Introducing AN-Y1: Refashioning automotive style for 2024

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Erome - Formula 1 is firmly in the zeitgeist right now, thanks to Netflix’s Drive to Survive series, glamorous race weekends around the globe, and hoards of stars and society flocking track-side. But the style is timeless; driving jumpsuits and leather jackets have always been cool, as Anu Hinduja and Nandita Mahtani – the Creative Directors, and sisters, behind track-themed fashion brand AN-Y1 – are well aware.

In the opulently-decorated Raffles Hotel, just off of London’s Whitehall, Anu sat with me to discuss AN-Y1 (pronounced ‘anyone’) in 2022, and how the brand has caught the attention of high-profile actors like Idris Elba, who regularly wears their signature Leather Racer Jacket. So much of London society is wearing them, Anu admits with a grin, but she can’t tell me who. That would kill some of the fun.

Their staple Racer Jacket sold out quickly, thanks to the supple leather and the composition of patches; all very Steve McQueen and retro Gulf Racing attire, but with a contemporary cut that is a lot more versatile than the battered oil-stained versions on the market. Gulf Oil is, as you’ll no doubt recognise from trackside photographs, an iconic brand for racing liveries, but how did Anu get permission to include the logo on the jackets? “Well, Gulf Oil is a family owned business."

Although AN-Y1 (so called because they’re designed for anyone to wear, as well as a merging of both sisters’ initials – pretty handy) have started small with their menswear, they plan on expanding the collection more in the future. “The Racer Jacket is our foundation, and it pairs with so many outfits,” Anu explains, “clients wear them around London, and I’ve had people take them to the F1 in Las Vegas, but we’re also looking at making broader basics for our next collection.” Over 2024, Anu and Nandita intend to introduce more essential basics, made with high-quality materials, into their menswear offering. Each piece from their small-batch capsule collections are designed and crafted here in London, and as Anu admits, they’re keen to keep everything small and simple to start with. “I don’t want to mass produce for the sake of it,” she explains, “We’re thinking about the environment. But there’s also something to be said about the exclusivity of our offering. It’s not about just dropping a collection. I’ll have a few ideas, and when I feel I need to make something, I do. So even with the upcoming capsule, there’s just twenty pieces.” The next drop will see clothes inspired by the sisters’ travels around the world – even dipping into swimwear: “That’s the thrilling thing about having a new brand. You get to see something, go away and think, ‘I would love to design a pair of those!’”

With Nandita living in India, and Anu in London, they’re well-positioned to source the best suppliers between East and West. Working with your siblings can either be a blessing or a pitfall. But not with Anu and Nandita, who – although they share thirty years in fashion between them – are embarking on this journey for the first time together. “I love my sister. Like all siblings, of course we argue, but we also get on so well,” she explains, “I find it more fun to work with her, anyway. You can be honest with your sister. I can tell her when she’s wrong and she can do the same with me. You can’t really do that with friends or partners, because you might end up not speaking again after!”

Although Nandita is still very much on the scene in India, AN-Y1 is a return to fashion for Anu. After starting a family, she stepped away from a full-time career in 2013 to focus on where it matters. But as a naturally restless creative, she was itching to get back into work. “I really missed it, you know?” she says, a subtle smile across her face, “I wanted to get back into fashion, but also do something different…something that doesn’t yet exist. Like when I first introduced Kaftans – bringing this Indian influence to fashion – they weren’t seen around London,” she explains. Anu notes that the Leather Jacket will always remain a staple of each capsule collection, but how they refashion it, reshape it, and re-think it, will all be a part of what makes AN-Y1 so exciting to follow – especially for us racing fans out there. “It’s like this,” she tells me, finally: “It’s a niche. And maybe it’ll take time to grow.” The future of AN-Y1 is malleable; rooted in the sisters’ inspirations and ideas, coming from their experiences and travels. The leather racing jacket might seem like a brave foundation to begin with, but, as Anu explains, “I like the challenge.”


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