Celebrity Stylist Isha Bhansali Talks About Sneakers & How To Style Them

Sneakers have sneaked in and made their way in almost everyone’s closet, especially men’s. A casual-cool look is now incomplete without them, and it’s no wonder that they have surpassed their ‘just an accessory’ status. They are now an essential part of making a style statement. Of course, celebrities are a major influence in making a fashion phenomenon just like Ayushmann Khurrana making waves with their unique style. But, what’s more to a good pair of sneakers? To understand just that, and more, we asked celebrity stylist Isha Bhansali to decode some of the looks she has conceptualised for her clientele.

Isha is a genius when it comes to menswear, and the regular appearance of a really cool pair of sneakers in the looks created by her is not a last minute addition. She thinks through the whole look keeping in mind the person’s overall persona. But it’s easy to say that some of her looks had sneakers as a focal point. Here are a few of the looks we asked her to decode:

Ayushmann Khurrana‘s Sufi School Kid Look

I actually wanted to mix Indian fashion with something graphic. That’s the reason why I used those kinds of shoes from Adidas Originals with that kind of clothes because the print was proper Madras checks. The whole thing is like ‘urban meets country’ kind of a look, the one that Two Point Two Studio did. So I wanted to make it more graphic by adding denim and by doing those kinds of shoes. I didn’t want to do any other colours in it because there was enough pop happening at the top. At the same time, I didn’t want to go all white on sneakers because then he would look like he’s in two different zones. I think they’re called Prophere shoes. I chose those shoes because, in general, I like those shoes. I have used those shoes during the promotions of that movie and that’s why I have used both the colours. I really wanted to make the Two Point Two Studio (separates) a little more graphic than a very country, to balance it out and make it a little more urban.

Riteish Deshmukh‘s New Cool Look

With his look I wanted to do all sorts of blues and whites because I did not want to go all traditional on typical white sneakers, which people would ideally do when they do a coloured suit with a white t-shirt inside. Most of the times people choose a white t-shirt, so I wanted to do a bit tone-on-tone, yet at the same time, do a little stand out shoes because it’s a classic combo now. It’s become classic, otherwise 2-3 years back, it was a cool look like “Oh! You look so cool, you’re doing a t-shirt under a suit”. But now it’s become a generic style of doing a simple white t-shirt with a suit, so I just wanted to add more character to the look and not do typical plain white sneakers. Also, that time Jordans were big, they still are but that time they had just come in. So, I was like “Okay, let’s stick to this”.

Jimmy Sheirgill‘s Timelessly Cool & Charming Look

Jimmy is actually a fan of New Balance and he always wears it with denim, so I said, “I didn’t want to do it with denim, it would be very typical”. So we did it with a kind of a trucker (jacket), which I think is a little Suede-ish, I remember. So with my colour palette, I wanted to go with a very pastel but a very Texas zone, because that brown suede is very American country. New Balance does this colour-block thing, which usually gives it a very retro feel to it. So I wanted to give it, overall, a very American retro (feel) for this (look, but) with a modern twist. This was usually the colour palette that you would see during the ’80s with a brown and then a sudden pop with like a blue or a white. I kept that full theme in mind, overall.

Irrfan Khan’s Pop Art Look

With Irrfan, I have mostly done a lot of layering, and every time I do the layering is when I give him sandals. If I had given him sandals with this, then it would look a bit too toned down. Because it is a simple kurta, I haven’t layered it up, yes, it had a quirky print on it, the silhouette is a little offbeat. So, with him, I balanced it out with sneakers because I wanted him to look a bit cooler, otherwise, it would have gone in a very kurta with sandal zone. So, I was like, “Okay, we’re doing sandals for other looks, let’s just do sneakers for this look. It’ll kind of up the cool game of the kurta”. Irrfan is always about the swag, he’s got that elegance and swag in equal measure, which nobody has.

Raj Kummar Rao‘s Moods of Monochrome Look

So initially, we were thinking of doing something solid, either white or black because there is enough happening on the shirt. So you know how Rajesh Pratap Singh, always organizes everything Indian, absolutely everything Indian, everything handloom. So, when we did the trials and I saw him overall, and it had a lot of patchwork, so I was like, “You know what, since your sneakers also have these kinds of blocks, so let’s do an entire block look”. Like you’re doing blocks on top, blocks on shoes and then there are stripes on the sides of the track pants, let’s just do full graphic. Do a complete graphic look head-to-toe, kind of like blocks and patches. It was just about that and that’s why we chose these shoes. Otherwise, here again, we were thinking of doing plain white.

We also love how Isha has apt and really cool names for all the looks she has conceptualised, rendering each of them unique. But talking about sneakers, we had a few queries of our own that she was happy to answer.

Q. Is there any particular sneaker style a man should definitely own?

I think everyone should own a very classic pair of sneakers. Like I know everybody loves white sneakers but the colour is not the preference. The fit and comfort is the most amount of preference you need to give. I always liked the Adidas Superstars, like they come up with lots of styles but the Superstars will never go out of style. And I’ll tell you something about Adidas Superstars, because of the front (design), it never gets de-shaped. It’s always intact, they are long-lasting than other sneakers. I like that hard front which you get, and I feel it’s really important because if you’re a sneakerhead you wear them every day. A sneaker is something that you for granted because you run, you do cartwheels, you crawl; you just do everything in that. Because you’re so comfortable you want to do it all the time and you wanna wear it 24/7. So, for something that’s been worn 24/7 and at the same time should not look worn out, that’s why I like the Superstars the most.

Q. Has there been a time where you liked a pair of sneakers so much that you built a look around it?

Yes, I have. I have done that very often with Ayushmann. Because he’s a sneakerhead, and I remember doing a lot of it during the promotions. There was a pair of Aldo sneakers which I did. There’s one where he is wearing Asics Tiger. When you look at them, the sneakers really look like ‘Okay, what’s there in them?’, but if you look at them differently, they are very typically ’80s. So, you know for every client you do like 2-3 events, sometimes you like the outfit a lot but then the sneakers are overpowering but then at the same time the sneakers are so good you don’t want to let go. I once revolved my entire look around these Adidas sneakers. I distinctively remember liking them a lot. There’s another Nike look in which I completely did the clothes according to those. It was a coincidence that they were different brands; there’s like Calvin Klein denim and Fila jacket. So, it’s a coincidence that they all did the same crimson colour.

Q. Is there a tried and tested look with sneakers that can work really well for any man?

So, I think the Riteish look is really good. I mean a bomber jacket or a trucker jacket, it’s a given that it’s going to look good. Anything which is like a no-brainer then that (look) is a no-brainer, but something that actually works most of the times and unexpectedly is the look that I did with Riteish Deshmukh. It’s still something that the Indian guys are sceptical about and I’m not talking about people in the industry but guys in general, they are still like, “How can I do sneakers with like a suit?” They are still not there. I think men should really start considering sneakers more and especially if they are doing Friday dressing or if they’re going out or like a cocktail night. But for something more versatile, I feel like a guy should invest in a good pair of black leather sneakers. Because if you’re doing like a suit and if you do like a black t-shirt inside and black sneakers, it will still look good, and you can do it with jeans also. So white sneakers are something that’s everybody’s favourite but white sneakers with a suit can end up looking stark. Sometimes it’ll go and it will look really fabulous, but I feel you will never go wrong with a pair of black sneakers. And the thing with black sneakers is that, especially the classic ones, in the first glance you will never be able to tell that the guy is wearing sneakers because they’ll look a pair of black formal shoes, they’ll look brogues but when you notice (them) then you’ll realise that he is wearing sneakers.

Q. Are there any tips you can share with us to maintain sneakers, in general?

Ayushmann, by the way, is very good at maintaining his white sneakers. Every time he wears them, he spends time on getting it done, getting it clean because he loves to wear them every day, so at least once a week he definitely takes care of them. To any guy who is obsessed with white sneakers, please maintain them like you’re brushing your teeth. Obviously, not doing it twice a day but you have to maintain it. It comes from within to be very honest. If you’re not a sneaker person and you’re doing it only for the style, then you will never be dedicated to it. But if you genuinely adore them then once a week you must take care of them. Use all those lotions and know the fabric of your sneakers. Even if you’re not a fashion person, you need to know whether it’s synthetic, or leather or faux leather or it has a rubber sole. Keep your wet wipes, lotions and sprays handy. Spray before you start wearing them, use the lotions to wipe anything off and all these brands even keep lotions and shoe care products now. So for white sneakers to last long, you must maintain them well. People have a myth, white is easiest to clean. What happens is, it’s white, right? You can always bleach it. But if you have a stain on a light pink pair of sneakers, it’s worse than having a stain on a pair of white sneakers. Because (chances are) the colour will come off of the pink. (Maintaining white sneakers) is not bad as you think. It could be worse if it was another colour.

We learned quite a few new things from this Q&A with Isha about the magnificent world of sneakers; how to style them and even how to maintain them. So, hence it is proved that sneakers are not just comfy buddies for your feet but can also instantly add character to your look! How many sneakerheads do we have out there? Let me know which one is the favourite pair you love to sport in the comments below.

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