Born to celebrated designer Anamika Khanna, twins Viraj and Vishesh both studied in Mumbai and then went onto USC for their undergrad—Vishesh studied Economics and Psychology, while Viraj studied Business. Fashion would have been the obvious choice to make, but that was not the case. Back then, their dreams were centred around sports, with equal priority given to education. ‘Fashion, of course, always lurked around somewhere in our lives,’ Viraj tells me. ‘But as we grew up, it kept creeping into different parts of our lives and now we are totally consumed by it.’
But what were the home dynamics like, with Anamika Khanna as their mother? ‘She has given us the freedom to fly and has supported us in whatever we wanted. Watching her work has been an inspiration. Even in the middle of fashion Week, she would leave work and sit down to teach us, travel with us for golf tournaments...we watch her wake up early in the morning every single day and sleep late working,’ says Viraj. Interestingly they both never studied never fashion and are now the new face of the brand, taking forward the celebrated legacy. ‘Yes, we are not from a fashion background, never studied design or fashion in terms of education. But it always felt like we’re made for it. All our ideas are accepted by our mother...the only thing that bugs her is our sense of timing!’
As designers, V&V are only one collection old. Have you noticed a sudden surge of young energy in Anamika Khanna’s latest creations? They’re the reason behind it. They joined the brand merely four months ago. Remember Sonam and Rhea Kapoor wearing the AK-OK collection? Yes, that came from the boys. ‘Having grown up watching mum’s designs, our sensibilities automatically align with hers but what differs is that we understand the new millennial...the changes in fashion around the world. We see the changes in streetwear and are influenced by Travis Scott and 21 Savage,’ explains Viraj. Somewhere in their aesthetic, you can feel the energy and madness.
‘Fortunately mum has accepted our inputs till now,’ laughs Viraj. For now, they are taking baby steps into the fashion world. First up is there ready-to-wear collection and eventually they hope to add more and more verticals to the portfolio—menswear is already in the pipeline.
So what can we expect from the new collection? ‘In our ready to wear collection which we are launching very soon, you will see an influence of hip hop culture in a very big way. We have always heard mom say that the millennial is not so interested in Indian wear because they do not find it cool. This journey started with the Indian sport collection that she showed in 2015 which was an experiment and widely accepted. Carrying the same thought forward, we were keen to come up with another collection that kept up with the massive change in fashion across the world. In the meantime, mum suffered from a major health issue and went through phases where she felt things were not okay. This was when we would have conversations—everything would be “a-ok” and one fine day it was more like everything would be “Ak- ok”. It just stuck with us and when she got better that was the first thing we wanted to do—launch the AK-OK collection.’
Text Hansika lohani Mehtani
VIRAJ & VISHESH KHANNA