If you are social media junkie, you might have noticed street-style fashion catalogue with real people by bhane. doing the rounds. It definitely caught our eye and made us follow this fashion label, launched in 2013. Their clothes are non fussy, yet high quality and contemporary. They have well designed basics which can easily be styled individualistically. Most importantly, for an Indian brand they get the cuts and silhouettes right!
We caught up with Anand Ahuja, the brain behind bhane. for our spotlight series and hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as we did.
MN:What does bhane. mean?
The products that we make doesn’t carry any logos. It is made in a way that encourages versatility. We want to see people use our clothes to express their own style and their own personality. We want bhane. to be recognized not by its letters or by a symbol but by its aesthetic, its quality and the overall emotion of our brand. So to us, bhane. means expression, it means respect, it means authentic and it means progressive. This is how we try to portray bhane. and it is up to you to tell us if you are in accordance of that definition or not! I am telling you all this because you asked me what ‘bhane means’ and not, ‘what does the word bhane mean’. For the latter, the answer is much shorter and that is the word bhane is rooted in Gurmukhi and its traditional meaning is ‘Rising Sun’. It is a lovely word and a lovely definition and a reminder for us to continue to push forward in creating our definition for bhane.
MN: How was bhane. born?
While I was working with Shahi Exports, learning the different aspects of weaving, spinning, fabric processing my overall interest in retail (that I was first exposed to as a Buyer at Macy’s and then as a Product Manager at Amazon.com) got the best of me. After research into the Indian market, discussions with several people and 8 rounds of interviews with Nitish & Swati – bhane’s first team members – bhane. was born. The three of us would sit in a conference room and discuss how bhane. should be positioned. They would work on designs and prototypes nonstop. Eventually we started testing the product and liked it so we decided to develop a website and just try selling the garments. Then slowly more people joined the team and here we are…
MN: What is bhane. style ?
bhane. style is personal, its individual, its filled with character and backed by confidence. It is experimental and most of all it is always developing – a Work In Progress.
MN: Latest collection …?
With every passing day, week, month, our garments are getting stronger and stronger. bhane. is developing and refining its handwriting and our product is delivering the sentiments we aspire to express in a more focused and efficient manner. We will continue working to develop it further and we hope that we can always continue to say that this is our best yet…
MN: You grew up in…?
…In West Philadelphia, I was born and raised. On the playground is where I spent most of my days. Chilling out, maxing, actin all cool….no but actually…I grew up in New Delhi but I went to college and grad school in Philadelphia. I also worked in New York for 3 years.
MN: What was your dream career growing up?
Outside of being a professional Basketball player and a “business man” like my “dad”. To be honest, I used to often speak with my father about the possibility of starting a brand. I vividly remembered him telling me that while it made sense, because his focus was on manufacturing, it could be something I picked up should my interest allow. I never actually saw myself starting a new company and even if I did, it wasn’t till much later in my career…like I was saying, bhane. sort of started itself and it continues to grow because of the wonderful team that we have.
MN: What is your personal style inspiration?
The cliché saying is that style is just confidence…which is true. There are so many amazing people with amazing style and the only thing that they all have in common is that it is unique to them and they carry it because it is them expressing themselves and not trying to copy other people. They take inspiration from the people they see, from their emotions and their work and blend it together to make their own style. That is probably my inspiration, seeing people put together things you wouldn’t have necessarily thought of and then to try and make that my own in my own way.
MN: A headline you’d like to read about yourself
5’9, raw vegan athlete Anand Ahuja runs clinic to show “height challenged” athletes to increase vertical in order to dunk a basketball with style.
MN: Personal fashion faux pas?
In India it would be keeping a buzz cut (really short, nearly shaved head). Too many religious tags to it and people keep thinking its cause they think I am unable to grow hair! (I only learned that people thought that about 2 years ago after having a buzz cut for over 8 years)
MN: New York or New Delhi?
New Delhi is ultimately home but New York is inspiration for its individuality.
MN:Cupcakes or Gulabjamun?
Growing up it was definetly Gulabjamuns, Cupcakes were too dry but then in New York went through this cupcake phase where I had some real delicious cupcakes, the mini ones. Now I would have to say Cupcakes just because Gulabjamun’s are too intense for me. (And I can get vegan cupcakes? Haha)
MN: Whiskey or Beer?
I am not really a drinker but I would like to imagine if I were I would be a whiskey sortta guy…you know, get better with age….whiskey does that too right, not just wine?
MN: Marathon or music festival?
Never done either and frankly no inclination to do either…they are both too intense. I much prefer individual music concerts to really enjoy the artist’s set and enjoy running but as an activity to free my mind…putting it into a timed event just takes away some of that relaxing factor.
MN: What comes to your mind when we say
- Indian fashion – growing, developing (Indian textiles is rich but Indian fashion is young)
- Street fashion – definitive of current fashion
- Moda Ninja – anything with the word “ninja” will make me first think video game…haha…but moda ninja I think young, fun, happy, personal, and comfortable (referring to how everyone in the pictures look comfortable and relaxed)
MN: Who according to you is synonymous with the Indian Fashion Industry?
I think artisans are synonymous with the Indian Fashion Industry. We have such a rich heritage in textiles and manufacturing and I think that is really where our strength lies.
MN: Do you read any fashion / style blogs? Which are your favorites?
When I first came back to India, I was on wearabout a lot which is why bhane firs thought to work with Manou. On a fairly regular basis, most the blogs that I see are US ones like sneakernews.com, hypebeast, highsnobiety, and selectism
MN: What would you like fashion bloggers to do more of?
I think fashion bloggers are going to be able to collaborate with brands in curating collections and developing individual/exclusive lines. That will be fun to see. But also, I’d like to see bloggers do more of traditional journalism work. The journalism industry, the traditional sense at least, is fading but there is a lot it has to offer. It is fading because all the young talent are doing their own blogs which is great but also I think the reach that traditional journalism in newspapers and magazines have is enormous, not only for the older generation but in countries like India, that have an incomplete and slow internet network, magazines and newspapers are still what most people read. By having some of the top bloggers also contribute to newspapers and magazines, they can share some of their progressive thinking with a wider audience. Otherwise we will just continue to see the journalists with an old-school-thought process dominate the most widely read media.
MN: If you can pick anyone, who would you want to be brand ambassador for bhane.?
You! Part of what bhane. is all about is that it is casual and wearable by everyone. All heights, all weights all body types. It is not supposed to be intimidating. So this is why we have opened up our shoots to everyone…sometimes we get some influential people but their shot is treated no differently than the rest of the peoples!
MN: Should fashion be restricted to the elite? If not, how can one make it more accessible?
Absolutely not…once India loosens on its restrictions for single brands, this will open up and that is what we need. We need international brands, international mentality, and international aesthetic to make fashion and style more accessible. We can do our part by not allowing Indian companies to cheat customers by either offering on-style product really expensive or then offer bad looking product for cheap. Just because there is a restriction on brands in India, companies think they can get away with cheating customers out of either quality or overcharging them which is not how it should be and hopefully will change as the Indian economy continues to open up.
MN: What next after e -commerce?
We started off with just e-commerce just so we could test the water but actually its all just ‘commmerce’. People should have a seamless experience no matter how they shop and all the options should be there whether it is online or offline. So really our focus is about creating a unique, fun, and cohesive experience with bhane.
(All images provided by bhane. edited by Moda Ninja)