This homegrown sports and streetwear brand is the outfit of choice for the national football team, B-town celebs
Athleisure may have entered our fashion dictionaries well before the pandemic, but found pride of place in our wardrobes only afterwards.
Delhi-based brother-sister duo Avni and Ambar Aneja, had the foresight to cash in on this trend – now a basic sartorial need - and launched SIX5SIX Street, a homegrown collaborative sports and street wear brand, in 2018. Through its two distinct verticals, the brand manufactures official jerseys for sport teams and individuals, as well as comfortable streetwear inspired by the latest trends.
“Sport has been the biggest teacher for both of us. Avni played basketball for most of her school and college life, and I played cricket. The intersection with fashion happened naturally for us. We really wanted a medium of expression that would incorporate all the culture, thoughts, music, and even phrases that inspire us, and fashion is the best way to do that. This is the reason why our line is heavily influenced by streetwear trends,” Ambar says.
The most noteworthy brand ambassadors for their sportswear are Sunil Chettri and the entire Indian national football team, FC Goa, and KBFC. However, their streetwear line is not far behind on star value, having been seen on the likes of Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Kriti Sanon, Vivian Divine, Vicky Kaushal, and Ayushmann Khurrana.
The founders never wanted to create a sportswear brand; they wanted to create a teamwear brand and they have succeeded in doing that.
“Our mission was to change the way kitting has always been done for athletes in India, from an amateur level to the topmost players. Having played team sports in school and college, we’re aware of the challenges that come with these kits, and knew this was something we could change,” the founders share.
The streetwear vertical started as a passion project and a creative outlet. Avni says they were making clothes they wanted to wear, and soon a lot of people around them "wanted to wear these clothes as well".
Ambar conceptualised the brand while he was studying Global Business Marketing and International Relations at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. As CEO of SIX5SIX, he manages daily operations as well as the marketing direction of the brand.
Avni, who is the Creative Director, brings in her unique design vision. She is an alumna of Lady Shri Ram College for Women and the London College of Fashion, where she pursued a master’s in fashion entrepreneurship and innovation. Avni describes herself as the “chief curator” of street wear and hopes to see SIX5SIX streetwear worn by people of all nationalities.
Their choice of name bears an interesting story. When the siblings were struggling to find a name that would be eligible for registration in Class 25 of the Trademark Act in India, they started maintaining an excel document with a potential list. Over 200 names had already been crossed out, and they were discussing some more names while on a flight. Avni was scribbling on her boarding card, which displayed the flight number 656, and that was the name that really struck a chord.
The product lineup
SIX5SIX Street offers clothing inspired by everyday life, pop culture, and music, along with graphic and slogan tees that resonate with savvy millennials. They also have oversized co-ord sweats, trendy bucket hats, tie-dye separates, and cool jackets for layering, in their collection.
Their sport vertical exclusively makes team jerseys. Since inception a short while ago, they have signed up with the Indian national football team and many other teams. Currently, the label is the jersey partner for AIFF, ISL-FC Goa and Estoril Praia, but Ambar hopes to make them the official teamwear brand for India and the world.
Footballer Sunil Chhetri in a SIX5SIX jersey
The manufacturing and procurement is done entirely in India, and currently they retail their streetwear on their website and through For The Culture, their partner store in New Delhi. Other partner stores include Direct UK and Weston Corp Singapore. Products are priced upward of Rs 1,999. Their licensed teamwear is priced between Rs 999 and Rs 2,499.
The growth story
As a bootstrapped business, they put in an initial investment of Rs 3 crore towards the realisation of their dream of becoming a global sporting goods super brand from India. Since then, they have grown to a team of over 20 people, and will soon be hitting the revenue mark of $2.5 million.
Soon after they first launched, they showcased their work at Lakme Fashion Week, which led to tremendous exposure. Avni shares, “Sports and fashion are at the intersection of culture in the modern world, and we find ourselves in the right place to make a positive impact.”
SIX5SIX leverages its associations with the sport teams it partners with to spread the word about their products. Social media and celebrity sightings in their clothes also help.
They believe their design-first approach to teamwear sets them apart from their competitors. “We’re obsessed with identity building and storytelling and can confidently say no one does it better than us in this field. To craft a unique identity for a club/team and then build on it with top quality merchandise is what sets us apart,” adds Ambar with pride.
Their products are available pan-India, and they also receive a fair share of orders from customers based abroad. Recently, they have tied up to work with a few football clubs in Portugal and the UK.
Actor Kriti Sanon strikes a pose in SIX5SIX athleisure wear
Challenges and future plans
Although the sport industry was one of the worst hit during the pandemic, Ambar believes it has also been the quickest to recover.
“We utilised the time to re-look at our strategy and direction and plug any sort of leaks. We were able to plan for the future and closed several contracts with clubs that kick start in 2021. Although the pandemic has been tough, it’s forced us to become better at what we do and see things from a global perspective,” he explains.
With this in mind, the team is working to map out its physical retail footprint around the country, and has allotted three years to achieve this goal. Simultaneously, they are working on a tech-based solution to change the concept of amateur sports kitting as it exists in India. They hope to create a model where all sports and all players will have access to their products at any given time.
For now, Ambar and Avni are basking in the pride of their designs being worn by a national team.
“As kids, we always saw Nike on the chest of team India. For Nike to be replaced with SIX5SIX was hugely rewarding."
"Another proud moment for us has been to make our brand international in its reach. One of the clubs that we work with in Portugal recently put up a billboard announcing SIX5SIX as their kitting partners. Seeing SIX5SIX on the streets of Portugal made us so proud,” they share, signing off.