As a South Asian woman growing up here in the States, it was hard to find appropriate desi partywear that spoke to both my resplendent traditional heritage and more muted western sensibilities. While shopping at South Asian clothing boutiques in the US, I became dissatisfied with the usual selection of heavily embroidered ethnic wear, which was often too gaudy for my taste. I wasn’t the only one with these frustrations.
Meet Sapana Amin, an Indian-American fusionwear designer. Sapana grew up in Norfolk, Virigina with a similar quandary. She knew there were women like her, eager for something to wear to desi community functions, which addressed their dual cultures. In 2004, at 23, Sapana moved to Mumbai to follow her calling in fashion design. She paid her dues for three years in the Indian fashion industry and also designed pieces for family and friends. In 2008, she finally launched her eponymous label, Sapana Amin.
Usually featuring 3 key pieces, each Indo-Western look contrasts patterns and colors with quirky modern details that don’t go unnoticed. Her latest collection Bombay Eclectic features trending prints like gingham combined with brights and florals in the most unexpected way. To ground the designs she includes elegant, yet subtle trimmings such as mirrorwork along the top band of a skirt. These ironic yet perfect pairings are a hallmark of the brand.
Incredibly humble, Sapana admits she was insecure in the early stages as a designer. With the level of competition out there, the noise made it difficult for her to find her own style. But now, with growing adulation for her designs, she feels incredibly fortunate to be a successful designer. Starting a fashion business is no easy feat. But she underlines the importance of promoting your brand and doing everything you can to get the word out. Twenty years down the line, she hopes she will still be running her own wildly successful label.
All images courtesy of Sapana Amin.