Designer Aaquib Wani: Didn’t go to college but my designs are at the Asian Games
Delhi-based designer Aaquib Wani, the creative brain behind the official jerseys, track suits and other sportswear for the Asian Games 2022, shares his journey.
A total of 634 athletes in the Indian contingent for Asian Games 2022 are competing on track and field to win laurels for India, in Hangzhou (China). And winning every moment of this is the Delhi-based designer Aaquib Wani, who is the creative brain behind the official jerseys, track suits and other sportswear in the official kit.
The 32-year-old based out of Hauz Khas is not to mention on cloud nine. “For someone who never even went to college or received formal education, this is a huge deal,” says Wani, who originally sought a career in music. “If not a musician, I’d have been definitely a cricketer! Growing up, I’d be glued to the TV to watch whichever random tournament was on because I love sports. I’ve been watching the Olympics, and also zonal Ranji matches, and buying random sports journals. I never knew that what I started at six, would come in handy when I’m over 30.”
“It all came home for me when I was selected to design jerseys for Indian men's and women's cricket teams,” shares the self-taught designer, who was earlier shortlisted by the brand sponsoring the team. “It was surreal... And then came the assignment to design jersey’s for the Asian Games... I wanted to ensure that not only the athletes feel comfortable, but also make sure that our culture gets the recognition it deserves.”
So Wani set out to accomplish the task to study from what he calls “the designer’s Bible — the book, Aditi Ranjan’s Handmade in India”. Wani recalls, “It’s from here that I made a depository of motifs. I got bagh from Madhya Pradesh, marapani wood carving from Kerala, bamboo basketry from Chhattisgarh, Nagaland skirt patterns, Misoram’s kwapusial, telia rumal from Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakhi psug dgan rugs, paintings applique from Madurai, gamucha from Assam, Sanchi paper cut from Uttar Pradesh, paper mâché from Kashmir, motifs in Tibetan carpets... and the list goes on! I’m not trying to be a torchbearer for Indian handicrafts, but wanted to uphold the idea of giving an apt representation of our rich history. Much like how our athletes go to represent the nation, these crafts came together for an expressive representation of our unified heritage!”
However, the journey was not without doubts, as he shares, “My team and I were a little worried about whether the athletes will feel comfortable enough while wearing jerseys with all these motifs. It’s not just a single part of where they belong to, but rather from across the subcontinent. Luckily, for us, they loved it! So I have only one regret, that is, all of this happened so quickly that we never got to keep a jersey for ourselves (laughs)!”