The 30-year-old New Delhi–based fashion entrepreneur has become one of the breakout stars and fan favorites on Netflix’s wildly popular docuseries Indian Matchmaking. The show, which follows Mumbai-based matchmaker Sima Taparia (or “Sima Aunty”) as she makes introductions and sets up matches for Indian and Indian-American clients open to finding a partner via the arranged marriage process, has become a global hit, generating countless memes and nearly as many discussions and think pieces critiquing the series “for seeming to endorse gender stereotypes, colorism and classism.”
Along with her younger sister, Gayatri, 24, Ankita is a cofounder of THERE!, a three-year-old denim brand whose trousers, dresses, tops, and jackets combine statement-making silhouettes with well-tailored, wearable fits. Their latest collection features high-waisted beige denim flared pants paired with a long ruffle-sleeved matching top, a denim chambray short suit with an oversized blazer and shorts with ruffled hems, and cotton denim joggers with lace detailing at the pockets. Although neither sister has formal fashion design training—both studied business at school although Ankita has experience working in fashion marketing and branding—the two clearly have a knack for spotting trends and anticipating what consumers might want.
Initially, they were not set up for international orders and shipping but, thanks to the help of some friends with experience in exporting, they quickly figured out how to arrange for international payments and shipping. “We can’t put it into words,” Gayatri says of the impact the series has had on the clothing brand. “The love we’ve seen from all over the world was completely unexpected. [Since the show premiered], we’ve had sleepless nights, days full of work. We couldn’t even think of taking a deep breath!”. “International sales have definitely increased,” Ankita says. Over the last month, they’ve seen days where traffic to their site grew by 700% compared to the average number of visits prior to the show’s release.
As the sisters plan ahead to a post-COVID-19, post-Netflix future, they’re hoping to expand into plus sizes to make the line even more inclusive, launch a super-affordable collection of basics, and use their site as a platform for other denim designers around the world to reach new customers. “There could be a brand that does denim shoes, there could be a brand that does denim accessories, denim bags, even denim saris. We want to be able to create a community not just so we are able to sell more on the website but because they will get to market to India, we will get to market to their country, and they will get to market to another country because of another brand being on board,” Ankita says. The two practice a form of Buddhism called Nichiren Buddhism, which, among other tenets, “talks about a world with no borders,” Ankita explains. “And our mission now that we have this business is how can we create…branches all over.”
“Denim is so versatile; it has no boundaries. It could [be worn] by a three-year-old or a 70-year-old,” Gayatri says. As Ankita puts it, “There is no border for [THERE!]. You are all welcome to come and be a part of our family.”
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