Uncovering With ClapClap: Luxury Couturiers Abu Jani And Sandeep Khosla

A young artist once found his way after being rejected from art school. Another young man came to the realisation that he wasn’t cut out for business and numbers. As Xerxes Bhathena’s assistants, the pair decided to give fashion a go. Fast forward a few years, and Sandeep Khosla and Abu Jani are popular names in the fashion world. The ace designers have made a place for themselves in the industry as luxurious leaders of timeless elegance. For over 35 successful years, they have followed their vision instead of falling to the pressures of the market. The Bachchan family, Priyanka Chopra, and Sonam Kapoor Ahuja are spotted in their designs often. The designer duo has also designed for Maggie Smith, Beyoncé, and Judi Dench.

 ClapClap had the honour to get close with the iconic designer duo Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla and here is how it went.

ClapClap is all about collaboration, according to you what does collaboration mean, and is it really necessary today?

SK: Collaboration is a new word. I think it’s a good thing to do, everything is a collaboration now. It’s mainly about benefiting both, your crowd comes from me and my crowd comes from you. Then we all ClapClap! in other words, we can call it a partnership.

In terms of collaborations, you might have a set of creators or actors in mind. Who would you want to collaborate with and haven’t yet?

SK: If it was 30 years ago, I would’ve said, well, I’ll dress up so and so. However, Charlie Theron comes to mind and Nicole Kidman is an all-time favourite. In India, there are so many people, but here we have the good fortune to have dressed almost everybody. And of course, you have your blooper moments like everybody has and we’ve also had some good times and bad times.

If we ask you about fashion, that’s going to be quite obvious, but today we want to talk to you about the personality that you’ve created on social media. Usually, when you go to a designer’s Instagram page, you see their designs. But with you and Abu, we see only memes. Tell us more about it.

SK: I feel like it’s so boring for me to keep posting designs. Typically when you go to a designer’s page, there’s his take on a bride and their main page shows the same bride and I think there’s much more to life. Especially with covid and everything that’s been happening. Everything’s been so sad all around us. One day, I said let’s lift ourselves out, and let’s do fun things. Everybody wants a laugh, everybody’s got a dirty mind. I have a specially dirty mind, I have to admit. But I get lots of hate now because some people don’t understand humor, they think I make my own memes, but I don’t. I scout around, and sometimes it takes a couple of seconds, hours, or even days to find the perfect post for the feed.

 Which are the top three meme pages that you love?

SK: There’s Thirsty as Fuck and then there is Rebel Circus quotes which is good. There is a guy called Your Vish who has really good Hindi content that is hilarious. There’s something called Dank Story, which is also quite dirty. I think people have been taking everything too seriously lately. All we need is to calm down and enjoy life.

That is true. What is a first-world problem that you are embarrassed about?

SK: The first-world problem I’ve been facing lately is, I don’t remember any numbers. Like birthdays, and important dates. And then you have to refer to your phone or Facebook (Meta). If the app fails to send you a notification you miss it altogether.

One thing we always wanted to know is how do you come up with the names of your brands?

SK: The process is very simple when we floated Asal. Abu was inspiring the whole world and all of India, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. So he said, let’s come out of a different brand, which is our philosophy but with a name that is the real thing without it being the real thing. So that’s how Asal was born, and it took us a long time for us to come up with that one. Gulabo just came into being when we had just watched Pyaasa. Waheedaji’s character’s name was Gulabo, and she was a poetess in the film. The character has humour, she’s shy and seductive at the same time. So character encapsuled, everything Gulabo was about. Whereas Mard was a dumb decision. We thought let’s just call it something simple and Mard is also a very eighties word.

There are a lot of aspiring models and designers that look up to you. What would you like to tell them?

SK: There are no shortcuts in life. It’s hard work and more hard work. Believe in yourself. Sometimes, you’re not meant to be a designer or an actor, or a model. Choose an alternate career. Don’t stay in something which is not rewarding you after three years. If it’s not rewarding, it’s not giving back to you. It’s time to move on.

There is this interesting saying that you can buy fashion but style is something that you inherit. And your style is very ahead of its time and people try to ape that. What do you have to say about that?

AJ: I don’t think about that. But yes, I’m dramatic in my dressing and if I’m inspiring people, it’s a very good thing. But basically, it has to be in you. You can’t buy style. And for me it is also, I make this huge surrounding, to take away attention from the inner core, which is very soft. So we have both Ying and Yang.

 Your outfit is a reflection of who you are, that’s true. According to you, what is that one look in these 35-plus years, you’ve styled that’s the most special to you?

AJ: There are quite a few, can’t choose one, but I think crush has always been there, from Bengal to Lucknow. You know how they used a stone and put a lot of starch and rubbed that to make crush. It’s quite versatile so I would say crush and bandhani.

If you weren’t into fashion, what do you think would’ve been your alternative career?

AJ: I don’t know. I would be doodling in my exercise books. I have a learning defect. Growing up, we never knew what it is to have dyslexia, so you just get beaten up for not studying. But I needed a job, so I assisted Xerxes Bhathena with film costumes and, it gave me all the direction no institution could have.

ClapClap: But you realised what you were really good at and stuck with it, we are so thankful for that!

As they said hard work and believing in yourself is everything. We need no more proof to know how this iconic duo has been a cult favourite not only among Bollywood but internationally and was a treat to uncover the fun side of Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla with team ClapClap. 

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