Since launching her Malabar Baby range in 2017, former equities business partner Anjali Harjani has worked hard to create a unique lifestyle brand. By collaborating with a factory that is a leading member of Jaipur Bloc to produce her collections—promoting the production and consumption of textiles from Rajasthan, that are women-owned and both environmentally friendly and positively impact on the workers and their communities. With fans that include the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, who swaddled Archie in the Erawan Cotton Dohar, it’s little surprise that Harjani is a font of knowledge when it comes to discovering fashion beyond the usual global brands.
Having lived the world over from Miami and Mumbai to New York and London, but now settled in Hong Kong, her dress sense reflects an eclectic nomadism that mixes Indian designers and artisans with contemporary western brands. Here, she talks to PAKT about whose wardrobe she is coveting, unique kolhapuris and what shops are on her can’t miss list.
1) Describe your style in 3 words.
Classic, eclectic and ethnic.
2) What’s the most precious item in your wardrobe and why?
Definitely, my block-printed loungewear. Nothing compares to coming home and slipping these on.
Left: Anjali with her mother Nisha in matching Malabar Baby loungewear
3) What’s your go-to outfit?
A classic white or black, v neck t-shirt, black blazer or vest, and depending what I ate that week, my favourite skinny or boyfriend jeans.
4) Favourite piece you bought recently and why?
Truthfully, I’ve been shopping a whole lot less and just re-wearing classics. I usually like to save up and buy some goodies when I travel to new destinations, so my piggy bank is exploding at the moment! One of my last purchases was a skinny Louis Vuitton off-white reversible belt which I literally mix and match with all my clothes, both Indian and western. I add it on top of my Malabar Baby kaftan dresses to cinch in my waist or pair it with jeans and a blazer. It’s reversible so I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of it.
5) What is the best fashion advice you have received?
Buy once and buy right. My mama told me this and she’s as classic as it gets.
6) Who are your style icons?
Audrey Hepburn, probably the most elegant woman to grace the silver screen. Rihanna for her confidence and IDGAF attitude, for whom fashion is more than just clothes. And more recently, a mama-to be I’ve been crushing on is Diipa Büller-Khosla. She’s Indian and shares a bunch of tips on style and skin which I can relate to.
From left: Audrey Hepburn, photographed by George Karger | @badgalriri | @diipakhosla
7) What’s your personal style signifier and why?
I’ve been wearing a string of black beads with an ornate diamond pendant around my neck since the day I got married. It’s called a mangalsutra and its significance in the Hindu culture is something I’ve always admired. The mangalsutra is a symbol of marriage and partnership, somewhat like a wedding band. I’m not an overly traditional person but, this is one accessory everyone who knows me, knows how much I cherish it and wear proudly.
8) Less or more?
Less. Always less. Understated is key.
9) If you could have anyone’s wardrobe whose would it be and why?
Arielle Charnas has a pretty great wardrobe and by far the best shoe collection ever! She’s also living in Miami right now which is where I grew up, so I love watching her stories taken at my favourite places wearing some amazing pieces.
10) If you were an item of clothing what would you be?
A beautifully adorned Indian hand-loomed shawl. Rich in earthy colours, block-printed and hand stitched by artisans with stories to tell and passed down for generations. Timeless and memorable.
Left: Andraab | Right: Kashmir Loom
11) Where do you love to shop?
Hula is top on my list given that I live in Hong Kong and I love the motto of circular fashion. Founder, Sarah Fung and her team are so great at curating outfits from the brands they carry.
All Saints, as I love the fit of all of their clothes and their quality is awesome, Maje for their feminine silhouettes while Club Monaco is where I go for staples including T-shirts, denim shirts and jeans.
Anita Dongre and Tarun Tahiliani are my go-to designers for indo-western gowns. I love to buy Indian clothes that I can wear to both traditional functions and everyday.
12) What is a must have clothing item everyone must own?
A kaftan. One that sort of does it all. Makes you look and feel fab at home and if you pair with gold heels and gorgeous earrings takes you to any upscale restaurant or lounge in the Mediterranean.
Malabar Baby Kaftan Dresses
13) If a museum asked you to donate one item from your wardrobe that represented you what would it be?
My gemstone kolhapuris. They are completely handmade out of leather with zero chemicals and are buttery soft. These trusty sandals have been with me for years and they are my must-have travel item. Who knows they may end up next to Dorothy’s ruby slippers…
14) What will we never find in your wardrobe?
15) What’s your number one fashion rule?
Less is more. And always travel with a dress that can go day to night and does not have to be ironed.
16) What is your dream project?
Lucky for me, I’m doing it right now with Malabar Baby. I have some big aspirations to grow Malabar Baby into a full international lifestyle brand, with just as big aspirations on helping grass-root projects focused on kids health and education in India.
17) Dream collaborator?
I’d love to create and make magic with Liberty London.
18) Top 3 accounts to follow on social media:
Sujata Assomull @sujstyle — For anything sustainability and textile related. Sujata is a friend of mine based in Dubai with exquisite style and knowledge about the fashion industry.
Joe Thomas @joethommas — For when I’m feeling nostalgic for NYC.
Ravneet Gill @ravneeteats — Food is a big thing in my home and she has some crazy, baking recipes with a great soundtrack.
From left: @sujstyle | @joethommas | @ravneeteats
19) Favourite fashion apps?
I really don’t use any for fashion, I use more apps for the home. However, when I lived in NYC, I loved Rent the Runway and although I can’t rent or buy in Hong Kong, it’s a fantastic site to know exactly what’s trending for different occasions. It’s run by boss-babe women, one being Anushka Salinas, a friend of mine.
20) Where were the last three places you travelled to and what are the can’t miss shops?
Mumbai, India in 2020 for a solid five, months in lockdown. I love concept stores Bungalow 8, Nico Bar, Ensemble, Tarun Tahiliani for clothing, Isharya and Outhouse for jewellery.
From left: Nico Bar | Malabar Hill | Ensemble
Paris, France. I went for Maison & Objet a year ago as Malabar Baby was exhibiting and I love Smallable the family concept store.
Sardinia, Italy. Our family’s favourite place for summer magic. As I only eat in Sardinia, the must visits are Ristorante Su Gologone, Il Fuoco Sacro and Phi Beach.
From left: Anjali travelling in Sardinia | Ristorante Su Gologone | Il Fuoco Sacro