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May 21, 2024

Indian footwear brand Anaar debuts on NYFW runway

Ismat Tahseen
For fashion lovers, celebrities and style enthusiasts, the last few days have been really busy as the New York Fashion Week kicked off, marking the first of the big four shows to be held in the world’s fashion capitals – New York, London Milan and Paris. Spread over six days, the glitzy affair not only saw exciting collections on the runway by Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera, Proenza Schouler, Tory Burch, Altuzarra and Prabal Gurung, but also marked the grand comeback of veteran designer Ralph Lauren (he has not had a show here since 2019)! And this year, what makes it even more special, is that Indian footwear brand Anaar became the first footwear brand from the country to showcase on the prestigious NYFW runway. With sneaker glam having a huge moment globally, it’s big news for the homegrown brand, that has been creating a buzz back home for its luxury, handcrafted sneakers that fuse comfort with style. We caught up with Mumbai-based founder of Anaar, Tanushri Biyani, who’s just jetted back from NY and thrilled at her brand being on the runway there.

 

Tanushri Biyani, founder of Anaar
Tanushri Biyani
How does it feel for Anaar to be the first Indian footwear brand to showcase at NYFW?
It was an incredibly exciting and proud moment for Anaar to be the first Indian footwear brand to showcase at a prestigious global platform like New York Fashion Week (NYFW). This achievement marks a significant milestone not only for the brand, but also for the Indian fashion industry as a whole, as we got to represent India’s rich heritage and innovation on a global stage. For our designers, artisans, and everyone involved, it was a moment of accomplishment.
Describe your collection for NYFW.
Anaar's chic sneaker line
Photo Courtesy; Anaar
Our collection at NYFW was a fusion of traditional Indian craftsmanship with techniques like aari and zardozi embroidery along with modern aesthetics, intricate detailing and vibrant colours. The chunky, sporty wedge sneakers are designed to be shapeshifters that complement any occasion; they work just as perfectly under maximalist festive ensembles as with Western cocktail wear. As we saw on the runway at NYFW, the sneakers can be styled with sarees, party dresses and any Indian outfits. The highlight of the craftsmanship is that they’re deeply rooted in Indian traditions and rituals and the footwear serves as an ode to these rich cultural inspirations while embracing contemporary design. We also showcased handcrafted kitten pumps and platforms.
Your heel-friendly sneakers marry comfort with aesthetics. Did you find a void in the market for this aesthetic?
Anaar's embroidered sneakers pair perfectly with festive wear
Photo Courtesy; Anaar
Definitely; I do feel this was much needed. Traditionally, weddings have been associated with uncomfortable high heels for brides and bridesmaids. While these shoes may look elegant, so often they lead to discomfort and pain, making it difficult for people to fully enjoy the special occasion. We recognized that people wanted to look their best on their big day but didn’t want to sacrifice comfort. Anaar’s ‘shape-shifting’ handcrafted sneakers not only offer the necessary support and cushioning for all-day wear, but also feature a design that seamlessly complements bridal attire. They allow brides and bridesmaids to dance, walk, and move around with ease, which can be such a comforting alternative for their special day. It has also been creatively fulfilling to bring out so much Indian embroidery – from the Rajasthani Dabka Pitta style of embroidery on the Heirloom sneakers to aari embroidery with geometric shapes on the Goldilocks range and brocade on the Gold Dust shoes, something that footwear did not have.
Do you feel it is time sneaker glam earned its place under the spotlight?

I do. The rise of handcrafted sneakers that combine comfort and fashion has indeed earned its place under the spotlight. I think
that this trend reflects a broader shift in fashion towards prioritizing comfort and functionality without sacrificing style. People love personal expression in their fashion choices and these handcrafted sneakers in pretty shades like ivory, white, pink and even darker hues like maroon and metallics give the wearer a chance to make a statement while staying comfortable. There was a time you didn’t associate sneakers with Indian outfits, but happy to see how far we’ve come now.
There’s so much potential when it comes to fusing traditional Indian craftsmanship with modern elements, so what’s next on your design radar?
The-handcrafted-sneakers-by-Anaar-fuse-comfort-with-style
Photo Courtesy: Anaar
Our team of cross functional designers, consumers research enthusiasts and ethnographers are continuously working to study and craft the next phase of designs for our brand. We are working towards thinking about every aspect of a wedding – be it a sangeet, mehndi or a bachelorette event and whether Anaar can become a part of that celebration. Soon, we plan to see Anaar expanding its portfolio to many more categories.

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Ismat Tahseen

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