Vivacity

‘Fashion can’t be intimidating’

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‘Fashion can’t be intimidating’

India is experimenting with styles and nobody is following the West. People are taking inspiration from India, says Rahul Khanna as he completes 20 years with ROHIT GANDHI in the trade. By Ramya Palisetty

Everybody has watched Julia Roberts walking into a designer store in Pretty Woman. One look at her tardy clothes and she was judged and banished from the charmed premises by the employee. That image of the fashion store assistant has been etched into our minds forever. But the first thing that the designer duo of Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna look into when they hire anyone is how friendly and kind the individual is. They have always wanted people from all walks of life to aspire to buy designer wear that is constantly viewed on television and runways. They are excited when young adolescents walk into their store looking for a prom dress or a tuxedo for their coming-of-age moment. Rahul Khanna fondly remembers the times when parents, who got engaged in clothes designed by them, bring their children for picking up their first designer suit.

Celebrating a milestone of revolutionising men’s pret wear and spending two decades in the fashion industry, Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna unveiled their collection, aptly called An Evening of Reflection, in Delhi. With immense attention to details, this collection pursued their core aesthetics. Glistening silver elements, metallic hues and modern edgy elements accentuated the lineup which played with luxurious fabrics like frosted silks, fine grained tulles and organzas. Handcrafted techniques were co-opted in the form of appliqué work, laser cut work and hand beading. Said Rahul, “We have taken inspiration from our archives and runway pieces and transformed it for 2018. It has the essence and DNA of our brand, Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna.”

The long creative partnership has sustained the test of time. Conceptualised in 1997, they have been consistent in terms of quality and affordability. Though they have been through the best and the worst of times, they have always felt lucky to have each other. The two think and say the same thing on most occasions, like there is a telepathic connection between them. Said Rahul, “It is a difficult task for two people to come together collectively on a design. Each and every individual has a different opinion and a unique sense of taste. We clicked as our sensibilities are completely in sync. It is scary and amazing at the same time. There have been instances when we have worn the exact same clothes or said the exact same thing to our team. But we do fight a lot because we are each other’s biggest critics and the best comes out for the brand.”

The journey has been long and profound. They  admire each other for traits that are essential for their business and have made them successful today globally. Sharing great camaraderie, Rahul said, “Rohit doesn’t keep things to his heart. He usually forgets and tends to move on. I used to over analyse and think too much but that has changed in the past few years.”

In the workplace, they are extremely professional. Each has a different role to essay and takes care of various aspects of business but they come together for designing their collection. “We have two offices in the factory but we usually sit in the same room. We divide our work equally. I am astounded by the fact that some designers single-handedly handle the whole process. You can be a thinker and a doer but you can’t do everything.”

The two met in college at NIFT and have been a force to reckon with since. They started the label H20 and Cue with minimalistic, clean and classy formal wear. They entered the market when designer wear was synonymous with bridal couture. During that time, men used to wear baggy shirts and loose fits. Said he, “That was the time when men used to shy away from the arduous chore of shopping. Women of the family used to shop for them. But the trends have seen a drastic change. Men are open to experimentation and are choosing to wear colours like pink.” On a lighter note, he added, “We take a little bit of credit for changing men’s fashion in India.”

A lot of designers tried their hand at launching pret lines but they all went back to couture. It looks incredibly easy but pret market is a difficult avenue. Said he, “Keeping up the quality in a price market is demanding. We have understood the needs of our customers and have stuck to our guns. We have diligently stayed pret designers without drifting into couture.”

In India, corporate houses were reluctant to jump into investing their money in the fashion industry for production and retail process. But as the fashion industry started evolving and gaining momentum, the trends changed for the better. Said the optimistic designer, “Things were nice about three years ago. But with demonetisation, everyone backed out. I am hoping for the best and soon we will see corporates back in the game taking adventurous risks. 2017 was one of the worst years but 2018 looks very promising.”

The vision of the brand has always been to bring  fashion within reach to all brackets of the society. People are intimidated by designer stores because they are stumped with questions like “what should I wear” or “would people judge me if I wear street clothes?” Said Rahul, “People assume the prices would be sky high and designers are monsters. The reason our label has garnered success is because our designs are exclusive, at a good price and great quality. Our menswear starts below Rs 5000. We wanted to eradicate the scare out of individual’s mind.”

Influenced by modern contemporary art, they own  Palette Art Gallery in Delhi and are immensely fond of architecture and art. Said Rahul, “We love the architectural lines of Zaha Hadid. With her passing away, we based our collection keeping her in mind.”

With the influx of various shopping websites, the label has upped its act too. Said he, “We had a great tie-up with amazon and our designs are available online. After our 20-year show, we will be launching a new collection and opening a new store abroad.”

Looking back, the duo is happy that Indians are finally comfortable in their own skin and have the most amazing sense of style at the moment. Said Rahul, “We, as Indians, are developing our own fashion. Everybody has a style statement. The whole of India is experimenting and nobody is following the West. People are taking inspiration from India.”

 
 
 
 
 

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