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The art of creating adventurous yet wearable shoes

In an interview with Lounge, designer Jeetinder Sandhu talks about turning shoe fantasies into a reality

From Jeetinder Sandhu x Aroka collaboration
From Jeetinder Sandhu x Aroka collaboration

Accessories designer Jeetinder Sandhu is known for turning shoe fantasies into a reality.

Whether it is his vertiginous block heels, sequinned booties or the angular toe-shaped lace-ups, his shoe universe helps one steal the spotlight at any given moment. Sandhu, who's studied fashion design at Istituto Marangoni London and accessory design at Accademia Costume e Moda Rome, has now come out with a collection in collaboration with label Aroka.

Also read: Where is India's ‘it’ shoe brand?

In an interview with Lounge, Sandhu talks about the collaboration, opening his studio in Delhi's Greater Kailash and his design process. Edited excerpts:

 Jeetinder Sandhu
Jeetinder Sandhu

Your label stands for eye-catching, edgy and adventurous designs. What’s the root of your artistic expression?

Design has always been my medium of expression. I may be what some call an introverted extrovert. Fashion has always given me that extra sprinkle of confidence. I love to create unique products, with an edge, that push the boundaries of fashion and design.

How do you strike a balance between functionality and avant-garde designs?

As a designer, I have always believed the products I create should not only be unique and different, but also be wearable at the same time. I want my customers to feel confident whenever they wear my shoes. It’s a lengthy and time-consuming process, from conceptualisation to the finished style. I embrace this process of creation, learning and problem-solving when developing new products.

Your shoes also have a unisex appeal. How do you cater to the un-gender taste of today’s evolved customers?

I believe fashion is about experimenting. It’s a balancing act of being comfortable yet equally evolving in your style sensibilities and trying new ideas. The unisex approach to fashion and design resonates with my personal style and I extend that same sensibility to my customers. It’s all about one’s attitude and breaking down your own mental barriers.  

You’ve introduced new silhouettes like the angular, geometric shapes in your footwear. What inspires you to constantly innovate?

Design to me is fun when it is innovative and brings something to the table that is different and intriguing. As a medium of expression, I always aspire to create designs that represent this. This does come with its set of challenges. Achieving a good balance between wearability and concept is not always easy. One can easily go overboard with an idea that just does not translate in real life. Also, producing small quantities has its issues when procuring raw materials and creating something conceptual or different. I stay away from mass production and work with my clients on a made-to-order basis with a small team of artisans.

How did you collaborate with Aroka? What are the attributes you look for in a collaborator?

My relationship with Aroka, the brand and its creators, goes back a few years. We have mutually admired each others’ design sensibilities and working practices. Also, the fact that Aroka is a slow fashion brand as I take the same approach with my brand. This collaboration is both of us contributing equally to the research, design and development process. It was a stimulating experience for me to have worked with the team at Aroka to create this collection. 

One of the most important things when starting a collaboration is for both parties to be transparent in the decision-making process and to communicate clearly. I would say this is instrumental in making such a partnership successful.

How much has your international exposure, especially studying abroad, enriched your designs?

Travel has always been a very important part of both my personal and professional life. Even while growing up, my parents instilled this outlook and exposure to life. I was lucky to experience many cultures and different Indian crafts, and whenever I travel, I always feel proud to represent India through my East-meets-West aesthetic. London and Rome have most certainly played a pivotal role in shaping me both personally and as a designer and getting me to where I am today. Exposure to different cultures is priceless and will always broaden your horizons. The UK and Italy’s approach to fashion is very different and was crucial in helping me understand how to convey my ideas to my audience, and also improving my practices.

Also read: 3 kinds of shoes for 3 different sports

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