Anand Ahuja on his love for sneakers

Giving sneakers a chance Ahuja (above) believes that the humble shoe is no longer just for sport  

When Priyanka Chopra’s fiancé Nick Jonas matched his traditional Indian outfit with a pair of sneakers at his engagement ceremony recently, the Twitterati surmised that he was taking his cue from Anand Ahuja. Ahuja — a businessman and sneaker aficionado, who is also husband to Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor — donned a pair of Nikes at his own wedding reception in May.

The 35-year-old entrepreneur, whose family runs apparel manufacturing company Shahi Exports, is the founder and owner of streetwear label bhane, as well as the multi-brand sneaker store VegNonVeg. His love for the humble sneaker is infectious; a cursory glance at his Instagram profile will reveal photos of a beaming Ahuja next to shoe celebrities (Virgil Abloh, Hirofumi Kojima) or an aerial shot of his (and sometimes Sonam’s) kicks du jour. On his birthday this year, sister-in-law Rhea Kapoor gifted him a Nike shoe-shaped flower bouquet.

“I grew up playing basketball, and sneaker culture has always been heavily integrated with the sport,” shares Ahuja, who runs VegNonVeg with business partner Abhineet Singh (with stores in Mumbai and Delhi). “Every summer, I would plan what that one basketball shoe I would buy would be — the newest, the most advanced.” This is how he remembers his love for sneakers evolving, but his mother might tell you that it originated even earlier. “I used to be very picky with shoes even as a toddler,” he jokes. “I would cry when my mom put on the ones I didn’t want to wear.”

Sonam Kapoor & Anand Ahuja got married in a traditional ceremony.

Sonam Kapoor & Anand Ahuja got married in a traditional ceremony.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


To the uninitiated, it might seem like Ahuja and his wife have helped bring the humble shoe to a wider audience. After she met him, Sonam (who admitted to wearing the “worst sneakers” on her first date) has embraced the shoe. Her Instagram profile chronicles her sartorial experiments as she mixes and matches formal wear with casual footwear, bringing a “street” sensibility to her style. But Ahuja is quick to clarify that “any social media presence of mine is secondary to the overall trend of sneakers becoming a lot more accepted in new situations. They are no longer just for sport.”

What can a sneaker express that another article of clothing might not be able to? A lot, says Abhineet Singh, who remembers stuffing the toes of his first pair of Nike high-tops that his aunt bought for him from Canada. They were three sizes too big, but much more coveted than the Action and Bata shoes dominant in the local market in the nineties. “The sneakers you wear can tell people about who you are,” he says. “Your fashion inclination, whether you’re trendy or OG or luxe or grunge. There are nuances upon nuances that help people express themselves.”

Whether you are looking to flaunt your style or are in search of a new pair of kicks to spice up your collection, here are some experts’ picks to consider.

Fila Mindblower

Anand Ahuja on his love for sneakers

With 90s fashion making a comeback and chunky sneakers trending worldwide, it is not surprising that you can see FILA everywhere. The Mindblower was released in 1995, and made a huge return this year with a limited-edition drop featuring the iconic ‘White Navy’ kicks as well as apparel. Fila also recently announced the launch of more silhouettes from the series (in seasonal citrus, teal and cherry tomato, and black). Approximately ₹8,000. Details:

Air Jordan 3 Retro OG ‘Black Cement’

Anand Ahuja on his love for sneakers

The Air Jordan is one of the most iconic shoes ever created, with an unmatched history. Connecting basketball and youth counter-culture, the shoe — named after one of the court’s biggest stars — has seen countless iterations and colourways. The retro OG ‘Black Cement’ was released on Michael Jordan’s 55th birthday and is the first to feature original “Nike Air” branding. Approximately ₹20,000. Details:

adidas NMD Hu Powder Dye Pack

Anand Ahuja on his love for sneakers

This exclusive release travelled to India, celebrating the colour and high energy of Holi. The sneakers were an extension of Pharrell’s ‘Human Race’ concept that saw several different cultures being explored through colour and language, focussing on a message of equality and diversity (his East Africa-inspired ‘Solarhu’ collection also released recently). Three styles from the line were released this year, making it the first international sneaker with an India story, and Pharrell’s trip to Bombay during Holi further strengthened the connection. Approximately ₹19,000. Details:

ASICS Tiger GEL Mai ‘Development Sunrize’

Anand Ahuja on his love for sneakers

This May, FOSS linked with ASICS for a celebratory sneaker collab marking the first anniversary of the Beijing-based agency’s gallery. They re-worked the GEL-Mai sillhouette, wrapping the sneaker in bi-colour suede. The orange hues are intended to symbolise the sunrise seen from the Chaoyang office. “X” and “F” characters are embossed into the left and right shoes, signalling FOSS’ decade in the industry. Approximately ₹13,000. Details:


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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 11:12:03 AM |

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