Monday, 30th October 2017

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Anand Ahuja’s Bhaane is for urban Indian youth

Our product has always been made to highlight the person wearing it and not to highlight the clothing: Anand Ahuja

  • Published 6.01.19, 6:13 PM
  • Updated 6.01.19, 6:13 PM
  • 3 mins read
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The founder-CEO of urban-contemporary clothing brand Bhaane, Anand Ahuja with his wife, Sonam Kapoor Source: Sonam Kapoor's Instagram
The cotton dress in mustard has pleated sleeves with a key-hole opening at the back is perfect for a date
The cotton dress in mustard has pleated sleeves with a key-hole opening at the back is perfect for a date Picture: Arnab Mondal

Much before he came into the Bolly spotlight, through his marriage to Sonam Kapoor, Anand Ahuja was already his own person — a self-confessed “sneaker geek”, a Kobe Bryant fan and the founder-CEO of urban-contemporary clothing brand Bhaane and India’s only multi-brand sneaker boutique, Veg-NonVeg (it has stores in Mumbai and Delhi).

His individualistic sense of fashion and his love for the street subculture have impacted both his brands. Bhaane was part of the line-up of The India Story, in association with The Telegraph, which is when we caught up with Anand on e-mail...

You have often said Bhaane is more than just an apparel label. How would you define it and why did you start it?

I started it because when I came back to India after being in the US for almost a decade, I saw how many talented young creative people there were here and how little they had access to. Obviously, since 2012, multiple brands have entered India, but the idea is still the same — to create a community of young creatives in India. For us, our medium is clothes, but we often associate with like-minded brands who use a different medium to do so.

From Bhane to Bhaane and a new creative director (Nimish Shah), what kind of overhaul do you have in mind?

Our product has to be of a truly international standard; the product has been good but it has to really step up a level. We’ve always had a great team working on doing this but never had a singular creative direction and we’re so excited for Nimish to come on board and own that responsibility. It’s critical for a brand to have a point of view, and to have a point of view you need a singular creative visionary.

How would you define your sense of style and how does it reflect in your brand?

Have a perspective — that’s my take and that’s what we are trying to build at Bhaane too.

A cotton colour-block boyfriend shirt with a regular fit, paired with laid-back white trousers with a tie-up strap on the waist. Brunch or just a casual day out, channel your inner cool with this look!
A cotton colour-block boyfriend shirt with a regular fit, paired with laid-back white trousers with a tie-up strap on the waist. Brunch or just a casual day out, channel your inner cool with this look! Picture: Arnab Mondal

Where do your sneaker sensibilities and love for street culture figure in the Indian context of things?

Our product has always been made to highlight the person wearing it and not to highlight the clothing itself and that’s why we love street style — just appreciating how people wear it every day and how people wear it different.

Sneakers are just something I grew up with, especially with basketball, but even before I started playing, that was my own personality and my expression. And it’s just so nice to see it growing in India. It gives me a chance to share the same passion with other people.

Sonam has a very individual sense of style and fashion. How has she influenced the brand in its new direction?

By having a point of view. What’s great about Sonam is that she can really make anything work — she’s got so many “style personalities”. She obviously has her go-to items but she can pull off so many different looks. This can also be a problem because she can literally buy anything, unlike most of us who can at least filter things on the basis that they don’t look good on us! Hah! But her main thing is having a perspective and having confidence.

She also understands how to appeal to a wider range of people than Bhaane has historically — she’s experienced it through her films and how different types of films appeal to different people.

The colour-block Graffiti midi-length dress made of cupro can be dressy enough for an outing with friends and comfortable enough for a weekend affair!
The colour-block Graffiti midi-length dress made of cupro can be dressy enough for an outing with friends and comfortable enough for a weekend affair! Picture: Arnab Mondal

From when you started six years ago, how has the Indian fashion scene changed and what would you attribute that change to?

I think it’s just evolved because people are getting access to more products and brands, which is great, but people are almost getting access to too many products, which is wasteful. Both are global trends that apply to India also.

With your new Mumbai store and the Delhi store that was, how has the shift from online to physical retail been?

We went to a physical store just one-and-a-half years after launching. We’ve always felt that it’s super important to have a tangible access point to share what your brand and community are about.

The pricing point for Bhaane has always made it accessible to the urban youth. What are some of its challenges?

Our advantage is the backing of a large manufacturer. When we were starting Bhaane, it almost felt more as a responsibility. If we can manufacture for international brands, why can’t we have a brand for India too? There will be some challenges like quantities and pricing, but over time, we’ll make it work.

What are your thoughts on Bollywood’s sense of fashion (apart from Sonam’s)?

It’s certainly evolving and people are making more effort. Sometimes, people make too much effort and it looks forced. But overall, I’m an optimist and it’s nice to see people making an effort to explore different styles and fashion. It’s most important for people to keep things original and keep things fresh.

The denim coat with indigo colour-block acts as a light layer or can be worn alone with funky trousers as well. An evening do or even a date, this look totally works.
The denim coat with indigo colour-block acts as a light layer or can be worn alone with funky trousers as well. An evening do or even a date, this look totally works. Picture: Arnab Mondal