In Conversation With Aashni Shah On The Opening Of Aashni + Co’s Flagship Store In Kalaghoda

Aashni Shah

Ten years ago, in London, Aashni + Co debuted its first collection, with designs from well-known designers like Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Rohit Bal, Manish Malhotra, and many more. Since its debut, Aashni + Co. has quickly become one of London’s most sought-after destinations and now, with the Aashni + Co store in Kalaghoda, Mumbai, Aashni Shah is happy to return home to India after years of learning and passion.

The store will sell Sabyasachi’s New York Collection and a capsule collection by a few of the hottest up-and-coming artists from the UK and the GCC. Architect Sameep Padora has worked on their opulent store in India and stays true to Mumbai’s artful sensibilities. Here’s what Aashni Shah had to say about her new store launch in Kalaghoda.


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ELLE: Tell us about your experience of retailing Indian fashion in the UK.

Aashni Shah: Indian fashion in the UK was pretty non-existent for quite a few decades. It was more of high street designer labels, except for a couple of trunk shows here and there. I got into this just over a decade ago, without any expertise in Indian retail or designer fashion, thus being a first for me as well. So, from that point to showcasing it in the UK, the response we got was phenomenal because we didn’t really advertise in the beginning or did any kind of marketing. Instagram too, from what I remember had literally just begun blooming 11 years ago.

I’d say everything was at the right time and at the right place, and with a bit of luck, this ‘ignorance is bliss’ kind of a thing played a very strong part because I had no idea what I was getting myself into. And I had the first movers advantage as well, coupled with our curation being pretty tight. Thus, it worked really well for us.


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ELLE: Could you give the ELLE audience an insight into the decor & the spatial design in your newest place at Kala Ghoda?

Aashni Shah: Kala Ghoda is a significant historic district location, and it serves as a cross-cultural preference point. Our focus was not on replicating a specific era, but we drew a lot of inspiration from the art and the walls and the hybrid geometries in a lot of innovative ways. When you enter the ground floor, visitors are greeted by a lot of intersecting walls which pivot around a central focal column, all in hues of ivory.

We have also constructed an Indo British Tea bar for visitors to whisk away and enjoy a cup of coffee when they want to make a decision on a purchase. There are also a lot of sections and different artefacts to explore.

ELLE: What’s the Aashni & Co. Luxury experience for customers?

Aashni Shah: Over the past 11 years, I have come to realise that it’s the curation and the customer experience that sets you apart. While curation is something that keeps evolving, customer experience is something that I have a strong desire for, to get our customers to have the best experience when they come to the store. Besides having just a regular programme of discounts, it’s more of an inner circle programme that we have developed for our customers. It’s a 4 tiered system and is all about the experiences we offer to our customers, like tickets to Wimbledon, NMAAC, et cetera.


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ELLE: How has the journey been for you personally after moving to London and giving Indian fashion a global platform?

Aashni Shah: I have certainly grown along with the store. When I started the store, I was all of 26, not knowing anything about Indian retail. My background has predominantly been on the production side of films. So, since stepping into the world of retail at 26, now, 11 years later, it’s been phenomenal seeing both the highs and the lows. I have seen a lot in the past few years and thus, feel a lot more wiser for my age. I don’t know how it feels to think like a 50-year-old at 37. It gets to you, constantly making decisions, but it’s also one of the key tasks as a business owner.


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ELLE: Who are your favourite Indian designers whose collections you’ll be stocking at the store?

Aashni Shah: My go-to designers have always been Sabyasachi, Abu Sandeep and Anamika. That being said, ever since COVID happened, I have explored a host of new designers, new emerging ones that possibly started very small like Mimamsaa and are doing some beautiful stuff. We are really looking forward to hosting them in our store. There are also contemporary designers like 431-88 by Shweta Kapur and Amit Aggarwal so it’s a mix of new names and established ones as well.

ELLE: In your opinion, what are the core bridal trends that will dominate the coming year?

Aashni Shah: Minimalism, is definitely a trend we have seen in the UK and now, in India as well. We are now witnessing brides taking the lead and making conscious decisions in choosing clothes they want to wear and re-wear but also, who they want to invite. Consciousness and Minimalism have to be the biggest bridal trends in the upcoming year.

- Digital Fashion Writer


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