March 18, 2017 Asmita Aggarwal

The Outsider

Abhishek Paatni’s enterprising designs for Nought One and Zero highlight the growing opportunity for designers in Indian menswear. He is all set to present his new collection—which merges streetwear with military-inspired clothing and promises to breathe life in corduroy

By Asmita Aggarwal

For engineer turned designer Abhishek Paatni of Zero and Nought One—it is commerce that has and will always overtake the creative side of the business. Perhaps, this can be credited to his MBA degree that helped him learn the core of marketing and branding, his hands-on experience at Mr. Button, an e-commerce portal, that helped him learn the craft of clothing, the economic recession in 2009 that was taking a toll on this millennial or his venture into modelling (one was a catalogue-shoot for designers Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna)—the rules are crystal-clear for him—sales first, fame later.

For his upcoming show at Amazon India Fashion Week, supported by Nexa, Paatni will be presenting his designs with 6 other designers—Dhruv Vaish, Kommal and Ratul Sood, Pawan Sachdeva, Rohit Kamra and Sahil Aneja. All the participating designers will be interpreting the same theme—black, white and chrome. Paatni reveals, “My signature style combines streetwear with military-inspired or utilitarian clothing. So, expect bomber-jackets, capes and active-wear in distressed denim, faux leather, mesh and faux fur. I have also interpreted corduroy—which is often associated with loose grandpa jackets—into sweatshirts and sweatpants.”

Paatni’s enterprising approach towards Nought One and Zero started with extensive research into this market—and he believes that menswear has a cool future. He says, “In a few years, people in their late 20s will have maximum disposable income as compared to the previous generation—and this demographic is going to be the biggest in the country.” The Delhi-based designer believes that clients are becoming more aware—thanks to social media. “More and more clients ask for pocket-squares instead of pocket-hankies,” he discloses. However, Paatni also feels that there aren’t many fearless menswear designers in India. But, he adds, “I think this might change in the near future.” This is probably the reason why his secondary brand, Zero, focuses on client-based products and are priced competitively.

As he is driving to work, I ask this young designer—who plans to hire a Sales Strategist before a design team— “What is holding you back?” And, he sighs, “Funds.” He continues as he paints the reality that, perhaps, most upcoming designers in India are facing, “It is a difficult place to survive. I hate seeing brands shutting down or losing their roots and identity. That is why I have my Plan B in place. I would like to open a bike modification unit if this fails.” It is for sure that Paatni does not live in a make-believe world. His vision for Nought One and Zero is realistic. And, as far as his next goal is concerned—he hopefully concludes, “I wish I could go to work without worrying about rent soon.” Let’s hope this day arrives sooner than later.

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