Teen Vogue Generation Next Designer Sheena Sood of Abacaxi on Using Your Imagination


Abacaxi started as a creative project, and Sood continued to do freelance textile and print design for companies like Anthropologie and Rachel Roy to keep herself afloat. In 2018, she felt beset by the industry again, so she took her savings from her previous jobs and fully dedicated herself to running Abacaxi.

Memories from the ’80s and ’90s serve as some of the main inspirations for the brand, whether it’s Sood’s mother’s bejeweled Indian outfits, or Sood’s love for Mariah Carey’s sparkling butterflies. She also lists Ashish and Maryam Nassir Zadeh as having a big impact on her aesthetic. “I love Ashish’s flamboyant designs and all of his sequin work, and Maryam Nassir Zadeh has such an amazing sense of color and styling,” Sood states. Her interest in delicate, hand-done embellishments is evident: Many of her designs feature elements such as mirror work, crochet, or tassels, which add a handmade feeling to the garments, reminding us of those who have crafted them and the legacies they come from.

Josefina Santos
Josefina Santos
Josefina Santos

Abacaxi’s fall 2020 collection, titled “The Butterfly Effect,” is inspired by geometric patterns found in nature, including orchid petals and animal prints. The collection is grounded in spiritual philosophy and the interconnectedness of all living beings on the planet. She is now preparing her spring 2021 collection, “Everything Is Within You, inspired by, as she described, “what happens when you go within yourself.” The color palette is pulled from the visions and colors you see when your eyelids are closed; your imagination. She reflected, “What you can see with your eyes closed is far beyond what you can see with them open.”

Several years ago, Sood was taking lessons in New York to learn the tabla, a type of drum with origins in South Asia. “The teacher was an incredible guru, and it was the sort of class where you could feel your mind expanding when he taught,” she says. “One time he asked us, ‘Do you think you can see more with your eyes open or with them closed?’ I immediately answered, ‘Closed.’ The possibilities are limitless, endless, and infinite when you go within. You can travel through your ultimate dimension inside.”

Josefina Santos
Josefina Santos

For this collection, Sood wants to convey the introspective celebration that happens within all of us. “We’re our whole universes,” she says. “Right now, we don’t have community in person, we only have ourselves. If you can remember that everything is within you, then you have everything you need. [You have] the power to do what you need and want.”

Sood is wearing a pair of fantastic dangling banana earrings when we speak over Zoom, and she explains how the fruit often finds its way into her collections. “Some of my patterns may look like flowers, but they are actually banana bunches,” she explains. She learned the magic of bananas on a trip to Indonesia, where her tour guide in Java was “part guide, part spiritual guru.” Sood elaborates, “[The guide] taught us about the spiritual history of the island and the local culture. The phrase in Javanese when someone finds their one true love is ‘love is like a banana tree.’ The banana tree only fruits and flowers once in its lifetime. It’s incredibly special.” That phrase — “love is like a banana tree” — appears on Sood’s tie-dye hoodies from previous collections, and the banana motif appears in her spring 2021 collection as well.

Vineeta wears Abacaxi. “I was so thrilled to find Vineeta via IG, and and immediately knew I  wanted to shoot with her because she is gorgeous. It is so awesome to see a South Asian woman who isn’t a typical size 0/2 model absolutely killing it. When I was growing up if I had seen a model like her represented, it would have completely changed the way I saw myself and understood what is possible! As someone who is also a size 12/14, I design with different sizes and shapes in mind and like to photograph the pieces on various people to showcase that,” says the designer. 

Josefina Santos



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