Endorsing the colors of life, Aakarshan is a fresh fashion brand cutting through stuffy, monotonous designs in favor of lively & easygoing infusions. Aanchal Jaggi, founder and fashion designer, translates vibrancy onto her pieces, as if they were a plain canvas ready to be splattered.
Bold with elegance and fearless in her belief, Aanchal is a delight. Our conversation over a cup of coffee was more laughs, less work. Managing this single-(wo)man operation since 2012, Aanchal takes part in several fashion exhibitions here in Dubai, while also maintaining an ever-growing clientele boasting a mix of different nationalities. Her clothes are a breath of fresh air, and allude to an “easy to wear” style, in contrast to the haute couture market that is the general trend here. Take a look at our spirited conversation:
What’s the best advice you have ever received?
That has to be my dad. The only thing that he has told me is “Take one step at a time, don’t jump. Don’t be disheartened when there are hardships along the way.” That is the only thing that has kept me going because I have started from scratch. Whether it’s learning how to handle your tailors, your clients and even technicalities of clothes, I have had experience.
I have noticed the use of bold colors in your designs – where does this inspiration come from?
Honestly, I cannot work with black and white outfits. I think it is just my personality. Maybe your black outfit makes you look sexy, but colors make you look happy, and that is more important for me! It’s how I am as a person.
Tell us a little bit about your photo-shoots – they are different from other fashion houses out there, I believe.
I feel like if you have good-looking family and friends, why would you hire professional models?! I am more comfortable with the people I know so they model for me, and they are happy to do it because it’s a new experience for them. Our photo-shoots don’t have fixed hours; sometimes they go on for an entire day, because it’s so much fun.
Which designers do you look up to?
I love Manish Arora. I think our Indian designers are much more talented compared to the Western world and very daring when it comes to fashion. Arpita Mehta, Anushree Reddy and Nikhil Thampi are a few among the young generation of designers I really like.
Any advice for fellow designers who aspire to run their own labels?
Just work hard – it is not easy. A lot of people think that fashion is a piece of cake – it’s just making clothes, which a tailor can do too, but a tailor cannot design your clothes, or pair them for you and tell you how to wear them. There is a lot of demand for fashion here, whether it’s locals or expats, because cultures are so diverse. There is a mix of everything. It is definitely a good place to start from. Just don’t give up.
How did you get into fashion designing?
A lot of people don’t believe me, but I’ve really only wanted to do this since as I was in grade 7. I told my parents that this is what I wanted to do, and they supported me. I don’t think I had the need to think of anything else as a career option. I have studied commerce as a backup in school.
Your dream client?
Sonam Kapoor (Bollywood actor) – hands down, hands up, hands wide open! I just want her to wear one outfit of mine – not because I love her, but I love the way she carries clothes.
Tell me a little about your background in fashion. Where did the training begin?
I have a 3-year B.A degree in fashion design and pattern drafting from Esmod. What really motivated me to continue was when I won the “Best Designer” Award upon my graduation – that was a boost. After that I worked with Sohad Acouri, a haute couture designer very popular here in UAE. That is where I realized that bling and fancy wedding gowns is not my cup of tea, and I felt the need to start something on my own.
Is this how Aakarshan happened?
When I graduated, there weren’t a lot of opportunities in Dubai to work in a fashion house, and the ones I got were ones I wasn’t interested in; such as sales girl in a store or in the back office somewhere – nothing to do with design. What I did not want to lose at that point was my designing skills. Also, my dad thought I was worth much more than what I was getting offered then. So I decided I needed to do my own thing – for me it was offering people something that is easily accessible and wearable. I am not a big fan of couture.
If you were not doing this, you would be..
Everyone now knows your brand, Aakarshan. Tell me something about yourself.
I am a boy (chuckles) – none of my friends consider me a girl because I am their “bro”! If you give me a chance, I would really go to a club in my pyjamas with no make up on!
Aakarshan as a name is intriguing. What was the idea behind it?
It was my dad! I did not want to self name my brand, so he guided me to this name. He said “why don’t you think of a word which everybody would remember, think of something that explains your designs”. It means attraction, because I am attracted to so many colors.
Check out a selection of Aanchal’s collection for women and men: