Jeetinder Sandhu on his fashion journey and the role Istituto Marangoni played in shaping it
The designers spills the beans on his influences, inspirations, and muse
It’s not easy finding a niche in an industry that’s constantly evolving. Designer Jeetinder Sandhu, however, made his mark with his eponymous label and never looked back. Graduating with a degree in Fashion Design at Istituto Marangoni London in 2013, Sandhu was amongst the very few to participate at both London’s Graduate Fashion Week, as well as the Istituto Maragoni Paris graduate show—both of which provided him with the recognition he needed. Known for creating unique and contemporary men’s and unisex shoes, Sandhu’s impressive clientele extends across the globe. As he launches his first ever women’s shoe collection, the designer talks about his inspiration, influences, and how the fashion school helped shape his career.
1. Tell us a bit more about your fashion journey. How did it start and what role did Istituto Marangoni play in shaping your design career?
I was a very creative kid while growing up and arts & crafts were very much an important part of my growing up years. Because of my interest in the creative field, design was clearly a career I found myself attracted to. My love for fashion started in my teens when I had started to read my first fashion magazines and from there it just grew more and more.
I decided to pursue fashion design in my final year at high school and started doing research on the best fashion university in the world and Istituto Marangoni seemed the perfect fit for me.
The support system and the feeling of being part of a family is what drew me to the university in London. My design career in a way started because of Istituto Marangoni through which I had the golden opportunity to showcase my final year collection at London Graduate Fashion Week 2013. This gave me the platform to showcase my work and talent to industry professionals, got really good coverage through press and media and also connect with industry insiders. Istituto Marangoni also showcased my work in Paris and Florence and has really helped push my career to higher heights.
2. How do you maintain a balance between the eastern and western world influences in you designs?
Having had the opportunity to grow up in different parts of India, my exposure to the arts and crafts of the different regions really played a strong role in my design aesthetic. I got to experience the different art forms of India at the grassroots level and I grew up in a rich and stimulating environment. My mum also had a Rajasthani handicrafts business when I was growing up, so we had beautiful handmade objects in our home.
My extensive travels abroad also played a strong influence in my growth as a designer. Its like Yin and Yang, and both the western and eastern influences are equally important and in a way define who I am today. Professionally I did not want to just recreate an Indian art influence but rather work with it and innovate something new, with an essentially traditional mooring.
3. What is the inspiration behind your first ever women’s shoe collection? Did you have a muse?
I just recently launched my first women’s shoe collection and I had wanted to expand into this segment of the market for a few years now. I was getting orders and requests from women and I felt now was the perfect time to dive into it. This collection is a mixture and fusion of different ideas and offers something for everyone. With trendy inspirations from “warning” labels found on objects and parcels to graffiti art and club culture, the shoes offer an edgy and innovative design to the customer.
4. Take us through your design process.
Instead of designing a collection with a single theme or idea in mind, I prefer designing individual shoe designs. Each shoe has its own story and idea behind it. The process of designing a shoe starts with a mood or an idea/object in mind and from thereafter-extensive research helps give the shoe a tangible form. We make a few dummy pairs and try experimenting with different materials or ideas and come up with a final product.
5. Is there a piece in the collection that is really close to your heart?
Given the fact that each shoe requires extensive research, love and attention it would be hard to pick one but of all the designs presented I really like the graffiti art heels. These heels are made of white leather and have a very simple design but the option of having artwork and doodles of your choice and as per your taste was a really exciting idea for me and I had a fun time making those. It really brought two things dear to me together, art and shoes.
6. When you designed the collection, was there a particular “Jeetinder Sandhu” woman you had in mind?
The woman who wears Jeetinder Sandhu shoes is independent, fashionable and likes to stand out from the crowd. I like to think whoever wears my shoes has a distinctive style and an unapologetic personality. I believe the beauty of my shoes and designs is that they are innovative and different yet don’t overpower the person wearing them. But in fact enhance and become a part of the person wearing them.