For more than 30 years, designer duo Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla have reigned over the
Indian luxury fashion industry. In a candid
tête-à-tête, they tell us about their journey,
Indian sensibilities, iconic creations, and upcoming projects.
By ANANYA BAHL
The Beginning of Our Journey
We met by chance at an Independence Day get together in 1986 and formed an instant bond. For both of us, it was magical to meet another person who shared the same passion and ambition to create beautiful fashion. By the end of the same day, we had decided to work together. The rest is history.
Fashion Is in Our Genes
We believe that formal qualifications are not essential to express an artistic vision. A degree may educate you about valuable techniques, but it cannot teach creativity. That’s a God-given gift. And it’s up to an artist to hone that talent with unrelenting dedication and discipline.
The Secret of Sustained Success
An unswerving commitment to creating the finest, sans compromise. Our work is original and rooted in sensibilities that worship craftsmanship at its most complex and refined. We never rest on our laurels. Instead, we constantly reinvent our expression to break the highest bar. We are always learning and are madly in love with our work. Our aim is to remain dreamers, with an unbridled imagination craving to convert impossibly rich dreams into reality.
The Essence of Indulgence
Luxury by its very definition is the rarest of the rare. It exudes finesse, a zealous attention to detail, and possesses unparalleled quality. It is the privilege of the freedom to create what pleases you and live a life of your own choosing.
The Metamorphosis of Fashion
When we began in 1986, the high-fashion industry didn’t exist as an evolved entity in India. As pioneers, our work had to speak for itself. There was no public relations or media machinery. Today, we have a formalised industry. Social media and influencers play a central role in the creation of hype to promote new designers and influence trends. International fashion houses have established themselves in India over the last decade. And Indian fashion is now poised to enter the global arena. The opportunity is immense. It’s crucial we invest in the huge pool of talent we possess. We must champion excellence and originality to position ourselves on the world fashion stage.
The Indian Aesthetic
We are obsessed with textiles and embroideries, and it has been our life’s mission to elevate both to a standard of absolute excellence in the most layered and original expression—to transform craft into veritable works of art. We have reinvented multiple embroidery techniques and made them our own. From chikankari (darning stitch) and resham (embroidery with silk thread) to mirrorwork embroidery, gota (applique work), and zardozi (metallic embroidery), these are now Abu Sandeep signature hallmarks. We work extensively across India—from Kerala to Gujarat and Lucknow—to revolutionise textiles, with hand-block techniques like bandhani (traditional tie-dye) and ajrak (indigenous block printing) and embroideries.
The Evolution of Bridal Couture
It’s only gotten bigger over the decades. From saris and lehengas, bridal wear now includes anarkalis, shararas, gowns, and ghararas. The contemporary bride is adventurous, and many choose to wear non-traditional colours and silhouettes. Crystals, sequins, and stones are a stylish option for receptions. Reds, oranges, and pinks are an eternal favourite for those who wish to be classical brides. For trousseaus, we believe in timeless classics over seasonal trends—elements that suit your lifestyle.
From the Bachchans to Beyoncé
It is gratifying to be trendsetters for three-and-a-half decades. We are proud to have set new and lasting standards in fashion. We introduced chikankari as couture and bridal wear 25 years ago. We also put ‘The White Bride’ on the map. and our work with mirror and resham is iconic. We are truly blessed to have dressed some of India’s most iconic celebrities and business families for their most important private and public occasions for generations. It has been a dream come true and privilege. They possess a rare understanding and appreciation for finesse and luxury and a deep respect for our work. Delightfully open to experimentation, they are mavericks with huge presence and personality. Every interaction is a learning experience.
It is a matter of pride for us that our work is India-inspired and represents the most glamorous expression of creativity.
Preparing for Pret
Gulabo by Abu Sandeep is our pret label. It’s light, breezy, flirtatious, and easy. The focus is on a feast of silhouettes essayed on cotton. It came into being because we wanted to design for a whole new audience of women and create garments that prove basic doesn’t mean boring. The collection includes dresses, tunics, kaftans, kurtas, and dhotis.
We love to travel and experience new places, people, and cultures. And when we find a place we love, we return to experience it again.
In India, we adore Goa, Jaipur, and Rishikesh. Abroad, London, Paris, and New York City feel like home.
A Fashionable Future
We’ve just released a campaign called ‘The Glory of Giddha’. It celebrates the Punjabi dance tradition that exudes physical strength and grace along with a host of emotions. We have big plans for the future. On the horizon are new stores, verticals, and geographies—watch this space!
GETTING LUXE WITH ABU SANDEEP
The most iconic look you’ve designed till date
Abu: Our Chikan Brides.
Sandeep: The best is yet to come.
Your favourite city for shopping
Abu: Paris and London.
Sandeep: London, Jaipur, and New York City.
A hotel you love
Abu: Hotel Costes, Paris and The Oberoi, New Delhi.
Sandeep: Rambagh Palace, Jaipur.
India’s most fashionable city?
Abu: Mumbai, all the way.
Sandeep: Mumbai, with Delhi being a close second.
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