I can never forget the moment. The true achievement that we consider is, though Abu had worked in Bollywood for a little while, we knew nobody in the industry properly and now whomsoever we know is through our clothes.