“ANAIKKA is a Feminist Brand,” Says Kanika
“ANAIKKA is a Feminist Brand,” Says Kanika
She is strong, she is confident and her 3-year-old label Anaikka, which has metal and leather at the forefront, speaks her language perfectly. A willing dropout of FIT, the designer completely shuns the importance of fashion schools and stresses that creativity is not something that can be taught.
Defying all the rules that have ever been written in the rulebook of a designer, Kanika Saluja in an exclusive conversation with FFT opens up about her design journey from New York to India.
FFT: Your Label Anaikka reflects a strong feminist ideology. Is that how you wish your clients to perceive it?
Kanika: Yes Anaikka has a very strong outlook. It basically embodies the essence of all women. It means – Ek Aurat ke Anaik Roop! A woman with many attributes like Durga, Kali and who is the creator and destroyer of life. We as a brand target women in the same way. We are moralistic and ethical in our approach of doing things and our principles reflect in the work we do as well and that’s precisely why my collections are generally all done in metal and leather. Suppleness of the fabric conjoint with the organicity of leather and infinite strength that metal represents, definitely forms a force to reckon with.
We follow it up by working with NGOs and creating awareness among women, keeping self-defence as one of the major working areas.icon-music
FFT: Does Anaikka follow any particular trend? What are the elements that influence your creative design process?
Kanika: Our silhouettes are generally very simple and flattering. We don’t do anything that is very provocative. Every single piece that we do has both masculine and feminine touch. This applies to our dresses as well, as most have very heavy metal detailing, giving off a very powerful and masculine look.
We basically make clothes largely for women who are in their 30s and these women are not skinny or scrawny; they are curvaceous and experimental.
Naturally our pieces too are made in such a way that anybody in any size can wear Anaikka and still look good in them. We draw inspiration from architectural and industrial shapes and also from sci-fi technology, gadgets and sometimes even the junkyard.icon-music
FFT: You were running your own label ‘Nikka’ in New York for about 10 years… What made you to opt out of it?
Kanika: Nikka is also my nickname. I started the label around 13 years back with a partner. At that time we worked with almost all the major stores and celebrities including Paris Hilton, Rihanna, Ashanti and Tyra Banks.
However, it was a contemporary brand and contemporary bores me. Being into Goth and rock, I always wanted to do something edgy; something that has both masculine and feminine edge to it, which my partner and investor didn’t want to do. The difference in our thought process and sensibility lead me to opt out of it.
Kanika: I don’t want to sell 10,000 pieces to everyone, I want to be novel, very niche, luxurious and limited. Do you see everybody wearing Chanel? Can everybody afford it? Similarly Anaikka is as a very expensive and niche brand, people cannot afford to have ten of our pieces in their wardrobe, they will at the max have two. In fact, I don’t even want them to have ten things and that’s why we generally unlike others do not sell too many things to a particular customer.
FFT: How are your relations in the US market? Are you looking to tap into any new zone or product category?
Kanika: I always shared a healthy relationship with America and it is only growing stronger with my new contract with a showroom in Los Angeles. There people pay for quality and I am known to come true to their expectations.
Australia is another market that I am looking to get into, as I am already manufacturing for a lot of designers there who are doing pretty well. So why should I not try it out, I will be 50 per cent cheaper than them!
The category that I am really looking to get into is Bridal but not Indian Bridal, I tried but I couldn’t. World over bridal as a market is growing rapidly so I am actually thinking of taking it on.
FFT: How difficult was it to set up a factory in India after spending almost a decade in New York?
Kanika: It was very difficult!!! First, Anaikka being an expensive brand called for a lot of investment. Secondly, the quality of labour here is very poor. In India, tailors do not have the basic understanding of finishing, which is why I have to be 150 per cent involved in the production process.
The good thing for me is that I got to learn from the best craftsmen while I was in New York and that helped me mentor my tailors here.
The third challenge in India is to make the clients pay for the quality, as Indian stores and customers do not understand value or have any understanding on how to differentiate between poorly finished and well-finished products. There is a lot of hard work that goes into making a product; we should at least learn to respect it.
Photographer & Videographer : Tauseef Jamal