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Meet the man who designed the new jerseys for Indian cricketers

With the Test jersey selling out on kit sponsor Adidas's website in two days, it's evident that designer Aaquib Wani's focus on simplicity and comfort has gone down well with Indian fans

Published: Jun 21, 2023 05:52:19 PM IST
Updated: Jun 23, 2023 04:57:57 PM IST

Meet the man who designed the new jerseys for Indian cricketersAaquib Wani, Founder and creative director, Aaquib Wani Design
“You have to design something big,” Aaquib Wani, a self-taught designer, was told in December last year. He had worked with Adidas, a leading global sportswear brand, for many projects, including the ones featuring their brand ambassadors, Ranveer Singh and Rohit Sharma. But this was even bigger.   
In the second week of January, when he was finally told his studio would be making the Indian cricket team’s new jerseys, he felt it was his biggest opportunity, especially as Adidas, a global brand, had shown faith in him when it could have gone to any leading designer worldwide.   

“Knowing that cricket has played a substantial part while growing up, because I would always play the game, it was an emotional moment. I had worked with individuals and families in the past but this was like representing the country. Making the national team’s jersey—the scale was huge and it felt amazing,” Wani tells Forbes India.   
The 32-year-old, who had fallen in love with art at an early age, was born and brought up in Delhi although his family is from Kashmir. Like most parents in India, Wani’s parents and relatives, too, wanted him to pursue a professional degree in business or engineering. But he was “terrible” at studies, having failed Class 11 twice.  
“That’s when I felt I was a let-down for my parents and the society. So, I picked up a guitar and started a music band. But it didn’t go well with my relatives and everyone around. I was called names. It didn’t stop me, though. I started doing what I wanted to without paying much attention to anything else,” Wani recalls.  

Meet the man who designed the new jerseys for Indian cricketersSmriti Mandhana in T20 Jersey Image: Courtesy Aaquib Wani 
He took up art soon after to earn a living—he would draw in his diary from an early age—and started making artwork for bands. In 2014, he landed a job with Rock Street Journal (RSJ). “By now, my parents realised I was doing fine, and that there were professional opportunities with designing,” he says.   
While Wani, who was part of Forbes India’s 30 under 30 cohort in 2021, never went to college or took a course in design, he learnt to work with basic design software on his own. “There was YouTube as well to learn things. I pretty much taught myself,” he says.  
In 2018, he started his own design studio, the eponymous Aaquib Wani Design in Delhi. There has been no looking back since.  

Also read: Aaquib Wani: Bringing technology to experiential design
But the India jersey isn’t his first tryst with sportswear. “We had already done jersey designs in the past. We had worked on Real Kashmir Football Club’s jersey as well as the Rajasthan Royals jersey in the Indian Premier League (IPL). By now, we kind of had an idea of what works well as a pattern and as a design on the field,” he says.  

Meet the man who designed the new jerseys for Indian cricketersVirat Kohli in the ODI Jersey Image: Courtesy Aaquib Wani 
But that was just the start. The real work began as Wani and his team started working on colours, designs, fabrics, patterns, etc they were going to use. They all had to be tested to ensure players had the “maximum comfort” wearing the jerseys on the field.   
“There were multiple stakeholders involved, so whatever we were trying had to be okayed by them. We followed the basic process first: Identifying the kind of fabric, the kind of blue, etc, and then moved on to the artwork,” adds Wani.  
After trying several samples for over five months, Wani and his team finally received the go-ahead in May. It was the time when the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) also announced Adidas as the official kit sponsor till 2028.  
The task wasn’t just to bring out the jerseys but other playing paraphernalia as well. “Beyond what we see players wearing on the TV, there are a lot of other training wears that we had to make. We also had to make different variants. The whole process was to pick a colour that is nice and looks rich on the field as well. Using the traditional Adidas three-stripes is how we ended up making it look the way it does. There are puffer jackets, sweaters, pullovers, hoodies and a lot more that we worked on. It was a great experience,” he says. 

Meet the man who designed the new jerseys for Indian cricketers(L-R) Batting coach Vikram Rathour, fielding coach T Dilip, head coach Rahul Dravid, and bowling coach Paras Mhambrey Image: Courtesy Aaquib Wani 
The new jersey was unveiled on June 1, and received appreciation from the Indian fans. What did Wani do to bring the fresh touch? “The idea of making it different really worked. How did we do that? The kind of collars, the kind of lean design, the patterns used around shoulders, under-arm design, the back—we wanted to make it look fresh and special. Obviously, we took help from the Adidas catalogue, their colours, etc,” Wani reveals.  
“But what also made it special was the kind of design. This is where we thought we would talk about our grassroots. Something that we are proud of. While Indians have a lot to be proud of, we decided to focus on two things: Textiles, which is a vast industry in India, and our national animal, the tiger. We tied in the two and created a pattern that talks about these two things.”  
There are three jerseys that were unveiled: the ODI, T20I and Test kits. What sets them apart? “We introduced a new blue in the ODI jersey. With the Test jersey, we have been getting a lot of great feedback and even people at Adidas were surprised that it got sold out within two days on the website. It was again to do with the kind of blue we ended up using on the collar tippings and the blue we chose to write India with on the jersey, the fabric and, obviously, the three stripes on the shoulders. It wasn’t that typical white boring jersey anymore but a cool piece to wear. It has a style and is sporty enough to be worn on the ground,” says Wani.  

Meet the man who designed the new jerseys for Indian cricketersShubhman Gill in Test Jersey Image: Courtesy Aaquib Wani
  A lot of people have lauded the jerseys for their simplicity as well and it aligns with Wani’s philosophy of “less is more”. “One doesn’t have to fit in all the skills they know or fill it up with too many designs. We also felt that we have to reflect Adidas as a brand in the designs and Adidas itself is not a loud, in-your-face brand,” he says.   
Designing the Indian cricket team’s jersey wasn’t an easy task for Wani and his team. A little here and there, and fans would have lashed out, as has been the case in the past. But he feels it is all part of the job and one can’t pay too much attention to it.   
“For us, it was an opportunity to do our best. We really didn’t think what people would say about it. We got lucky that people loved it so much. It has obviously made us feel proud as a studio because we are designing at an international level.” 

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