Just like the meaning of its name bhane. is rising to great heights, like the sun. bhane. in Gurumukhi means the rising sun, says Anand Ahuja, the founder of bhane. He quips how he initially didn’t like the name, but it stuck. He wasn’t exactly happy with how it sounded, its innumerable pronunciations and spellings, but now he loves it, because people don’t know what it means and so they can approach the brand with untainted eyes.
Anand’s not completely sure on how he would describe himself as a person but he says he aspires to be driven, passionate, grateful, accommodating and forward thinking. Looking at this, he is certain that he is one of the big dreamers.
bhane. is just a year old. “bhane. has a traditional meaning but in the context of our brand it has no meaning. What it stands for is the idea that the brand name doesn’t matter, what matters is how people see our product and how they perceive the brand. It is a word not many people know and so they can enter our experience with an open mind. People can say it differently and take it to mean different things.”, says Anand. The brand runs on a simple philosophy i.e. to be respectful and considerate of people but also be a thought leader in how to express individuality, build confidence and spread joy.
Rasna Bhasin tries decoding The Simple Man, Anand ‘bhane.’ Ahuja’s Anthem in this interview.
R: How would you describe bhane. as a brand?
A: bhane. is a brand that aims to facilitate the expression of individuality. It is a brand that aims to build confidence in personality of people and most of all, it is a brand that hopes to build and distribute a notion of unadulterated joy.
R: You took the opposite route, you went online first and now you’re opening up your first store, was it a conscious decision?
A: Yes and no. It was conscious in that going online, we wanted to test our product in different markets in India, that would let us establish a web presence that we thought would grow at tremendous rates. Once we got a proof of concept and design, we thought to open a space where we can test different ideas and interact more directly with our customers.
R: Do you feel bhane. sort of fills in a gap for the consumers, between high-street and luxury?
A: There certainly is a big gap in the market., in fact there is more than one. India is a very young retail market and I think there is plenty of opportunity. For bhane., yes, the brand certainly does try to provide an option to people that is of superior quality but at a price that is considerate of what people are able and willing to spend.
A: Its tough to say because there is such a connotation with what fashion is so given that, I would say not. But I do live and breathe individuality and confidence and a personal style.
R: And how exactly would you describe Anand Ahuja’s style?
A: I would like to claim it as versatile in that I like to wear different styles of clothing…but really I think its developed into something that is predominantly casual. I like pops of colour and quirkiness mixed with clean silhouettes and carefully planned details.
R: How important is the Internet in the dialogue with your audience (in terms of social media)?
A:The internet is absolutely crucial. Our brand is young and the people that influence our brand are young. We started online and some of our biggest inspiration was from online blogs and online sites. An online dialogue is instant and it is what people feel comfortable sharing with and so it is extremely important for our brand.
R: bhane. is always linked back to you, since it’s your baby, do you personally feel you’ve to constantly be a brand ambassador for the brand in the public’s eye?
A: I think for people that know bhane. a little more intimately, they may know me but I like to think that bhane. has grown to a point where it isn’t necessarily related back to me, and rightfully so because it truly has been and continues to be a team effort. I contribute only a fraction to what bhane. is as a brand today.
R: Who is the bhane. customer according to you?
A: Its a young professional person that is just, looking for product that they can wear without overthinking and use it to express their style.
R: You are a lot into fitness and basketball, would you throw some light on what interests you?
A: My true love is basketball…watching is great but there is nothing like playing it. I love everything about it from its competitive nature to its team building aspect to its requirement for athleticism. I also enjoy running as an individual sport. I find it very liberating and a great way to achieve a sort of “active meditation”. I enjoy yoga a lot also. It started off as a rehabilitation process for injuries but now I am a big believer in it as a regular practice. I have also done a little bit of boxing and muay thai and I am a big fan of the latter in how it requires speed, strength and flexibility.
A: Not necessarily, what is necessary is persistence, patience and direction.
R: Is success a key to happiness?
A: Happiness is a key to success, cliche? But true, also gratitude is the key to happiness so I guess by inference, gratitude is the key to success.
R: Did you ever imagine, bhane. would be such a huge success?
A: bhane. is very young and we have been very blessed for such a wonderful response…we still have A LOT of work to do and huge aspirations for the brand!
R: Can success and constant flattery be distracting?
A: Sure, but so can failure. They say “you’re never as good as they say you are when you win and you’re never as bad as they say you are when you lose.”
R: We’ve heard you make a cool boss, does it come naturally, or you were born a team leader?
A: Cool boss doesn’t always mean effective.I’m learning to balance the two. I love team dynamics though, so that is something I take great pride in.
R: What role does travelling play in your life?
A: I’m very happy being in a routine and staying put. I do enjoy travelling but not as much as a lot of people I know. But traveling does have a great impact on me in helping me gain perspective and refocus.
R: How would you describe your current state of mind?
A: Restless a lot of times, maybe this is also why I try to be as active as possible.
R: What’s your ultimate dream?
A: The honest answer: To Dunk a basketball (in a 10 foot rim)…and ideally not just once but to have the ability to do it in a game.
R: A person you would love to see wearing bhane.?
A: Anyone, especially someone I don’t know! Also, I’m a huge Pharrell and Will Smith fan so either of them?
R: What’s your anthem?
A: The first thing that came to my head is “Bad Boys” theme song. The second is “Three Little Birds” by Marley. Don’t ask why.
Check out bhane. here.
Pictures by Aman Makkar for Grey Goose India.
Interview from student magazine, ANTEM