Luxury, Unisex Clothing Line Launched by Merchandising Alumnus
Akron entrepreneur, Alexandre Marr, is a man with many skills.
Marr, a 2014 alumnus of the Kent State University School of Fashion's merchandising program, recently launched the Anantvir clothing line with his two business partners, Dominic Iudiciani and Chad Lally. Anantvir is a collection of 14 unisex pieces (including jackets, tops and pants), that fuses Indian silhouettes and silks with monochromatic and Western aesthetics. The black clothing, with simple ivory embroidery, was designed by Marr and manufactured in Kolkata, India. Iudiciani oversees photography and graphics, while Lally is in charge of the website and social media.
Marr became inspired to start the collection back in 2018 when he was searching for clothing inspiration online and came across photos of traditional Indian men's silk suits in royal blue. "It was an inspiring moment," Marr said.
Using Facebook, he got in touch with the manufacturer, Anantveer Agarwal, who works with his mother, Anju Agarwal, at the company she founded, Smriti Apparels in Kolkata, India. He asked the duo to create a custom similiar piece to the royal blue men's silk suites, but with modern design modifactions; monochrome with an architecural sihouette.
After Marr received his custom-ordered black clothing, he and his partners Iudiciani and Lally, got on the phone with Anantveer Agarwal and pitched the idea to create a their own brand.
"Rather than tweak his silhouettes, we would create new items," Marr said. "He was intrigued by my request and the more we spoke, we decided I could create something, a collection, taking traditional Indian Eastern menswear and making it avant-garde. He was on board and became our business partner and investor."
The three U.S. partners created Anantvir, a slight change of Agarwal's first name. Over the summer, Marr sketched clothing and emailed the designs to Agarwal. The samples were manufactured in India and mailed to Akron, where Marr would make tweaks to the design, fabric and embroidery. "Each piece took months," he said.
The team debuted items from their collection at Columbus Fashion Week and the samples appeared on the runway in October 2018. Additionally, female models wore them at a pop-up fashion show on Jan. 25 at Wonderball 2020 at the Columbus Museum of Art. Marr said he thinks the clothing is appropriate for men and women of all ages.
The team planning on one collection per year. "This is year one, and if it goes well we'll have year two," Marr said. Pieces from the collection range from $180 for harem pants or top, to $850 for a long gown with embroidery.
In addition to starting his fashion line, Marr is pursuing a master's degree in piano performance at the Kent State School of Music, where he is also a graduate assistant. When he's not in class or working on designs for his line, he performs at private events and gives lessons. He also serves as the music director and pianist for the Church of the Western Reserve in Pepper Pike and at Temple Israel in Akron, and in 2017, he and Merissa Coleman launched The Cabaret Project in partnership with Akron's Blu Jazz +.
From 2018 to 2019, Marr and Iudiciani had their own exhibition on display in the Kent State University Museum. Their exhibit featured unique, luxury pieces from their personal collections, offering a stark contrast to the more conventionally structured and tailored pieces that are found in traditional menswear. Their personal collections called into question the traditional binary between menswear and women’s wear in today's society.
While at Kent State, he plans to share his story of how he created Anantvir with students in the School of Fashion. "Northeast Ohio offers great opportunities in music and fashion," he said. "I have no desire to go anywhere."
(Portions of this story were taken from the Crain's Cleveland Business article by reporter Karen Farkas).