From couture, art to now menswear, Viraj and Vishesh Khanna have infused a sporty vibe into their new launch, gently nudging men to experiment with individualistic style.
By Asmita Aggarwal
“When I create art, I reflect on the world around me. When we, as a family make clothing, it is for the wearer to feel in a certain way. I think the purposes are totally different, but aesthetics are aligned. My artwork in the form of collages, are used as prints for our menswear, or other AK-OK outfits,” says Viraj Khanna as he opened the FDCIXLFW Fashion Week in Mumbai.
When you come from a family of creative individuals you will always love the esoteric world, a space where you find potent means of communication. “My mother didn’t teach me” an exhibition of sculptures was Viraj Khanna’s attempt to carve his own identity despite a towering figure like Anamika Khanna being his mother. He is the more communicative out of the two, Vishesh is quieter, and Viraj has been interested in collage work since school—cutting magazines creating exaggerated figures with multiple faces to reflect the world we reside in, mirroring our vulnerabilities.
The twins, therefore, gave a befitting start to the fashion extravaganza, as their youthful vibe set the right tone. But there are challenges when you launch a new label coming from a legendary family that is celebrated for its couture. “The challenge never came from being foremost a couture house. AK-OK was born out of a challenging personal time for our family, and a need to truly adapt the philosophy of ‘It’s A-OK’, as the expression goes,” says Viraj.
The sons adapted this expression to comfort Anamika Khanna in her time of a health crisis and appropriated the expression to ‘Everything is AK-OK’. “Once we saw the simplicity and wisdom of this mantra, the challenges turned into a free expression of creativity that led to our pret designer brand called AK-OK,” he admits.
The new menswear launched was a break from the traditionally serious, staid and corporate look. “While this is truly changing in the global as well as the homegrown designer space, AK-OK brings a relaxed, whimsical vibe. AK-OK menswear is for men who love to experiment, adapt and curate their own expression of style. There are bomber jackets, co-ords, crisp white kurtas that root you in the traditional, and yet take you into the flights of the whimsical,” he adds.
AK-OK’s design language is to perpetually challenge structure, form and even perfection. The silhouettes embrace asymmetry, shreds, rips, peeps, while never abandoning structure. The collection includes form-fitted and fluid ensembles. “Each collection has had a few pieces that include shoulder pads, yet dropped shoulders, clean hems as well as uneven ones. Questioning the rules doesn’t mean abandoning them. This, we find, is the gateway to creativity,” says Viraj.
All AK-OK silhouettes, when worn, will make you feel comfortably luxurious as the same outfit seamlessly can take you from a beach, to a flight, and a gala, making you feel comfortable and stylish throughout. “Our material explorations always lead us to fabrics like silks, satins, denims cottons – anything that simultaneously creates as tactile an experience, as a statement of style,” he says.
The line revolves around luxury athleisure, capturing the sentiment of the post-pandemic world. Yet they are not an athleisure brand. “We don’t believe we fit perfectly into any genre or category that exists and therefore we feel the freedom to seamlessly create a melange of a collection where there is something for everyone. What we truly love and enjoy about AK-OK is for the wearer to truly drape our pieces and style them, as they like. We don’t dictate how they should look, making them take charge of their own expression of style, This, we believe, is truly unique about AK-OK,” he concludes.