Designer Saif Siddiqui and his ISHU scarf are trying to bring privacy back in fashion
It was six years ago that entrepreneur Saif Siddiqui had an epiphany. He was in London and a friend took a picture of him standing in front of a motorcycle. When they saw the picture later, the reflector of the motorcycle had played spoilt sport as it reflected the flashlight making it tough to see anything else.
Singer Joe Jonas wears the scarf to avoid the paparazzi. Pic/ishu.com
"It was then that I realised that this could come handy. What if celebrities could wear something that would deflect the paparazzi's cameras," says the 28-year-old on a call from London.
He used that experience to launch the ISHU — mashup of the words 'issue' and 'shush' — scarf, which celebrities all over the world (think Jo Jonas, Paris Hilton and Major Lazer) are wearing to thwart the cameras. The scarf is embedded with millions of tiny crystals that reflect light. The end result is that when a celebrity wearing the scarf is photographed, the scattering of light makes it an overexposed picture. Siddiqui travelled all over Tokyo, Korea and Turkey and all the fashion weeks of the world to gain knowledge of the technique.
But, it took the Amsterdam-born Delhi boy, now settled in London, a while to get the product up and going. And a lot of far-sightedness. After completing his schooling in Amsterdam, he attended college in London and studied branding, advertising and business. He then worked with a branding and event company to get to know the inside of this business — "I wanted to know how celebrities worked, how brands approached them, strategy, marketing, social networking."
Eight years ago, he started Access All Brands, a company that helps fashion start-ups contact celebrities to push their product. And then in October of 2015, he finally launched the ISHU scarf, and subsequently, mobile phone covers. "We live in an age of social media — every picture is commented on. Social media needs to be used responsibly and I wanted people to know that privacy is important. Actually, these days, invisibility is a super power."
His main intention, he says, is to bring back privacy in a world where everyone has a mobile phone, and everyone has an online 'brand/image' to protect. "With the ISHU, people can take control. People should have the right to choose when they want to be photographed whether you are a celebrity or not."
Since his company already had access to Hollywood celebrities, Siddiqui has an impressive list of clients, which also includes Swedish House Mafia and Jeremy Piven. He is now planning to work with Bollywood stars next. "I want to work with the right influencers. Maybe Shah Rukh Khan or Abhishek Bachchan. Let's see what happens. It's still all so new. But it's truly the need of the hour."