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Anam Pa­tel: Push­ing The En­ve­lope

When ANAM PA­TEL couldn’t find the kind of jew­ellery that she wanted in stores, she de­cided to cre­ate them her­self. Armed with a back­ground in mar­ket­ing and hos­pi­tal­ity, Anam dived head­long into launch­ing her own brand of fash­ion ac­ces­sories, Anom­aly by Anam, in 2016.

Anam had no prior knowl­edge of the jew­ellery in­dus­try and started with a blank slate, us­ing the method of trial and er­ror to en­sure that her vi­sion turned into re­al­ity.

Anam’s jew­els are bold and make a state­ment. She also con­sid­ers the hu­man body to be her can­vas and jew­ellery as the muse. Apart from the usual chok­ers, rings and bracelets, Anam has de­signed body or­na­ments in­clud­ing a shin har­ness. While she feels the av­er­age In­dian is not yet ready to ex­per­i­ment with new or­na­ments, she will con­tinue to do her bit in push­ing the bound­aries to ex­per­i­ment with out-of-the­box jew­ellery.

Anam speaks to ALIYA LADHABHOY about ush­er­ing in a new era of con­tem­po­rary jew­ellery.

When and why did you de­cide to launch your own jew­ellery brand? Tell us more about your Eureka mo­ment.

Af­ter work­ing in a few dif­fer­ent fields, I de­cided to fi­nally do some­thing of my own, some­thing I’m pas­sion­ate about and that I see my­self do­ing in the long-run. For as long as I can re­mem­ber, I have been in awe of all the dif­fer­ent types of jew­ellery out there in the world, very dif­fer­ent from what we were used to see­ing in In­dia. In fact, a lot of the times at home, I would take apart a few older pieces and cre­ate brand new pieces us­ing those com­po­nents. So I guess it was a com­bi­na­tion of my pas­sion and a gap in the mar­ket for the kind of pieces I wish were avail­able, that led to the cre­ation of my brain­child – Anom­aly by Anam.

Ini­tially, did you find it dif­fi­cult to en­ter the jew­ellery in­dus­try? Was it hard to trans­form your de­signs from pa­per to fin­ished prod­uct?

In re­cent years, the jew­ellery mar­ket for cos­tume, or im­i­ta­tion jew­ellery as they call it, has be­come ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive. So yes, there was bound to be slight dif­fi­culty in en­ter­ing the in­dus­try, es­pe­cially since I had no prior knowl­edge or ex­pe­ri­ence in the same. Trans­form­ing my de­signs from pa­per into the fin­ished prod­uct was def­i­nitely a te­dious process. Due to the in­no­va­tive na­ture and un­ex­plored tech­ni­cal as­pects of the pieces, there was a lot of trial and er­ror be­fore we got it right. From the type of metal al­loys to be used, to the ideal sizes, to sus­tain­able fin­ishes, all had to be just per­fect, mak­ing it a long and ar­du­ous process. But I have learnt ev­ery­thing I now know about the man­u­fac­tur­ing process whilst on the job.

Your jew­ellery is bold and makes a state­ment. Does this re­flect your per­son­al­ity as well?

My jew­ellery re­flects a mix­ture of my per­son­al­ity as well as ex­ter­nal fac­tors such as the peo­ple I know and ad­mire as well as art, cul­ture, po­etry and the var­i­ous books I read. My per­son­al­ity is an amal­ga­ma­tion of var­i­ous traits.Yes, I am bold and out­go­ing to an ex­tent, but I also love my soli­tude and am easy-go­ing. The pieces I de­sign are state­ment pieces which are meant to be shown off, but I usu­ally en­vi­sion them worn with a sim­ple ensem­ble. So I guess you’d say it would be the one stand-out piece of an oth­er­wise sim­ple pic­ture. In a way, my jew­ellery rep­re­sents who I am as well as who I choose to be­come.

Tell us more about your brand phi­los­o­phy.

In­no­va­tions in fash­ion are driven by dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives. For me, I look at the whole body as a can­vas, and jew­ellery plays a muse. My brand re­flects ex­per­i­men­tal­ism and an el­e­ment of bold­ness.

It has been a year since you launched your la­bel. Take us through some of your highs and lows.

Due to my ex­tremely limited knowl­edge of this in­dus­try, the en­tire process from con­cep­tu­al­i­sa­tion to com­ple­tion of a prod­uct was a mas­sive learn­ing curve for me. I have learnt that when start­ing your own busi­ness, pa­tience is key. Also, be­ing able to bal­ance the cre­ative and busi­ness side of my brand was not as easy as I thought it would be. The re­sponse that I have re­ceived from peo­ple in the fash­ion in­dus­try was over­whelm­ing. A num­ber of multi-de­signer stores across the coun­try ap­proached me to stock my de­signs and mul­ti­ple stylists have com­mended my work.

I be­lieve one of the ma­jor hur­dles I am cur­rently fac­ing is that my jew­ellery is per­ceived as only ed­i­to­rial, or too state­ment for an av­er­age In­dian per­son to pull off. How­ever, In­dia is def­i­nitely catch­ing up with the rest of the world, so it’s only a mat­ter of time with a push from de­sign­ers like me that will pro­pel In­dia to beat par with the world in the ac­ces­sories in­dus­try in­ter­na­tion­ally.

What in­spired you to cen­tre your sec­ond col­lec­tion on the Mandala?

One of my main de­sign in­spi­ra­tions is world his­tory and cul­ture. The ‘Mandala’ is an in­te­gral part of Bud­dhist cul­ture. The in­tri­cate beauty of the sym­bol com­bined with its mean­ing made it a per­fect stim­u­lus for my de­signs. The sym­bol sig­ni­fies whole­ness or com­plete­ness. Us­ing this as a de­sign in­spi­ra­tion and ty­ing it in with our ide­ol­ogy re­sulted in the cre­ation of the Mandala col­lec­tion. It goes on to re­flect our brand phi­los­o­phy of con­stant in­no­va­tion since it also sym­bol­ises the no­tion that life is never-end­ing, just as the un­ceas­ing pro­gres­sion of fash­ion, and my per­pet­ual yearn­ing to ad­vance cre­atively.

How has the re­sponse been to your col­lec­tion?

The re­sponse to the Mandala col­lec­tion has been ex­tremely pos­i­tive. A lot of the pieces have been de­signed to be worn in more than one way, giv­ing peo­ple more value for their money. Also, it is wed­ding sea­son in In­dia and peo­ple are now favour­ing funky cos­tume jew­ellery as op­posed to tra­di­tional jew­ellery, which has worked in my favour.

What is your per­sonal style?

My per­sonal style is highly de­pen­dent on my mood, but it can mostly be de­fined as sub­tle with a sprin­kle of edge. It would fall on both ex­tremes of the spec­trum. If I had to de­fine it, I’d say ‘hobo chic’ or ‘in your face’, with no mid­dle ground. As I men­tioned be­fore, when I cre­ate dif­fer­ent looks for my­self or oth­ers, I usu­ally try to fo­cus on one thing I want to high­light, which in my case is usu­ally the ac­ces­sories. The key is not to overdo it.

Your jew­ellery has been en­dorsed by sev­eral celebri­ties. Was this a de­lib­er­ate mar­ket­ing strat­egy or did it just hap­pen?

Hon­estly, it just hap­pened. In this coun­try, celebri­ties set the fash­ion trends and are al­ways in the pub­lic eye. Stylists are con­stantly look­ing for new things and I guess the unique­ness of my de­signs caught their at­ten­tion. It’s al­ways ex­cit­ing to see how they put ev­ery­thing to­gether.

Your col­lec­tion also com­prises shin har­nesses. How has the re­sponse been? Do you think the av­er­age In­dian is open to ex­per­i­ment­ing with un­usual body or­na­ments?

Yes, the shin har­nesses! It is my ab­so­lute pride but also my big­gest hur­dle. It has def­i­nitely piqued the in­ter­est of the peo­ple and some of them are quite sur­prised by the idea of it. It has gen­er­ated a lot of buzz, but at the same time, I be­lieve the av­er­age In­dian is not yet ready to ex­per­i­ment to this level. Iwill con­stantly en­cour­age peo­ple to be more ex­pres­sive and bold with their fash­ion choices, and more im­por­tantly, to be­lieve that jew­ellery is not just an ac­ces­sory, but a fash­ion state­ment.

One piece of jew­ellery that is close to your heart.

It’s re­ally dif­fi­cult to choose be­tween two pieces that have sen­ti­men­tal value for me – my first ring gifted to me by my par­ents for my eigh­teenth birth­day and a vin­tage locket from a Lon­don mar­ket given to me by my sis­ter.

Which is your favourite piece from the Mandala col­lec­tion?

That’s tricky, but if I re­ally had to choose just one, it would be ‘Bodhi’, the con­tem­po­rary choker from the Mandala col­lec­tion.

Who is your favourite jew­ellery de­signer?

It is nearly im­pos­si­ble to choose one de­signer since there are so many who are show­cas­ing their art and ta­lent across the globe. All the de­sign­ers that I ad­mire are unique and dif­fi­cult to com­pare. That be­ing said, Gigi Mar­i­ani, Roberto Coin, Shi­ran Shashua, Polina Sa­pouna El­lis, Mari Fu­naki are some of the de­sign­ers who top my list. I also love Alexan­der McQueen and Givenchy, two fash­ion de­sign­ers who have also di­ver­si­fied into jew­ellery.

What’s next on the agenda? I want to make my brand an in­ter­na­tional one. n

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