Wouldn’t you love to own a denim blouse that can be worn with your pattu sari for an occasion? How about transforming your grandmom’s 80-year-old sari into a cocktail dress?
Meet designers Sandeep Ravi and Ekta Nahar of Studio 9696 who create garments that can be worn in diverse ways. “We make sure our garments are multipurpose. A school student may end up wearing her mom’s sari and blouse for her farewell. Instead, we can tweak the sari and make two garments. One, a blouse from the sari border that we sew on fabrics, and two, a gown out of the rest,” said Sandeep.
Studio 9696 has designed for the likes of Kamal Haasan, Ganesh Venkatraman, Karthik Srinivasan, Jyothika, Jayam Ravi and G V Prakash. It was originally founded by three friends from NIFT — Sandeep, Gail Jhonson and Kavita Kothari three years ago. “We chose the name Studio 9696 because that was the number of my car. We always travelled in my car. From buying fabrics to a weedend gateaway. Ninety per cent of our college life was spent in my car. It bonded us,” said Sandeep.
The trio started with designing for ad shoots. They customised clothes for people they knew. Now, three years later, Studio 9696 showcased its bridal collection, Bridal meets Tomboy, complete with sneakers and jackets, recently.
“We got our first break when we designed for the Yash Raj film Aaha Kalyanam. We designed for not just Vaani Kapoor but also the entire cast including the background actors,” said Sandeep.
That is when Ekta, an NIFT graduate, first got involved with Studio 9696. “I was doing an internship with a well-known designer in London when Sandeep called me and asked me to be a part of the project,” she said.
“Quirkiness is our speciality,” said Sandeep. “Even if it a blouse, we shouldn’t make it look like one. We customise fabrics and embroidery. We do patchwork and embroidery in a very different way, using leather patches or metal sequences. We also recycle our own products making them creative,” he added.
When asked about why they chose Chennai to establish their label, they said that the city was a great place to experiment and challenge themselves. “If you give people outfits they are comfortable with, they are willing to experiment. Give a denim crop top, they won’t agree, but make a denim blouse with quirky embroidery, or a gown with a cutline from an anarkali, they will definitely want to wear it,” said Sandeep.
The duo believes in portraying one’s personality in the apparels. They work according to the body type, skin tone and comfort level. From bridal gowns and lehengas to simple tunics and dresses, the brand customises everything. So does Ekta ever thought about what she would wear on her wedding? “I don’t know! A few years ago in college I was obsessed with a Sabyasachi lehenga and I was pretty sure I would wear that. But now, I think I might get the sabyasachi lehenga but tweak it up to Studio 9696 style.”
Studio 9696 is located in 12 Balaji Avenue, 2nd St Darmapuram. TNagar. For details, call Sandeep on 089392 75990.