AN-Y1 – with Anu Hinduja & Nandita Mahtani

Words:
Sandy Aziz

Start your engines! We are heading towards the intersection of fashion and sports, a topic that has been refuelled by the release of the sports drama film Challengers and brand-sponsored Formula 1 activation. In particular, moto jackets and jumpsuits have completely infiltrated our wardrobes. Meet Anu Hinduja and Nandita Mahtani, the dynamic sister duo behind the sports luxe “it” brand, AN-Y1. Not only did Anu previously own fashion boutiques in two of London’s hotspots, Knightsbridge and Notting Hill, but her client roster included Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, and more. Meanwhile, Nandita created a staple beachwear brand within the Indian market. With 30 years of fashion experience, the pair teamed up with Gulf in the name of fashion and the world of vintage motorsports to bring us AN-Y1. From the racetrack to the fashion runway, the brand elevates sports luxe. Featuring a Designer Moto Jacket and Racing Inspired Women’s Jumpsuit, Anu and Nandita have also just launched monogrammed loungewear made of 100% pure silk. Read our interview with creative directors of AN-Y1 Anu and Nandita below as we delve into their impressive careers, influences, and passions.

Sandy Aziz: You both ventured into the fashion industry almost two decades ago; congratulations on all the success! You both have impressive resumes, apart from clothing, such as art exhibitions, interior design, or helping launch major fashion houses in India. Growing up, did you both know you wanted to be creatives? Do you remember the moment it clicked for both of you?
Anu Hinduja: I didn’t know, but I have always had an eye for beautiful things. I started with Interior Design – I used to have pop-ups that sold home interior pieces such as frames etc and I then got into promoting Indian artists. Then one day when I was in India, I thought of doing kaftans and kurtas with embroidery. I thought there was a niche in the market for good/unique beachwear. I named the Kaftan queen. After that, there was no looking back. I did my brand Ananya for 15 years.
Nandita Mahtani:
Thank you! I think we were both exposed to fashion and the arts at a very young age. Growing up we always saw our grandmother and then our mother perfectly yet fashionably dressed, so I think because of their influence we were naturally drawn and inclined towards all things creative and beautiful. I was completing a business degree, so I didn’t plan it but working in fashion just happened to me. I started a multi-designer boutique in Delhi and then gradually started my brand, which celebrated 20 years this January.
SA: You were both born in Mumbai; how has your motherland’s culture influenced the work you both produce?
AH: My beachwear is influenced by India, embellished with Rhinestones, sequences, mirrors and all beautiful things Indian. Some An-y1 products are made in India too. Their craftsmanship is one of the best available out there.
NM: I’m completely influenced by our age-old embroideries which are done by craftsmen who have inherited the art from many generations before them. I love to combination of Western silhouettes with Indian embellishment and embroidery.  
SA: AN-Y1 is a contemporary Sports Luxe brand founded by you both. Is this the first brand you’ve collaborated on? If so, how did this come about?
AH:
Yes, it’s probably the first time we have worked together on a brand. It came about because we loved the Gulf logo and I thought we could design some cool pieces around it and Formula 1. It’s also a very unique product.
SA: There’s been much online discourse on the new film Challengers, which shines a light on contemporary luxe sportswear brands. Do you think fashion is taking the hype for streetwear to a much more elevated level?
AH:
I think more now than ever sports luxe is more in demand. Everyone wants to be comfortable yet look cool and effortless.
NM:
I think it has been happening much before the hype of this film, but yes films as well as celebrities do influence trends in a big way. We have some great streetwear brands today which are very much on everyone’s must-have lists and that’s also because it’s a great mix of comfort and style!
SA: Anu, you moved to London for your education in 1991. What was it about the city that made you stay all these years?
AH:
London is an amazing attraction. I love the freedom of the city and the diversity of the people. I met interesting people that I hadn’t met before, and the weather, believe it or not, I like the cold. As Oscar Wilde said, if you’re tired of London you’re tired of life. One can never get bored. I always got inspiration from just walking around, visiting museums, parks, galleries, restaurants, pubs, the theatre, the markets, and fashion shows. The list is endless, I could never leave this beautiful city. 
  1. SA: Ananya was the go-to resort wear brand for many familiar faces, such as Madonna, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell. It was launched 20 years ago and had Notting Hill and Knightsbridge stores. What’s the transition like from designing resort wear to contemporary sportswear?
    AH: Life was all about more is more back then. Designing kaftans/beachwear is all about the colours, embellishments and dressing up! Nowadays, the look is more casual and all about comfort. Sportswear is modern and now. It’s what people want, and I guess moving with the times is the only way forward.

 

  1. SA: Your impressive repertoire includes roles as a designer, stylist, interior decorator, and brand consultant. Could you share some insights into your current projects in these fields? How do you juggle these diverse roles while maintaining your mental well-being?
    NH: I love anything creative! If I get an opportunity which enables total creative freedom, I am always ready to take it on. Sometimes I’ve taken on too much at once, but I think I have grown up a bit now and know when to say No! I have reached a point where I must have fun in whatever I do.

 

  1. SA: You decided to spend the early years of your career in India while Anu resided in London. Please share why/how you made this decision.
    NH: I was born and brought up in India, life had plans for me and I went with it! I still very much live there and love living there but I do need to constantly travel to get inspired.
Words: Sandy Aziz
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