This week I been in a reflective mood, looking back at old photos of my grandparents, parents and beyond and I wanted to share elements of their story that consequently make up my story and the inspirations for the brand & designs.
I try to stay behind the scenes of the brand and let my imagery and designs do the talking however as the brand grows the realisation that I embody every part of it's journey becomes clearer. So here is the first snippet... where it all began...
I was born and raised in Wembley, North West London. Spent most of my holidays and weekends with my grandmother near Ealing road. A typical British Asian high street of London with Sari shops, fruit and veg stands and of course loud bhangra music blaring. This was a contrast to my life at home with my parents, where 2 years after I was born they were on the tremendous journey of taking the leap of starting their own menswear business in the very 'posh' English setting of Jermyn Street near Savile Row. My parent's both worked in retail most of their lives however when they came to this country from East Africa where they were both born, they started off work in the UK as labourers working in factories. Their work progression is an inspiration given that neither of them really pursued education after they were 15/16 years old.
(mum's wearing a vintage Dolce & Gabanna Dress and I'm wearing my brother's old clothes! as you do!)
As I now think back how hard it must have been to start a business from scratch with 2 young children not knowing the outcome. As their business progressed me and my brother spent evenings after school at the shop with mum & dad together with family friends they had got together as a team to help them fit out the shop for its opening. We consequently spent time upstairs as they served customers, measuring them us for waistcoats, suits & jackets watching them at work! I really think the bug of having my own business came from these early days, subconsciously seeing there hard work to make something for themselves was instilled in me from a baby! I JUST KNOW IT!
(upstairs in the shop with dad)
Going further back my grandparents' were originally from small remote villages in Gujarat, India and migrated to East Africa for work after they were married. Historically, we are a family of tailors from both my parents' sides. So my grandfathers' both had tailoring shops in East Africa. On a recent trip to Mombasa with my family, dad showed me the high street 'bapa's' (grandfather's) shop was on and where they used to live, directly behind it. The experience was incredible, I felt as proud to see how business savvy my family was even through their migrant journey to a new country.
(above: passport's along my family's journey | below: Rambha bai Pragji Parmar (my dad's mother)
(Moti Nanji Bharkhada & Nanji Ghelabhai Bharkhada (mum's parent's)
Throughout my work I have touched upon my own cultural heritage, and built up an archive of handed down gold jewellery pieces from my grandmothers and mother. Whenever I feel a creative block, I pull out these incredibly intricate pieces and always find something new and special in them I haven’t seen before. I adore the Indian tradition of passing down jewellery from mother to daughter. Both my grandmother's collected jewellery through out their journey to the UK, as gold & jewellery was seen as a women's security and I mean what beautiful security it is. I even wore a incredible 5 finger ring hand chain of my ba's (grandmother's) for my wedding earlier this year. And its not just the jewellery; the sari's, my grandfather's sewing machines, jackets, tailoring books, its all these things that make up a historical references that inspire me.
(grandad's actual signatures & passport stamp)
My parent's were really the first generation to encompass the fusion of Indian heritage, with 70's British culture and a bit of Swahili thrown in. You can see his through their fashion, I mean how cool do they look?? They still have some of these clothes! When i'm lost for an outfit I always look into my mum's wardrobe for a vintage piece of which she has a story for; where it was bought, how she came about it and why she just can't let it go!
I have been brought up in a very liberal & family where my parents have always guided me to dream as big as possible and gave me the strength to think I can achieve those dreams. Being born in London with a very British outtake on life this upbringing gave me the opportunity to pick and choose aspects of my Indian and British tradition that truly make me, well me! I am super proud of my family's heritage, and yes it most definitely inspires me as I live and breathe every part of it!
I honestly believe that the path I am on now with my brand is a direct result of all the dots in my ancestor's lives lining up from Gujarat to East Africa to London...and I hope to make them proud!
lots of love Anisha x