You’ve met The Fockers, The Patels and The Kardashians (sorry, we had to). Well, it’s about time you meet The Khemlanis—three fashionable sisters who are building an empire on fur and fashion. As a new generation family business, they are the #bossbabes running Izaak Azanei.
Karishma, Roshni and Deeya Khemlani were born and raised in London. While sharing the same womb wasn’t enough, they also attended the same university, London School of Economics, at different times. And to continue the trend of doing everything as #wearefamily they launched Izaak Azanei in November 2014.
But what makes them and the brand so interesting is the fact that they all come from business backgrounds, live across three countries and are the epitome of on-the-go street style. Whether it is pairing a fur cardigan with a pair of Stan smiths or a Moschino leather bomber with a fur scarf, they are living and breathing bodies of effortless chic. Thank goodness for us and our wardrobes, they’ve decided to extend an entire brand that embodies this #idgaf attitude while staying coy.
“I can’t imagine having a business without my sisters. It’s tough but there’s no filter!”
The eldest of the three, Karishma Rajwani Khemlani lives in the Canary Islands and has a background in accounting and finance. She handles production and deals with suppliers, sampling, logistics and back end ecommerce. Roshni Khemlani Mehta resides in Dubai and comes from an economics background. She currently handles the press team, social media and all of the company sales. The youngest, Deeya Khemlani, who studied law and anthropology, is a juggler and spends her time between dipping her toes in all aspects of the business (she loves design the most!) and working as a banker in London.
While the roles are quite solidified, Roshni mentions, “We are still a small company so everyone really does everything.” Deeya adds, “For example, production has been our biggest challenge. But, Karishma has a knack for dealing with suppliers, she is a gifted when it comes to having patience! So, each one of us has our own strengths that we bring to the brand.” The magic mostly happens in their UK headquarters and will soon be introduced via an office and showroom in Dubai. All products are sold via ecommerce and across 20 retailers worldwide. In terms of sales, 60% comes from the Middle East and the rest from Europe and the U.S.
So, how does one go about starting a company based on simply one element: fur? Roshni remembers, “It was 2009 and I was working in finance covering luxury goods. I had always wanted to work for a luxury house such as LVMH or Richemont. At the time, I was the only girl on my team and all luxury investments would go through me. I would get in at 7:45 am every morning and religiously spend 1-2 hours reading Business of Fashion (it was merely a small blog then). I quickly realized that there was a huge gap in the market for affordable fur.”
Fast forward to 2013, major brands were making a comeback with fur including the likes of Gucci and Givenchy. Deeya says, “a lot of people were talking about fur in London but you would walk into a Harvey Nichols store and you couldn’t find anything cool that didn’t cost less than £3,000.” To combat this, the sisters started researching fur coats, which was the original idea for the collection, and understood that it was difficult to create a high quality fur product while keeping it affordable. So, instead of wearing apple bottom jeans and boots with the fur, these ladies decided to go with knitwear that could be worn as an everyday staple on any body shape in any temperature.
The Name Game
Izaak is loosely based off a saint who visited India many centuries ago. The word Azanei has no meaning but just sounded cool and was thus added to the company’s name. Either way, we’re diggin’ it, ladies!
Today, the Izaak Azanei collections are a mix of merino wool and cashmere with a mix of furs from blue fox, silver fox and raccoon. The prices range from £150 to £550 allowing for women of 20-35 who come from a cosmopolitan environment, travel quite often and require luxury clothes as staple items to become loyal customers.
Izaak Azanei’s marketing is based on the fact that people are less interested in spending £4,000 unless it’s Gucci or Dolce & Gabbana. “People are not going to spend that kind of money unless it’s that kind of brand and we don’t want to be that. We want people to like good quality materials and create products that are investment pieces where you can get use out of them.” Deeya adds, “Today, you see something on Instagram, you like it, you follow the brand, you go to their website and you buy the product. In pictures, you can’t tell the quality or make of a product, just how it is styled with other pieces. We want to capitalize on that!” Check out their SS17 collection that was recently shown on Moda Operandi and you’ll know what they mean.
“There are always issues when you start your own business. You just become more knowledgeable on how to deal with them after each collection.”
The Izaak Azanei journey may have begun in 2014 with the help of Roshni’s membership into the British Fur Association but it has continued over the years. She and Karishma took up fashion studies in merchandising and marketing/branding at Parsons New York this past summer. With no design experience, Roshni also worked directly with renowned couture furrier, Rebecca Bradley (fun fact: she collaborated with Kanye West for his first Yeezy collection) to understand production techniques and fur positioning on garments.
In short, constantly reviewing fashion trends, observing street style while globe-trotting and always using af-fur-dable prices as a starting point, the Khemlani sisters have successfully created a brand that goes beyond just a product—it’s a way of living and expressing the furry fashionista in you.
Photo courtesy of Izaak Azanei.