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