July 25, 2024

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Meet Ishan founder of mental-health fashion brand Apophenia [@ishannandra]

4 min read

Therapist by day and founder of Apophenia by night, Ishan Nandra is creating a brand for the culture. GUAP sits with the founder and designer to learn more about the up-and-coming brand. 

GUAP: What does Apophenia mean and why did you name the brand that? 

Ishan: In a literal sense, Apophenia means to make meaningful connections through seemingly unrelated things. I actually learned about it on the show The Queen’s Gambit. There’s a scene when after playing chess on her ceiling a psychiatrist asks Anya Taylor Joy if she has apophenia. When I saw that, my brain fucking exploded. 

I make meaning from so many random things. I could look at clouds, for example, and see a smiley face in the clouds– that’s apophenia, and I do that every day. And I think everybody can relate to that because I believe that everybody has individual perceptions. We all make meaning from things regularly. So I decided to call the brand Apophenia, to capture that state of mind and celebrate it. 

GUAP: As someone with no fashion background, what drew you to starting Apophenia? 

Ishan: Since I was a kid, I have always been interested in fashion. I used to save up my lunch money to buy new clothes and skip Hinduism classes to go to Oxford Street and look at brands’ new drops. 

When lockdown came around, and I didn’t really have an outlet for my creativity, I started Apophenia. 

Especially with my background in mental health, Apophenia felt like the perfect way to bridge the gap between mental health and fashion. I’m not just selling clothes. I am promoting a philosophy and sometimes, I donate all profits to mental health charities. 

GUAP: In its short time since launch, Apohpenia has become a festival staple. What about Apophenia draws the music/festival crowd to it? 

Ishan: So I’ve always loved music, and happen to have a lot of friends in the space. One of my best friends is the founder of Vedic Roots, a music label sound system. They regularly host events, so we decided to partner with them for one of their events, and it just took off from there. 

Now, Apophenia creates exclusive shirts for music events and we throw them out into the crowd. Most recently, we distributed our products at the Boiler Room in Southall, and since then, I’ve seen loads of people walking around in our gear. I think people are now naturally building a link between Apophenia and music, and they love to see us at these events. 

GUAP: Apophenia has really distinct visuals compared to other street-style brands. What is the goal behind the visuals? 

Ishan: The goal behind the brand is for people to form their own perceptions. So, I try to create visuals that are really intricate and intentional. I hand draw all the prints on our clothes, and really try for the clothing to be thought-provoking. I think there are way too many clothes and trends out there, so I want people to be buying our products because it means something bigger to them. 

GUAP: Even the models for Apophenia are more than just their faces– why did you make that choice? How did you source them? 

Ishan: All of our models are actually my friends. I believe that everybody has a story and for us, the story of the model comes before their aesthetic. 

Apophenia has never just been about me. It’s been about the community. So, I’m just highlighting my friends and making sure we all come up together. I want to share all kinds of stories that will hopefully inspire others. 

GUAP: Coming to your slogan, what does the “Way of The Pattern” mean? 

Ishan: The pattern is an abstract concept. It is something that is formed by the individual when they connect the random dots in their life. Everyone’s pattern is different because everyone has different experiences and dots that they connect. So the way of the Pattern is the path that the individuals find by connecting their own dots.

GUAP: What’s next for you and Apophenia? 

Ishan: I’m looking to build community in a meaningful way. We’re having a party on October 21st and I’m hoping to fill the room with like-minded people so everyone can learn from each other, talk to one another, and have a good time. 

Beyond the party, we’re also hoping to have interactive art exhibitions that enable people to perceive and make art. I’m not going to give too much away, but I want to get to a point where the community will make our products, not me. 

Discover more from GUAP’s Arts and Culture section here. 


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