Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla: Masters Of Glamour & Grace

Go-to designers for those seeking timeless, yet contemporary couture, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla’s  unique aesthetic and innovative designs have earned them a dedicated global following, making them true icons in the world of fashion.

By Amber Dias

Designer duo Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla have carved an indelible mark in the world of fashion with their exquisite craftsmanship and unparalleled creativity. Renowned for their opulent couture and intricate embellishments, they seamlessly blend traditional Indian aesthetics with contemporary sensibilities. With a client roster spanning from Bollywood royalty to international celebrities, including Jaya and Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Twinkle Khanna, Nita Ambani, Pink Reddy, Sussanne Khan, Shah Rukh and Gauri Khan, Dame Judi Dench, Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Gwen Stefani and Carrie Underwood, their luxurious creations have become synonymous with glamour and sophistication. Embracing heritage techniques while pushing the boundaries of modern design, they continue to captivate fashion enthusiasts worldwide with their timeless elegance and innovative vision.

Excerpts from the interview…

Today, your names are synonymous with Indian couture, extending beyond just bridal wear. Looking back at your journey, how would you describe the growth and evolution of your brand?

Creating a legacy is built on very pure and uncompromising principles. Our vision remains thoroughly original, untouched by shortcuts or external influences. We create the very finest, dreaming originally and executing those dreams with painstaking craftsmanship and unswerving dedication. Our imagination and ambition are wonderfully free and unabashedly grand. There are no shortcuts when achieving the seemingly impossible — it’s a labour of absolute love. Our appetite for beauty is immense and grows with every collection. We are blessed to work with the most gifted artisans and a team who, like us, have poured their entire souls into creating the most wonderful couture. We began as pure couturiers and, in the last eight years, diversified our expression to include diffusion, menswear, and a pret label specializing in separates for women.

On a similar note, there must have been challenges along the way. Now, from the top of the scale, what challenges do you encounter, if any, and what strategies do you have in place to tackle them?

Remaining relevant and at the top of our game for close to four decades presents numerous challenges. Continuous evolution with a passion for expanding our horizons and addressing new audiences is crucial. Our enthusiasm must never wane, and the mission is always to hone our creativity and reach new heights with every collection. The scourge of rip-offs and copycats must be met by staying ahead and innovating. There’s no room for resting on laurels; instead, we are always learning and forever reaching higher.

The world knows you as a dynamic duo that never misses a beat. What has it been like working together, blending two different styles and ideas to build your empire?

It has been the mother of all adventures. We are infinitely blessed with each other. We are undoubtedly better and stronger together — Abu and Sandeep together create alchemy. Our core sensibilities and aesthetics mirror each other. While we are like chalk and cheese in personality, we complete each other. Essentially, we have deep respect for one another as artists and share a profound love, which brings extraordinary patience, an ability to disagree, a desire to listen, and learn. Love creates miracles.

Your brand is the first choice for the who’s who of India and even abroad. What is it about your approach to fashion that draws them and keeps them coming back?

A profound respect and love for our creativity set us apart. We create the distinctly extraordinary, always aiming for the finest. Our clients are treasured, valued beyond measure, and we appreciate their faith in us. Working with clients for decades and creating for three or even four generations is truly special. Our craftsmanship is unparalleled, as we believe in creating impeccably fine handcrafted clothes that are utterly timeless and hold eternal value.

What is the one piece of advice that clients constantly seek when choosing an outfit, especially for a wedding or a special occasion?

Clients seek an ensemble that sets them apart even in the most exclusive gatherings. A desire for the extraordinary, impeccably crafted, and an outfit that sets a new standard and remains relevant and coveted for years to come.

Fashion is constantly evolving, influenced by social media and vast content exposure. As designers, how do you balance the vision your clients bring with staying true to yourselves? Does this influence your strategy for keeping the brand relevant?

Our brand remains relevant due to the originality and exceptional quality of our expression. We are not influenced by external trends or market considerations. We look to our inner imaginations, listen to our inner voices, and create independently. We are designers, not fabricators, and our clientele comes to us for our vision and our ability to merge their vision through our art.

Speaking of social media’s power to influence, how has your approach to marketing and connecting with people changed because of it?

Social media is an unavoidable part of the industry. While it’s a part of our marketing, it doesn’t control our creativity. We use social media to promote our work without letting it dictate what we create. When we started, social media did not exist, so innovations, especially in crafts like chikankari, sheesha, and zardozi, have not been documented. These crafts are now reinvented on our social media pages and are perhaps the most copied today.

What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment to date? While there will always be new heights to reach, is there a specific goal you are focused on for the immediate future?

Our biggest accomplishment has been staying true to our vision, design principles, sensibilities, and ethics. We never compromise, cut corners, or take shortcuts. We treasure our artisans, ensuring their happiness and fulfilment in their work. Our mission and dream is to take Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla global, bringing India’s absolute finest to the world.

You recently released a video featuring supermodels like Arjun Rampal, Nayanika Chatterjee, Sheetal Mallar, Carol Gracias, and Dino Morea. What inspired it, and can you briefly take us behind the scenes of putting it together?

We believe in beauty and magic being larger than life. The video is a celebration of the supermodels and the belief that people and things of quality have no fear of time — they never lose their beauty or relevance. Age is beautiful and must be glorified, celebrated and cherished. ‘The Return of the Muse’ showcases the extraordinary journey of supermodels in the glamorous world of haute couture.

Collaborations with other industries, such as film or art, have become more common. Can you share any memorable collaborations that have influenced your designs or expanded your creative horizons?

Our work with Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Rhea Kapoor in cinema was creatively satisfying. Designing for movie characters in both periods, like ‘Devdas’ (which won a National Award), and contemporary women in ‘Veere Di Wedding’, was wonderful. Bhansali and Rhea’s deep love for couture gave us carte blanche to create magnificent costumes.

Sustainability is the buzzword at the moment. What does it mean to you, and how has it influenced your approach to creating?

Couture is the slowest and most sustainable form of fashion. The highest quality craftsmanship and the most eternal, classical design are meant to last and remain relevant for decades. Cheap, fast fashion is the most expensive thing in the long run. Timeless style at Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla has been our raison d’etre from the beginning, and our work is forever.

What’s new at AJSK? Is there a new collection or two in the works that lovers of your creations can look forward to?

We most recently launched the Navratan collection – meaning jewel tones inspired by the famous nine gemstones. Going forward, our creativity isn’t going to be restricted to garments alone, but witness expansion into interior design. A Wonder Room is the interior design vertical by Abu & Sandeep and our designs are undoubtedly eclectic, drawn heavily from Indian art. Talking about new, we also plan to open a new flagship store in Mumbai, expand into candles, jewellery and perfumes in 2024. Stay tuned and watch this space for more exciting developments!

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