Denim meets wool, as colour symbolises the incoming of new leaves and hope floats in Gaurav Khanijo’s menswear line
By Asmita Aggarwal
Like all 80s kids, Gaurav Khanijo grew up in the Capital surrounded by the retail space that his grandfather, also his idol, set up painstakingly. Two shops in the city’s first air conditioned mall, Palika Bazaar sold fabrics and later tees, it became his learning ground. This was a gold mine for a young man studying in Modern School, who after 2pm everyday was promptly picked up by his father and taken to see how business works, being the eldest son. But for Gaurav it was the thrill of buying video games later in the evening after they shut shop that excited him.
“My dad was a really stylish man, he always knew how to mix and blend to accentuate his look, though he was the only one among his five brothers who wanted to actually sell designed ensembles,” he admits. His family had dyeing plants and made jerseys, Gaurav was the one who took the lead and launched his store in Mehrauli way back in 2015.
As a young, impressionable kid he remembers playing on rolls of fabric, watching his dad learn Russian to cater to a horde of tourists coming to Palika and later diversify into wool (sweater and cardigans). “I remember at the end of the 90s, I learnt about Indian designers and what they were doing. I didn’t get into NIFT so I opted for Pearl which was a blessing in disguise as I got fabulous exposure there and graduated at the top of my class. I was really nervous when my entire family showed up for my show,” he confesses.
This was despite the fact that his father was not in favour of Gaurav pursuing fashion design, but his mother supported him. Not taking things for granted, he wanted to learn more; he travelled to Tirupur, and observed garment making and how to set up and run a factory, and came back and did just that, but in the process making many mistakes.
His first dive into the fashion world was with a street style label aptly titled “Devi Brain”, even though he wasn’t courting feminists, he laughs. It sold trench coats, jackets, and ribbed jerseys. Marriage to Amrita Thakur in 2010, changed his outlook and under DB Clothing he launched his menswear label in 2011. “I have always loved fabrics, and had to restrain myself from going overboard. Recently, I travelled to Nepal to procure hemp, bamboo and tencel. This time for FDCI X LFW I worked with wool and denim, though cashmere and silks have been my favourites,” he asserts.
In keeping with the times, Gaurav has launched his e-commerce website, as “still want to be in the game despite the setbacks and closing my store last year” and has understood that men don’t care about quantity but quality. They are looking for investment pieces to wear over a period of time. They are also open to advice on colours and patterns that works for them, that’s why he wanted to try something interesting with his folk, hippie, voluminous yet futuristic line. “I loved doing the outdoor-sy look, texture play executed with leftover threads and frayed finishes, this time,” he explains. This is different from his ethnic line that has balance with no asymmetry, just timeless offerings that are sketched first and then designed, the conventional way.
Though his Khadi line created out of blankets, was quite novel, takes him back to the time when in school he was told Gandhiji had recommended the fabric of freedom to be used for uniforms and the colour blue. “I had earlier worked with Khadi when I did my first line in collaboration with KVIC. I wanted a Japanese influence, comfy and functional for this line. As social media takes over our lifestyles, men know they need to dress smart. And after 30 years is when they truly are open to buying intelligently and are not controlled by fads,” he concludes.