Fariba Soltani creates luxury designer scarves that are modern, bold and classic, but with a twist.
Available for women and men, Fariba channels her Persian heritage, architectural background and appreciation of space and nature into her unique pattern designs. She uses the softest cashmere, silk, linen and virgin wool to bring abstract patterns to life. Designed in London, and crafted in Italy, the authentic, clean patterns and natural colours are a chic, timeless piece to add to any wardrobe. Luxurious Magazine’s reporter, Sabi Phagura, caught up with her to find out about scarves and more.
LM: Fariba, we are so excited to be chatting to you about all things scarves. But do tell us, how did you get started?
FS: It all started when I was still working in an architecture firm. In my free time I was creating patterns, and at one point, I thought of turning them into a product. Textile and silk, in particular, looked to be the most promising material to work with as it brings all the details out beautifully. I always loved to complement my look with bold patterned accessories, so it was natural for me to explore scarves as a suitable product.
Quality of material and the fine tactile feel had always been very important for me, so when seeking a factory to produce my scarves, these traits were the first things that I looked for. My search led me to Italy, a country famed for their know-how and high standards.
I had my first set of samples from my chosen producer and I was overjoyed by the results. It was such an amazing feeling seeing my hand drawings and flat images on my computer turned into a product that I was very proud of. I decided to test the market, so I presented my first collection at Scoop Fashion Show in London in 2014. There I met Fenwick Bond Street who bought the entire collection. That gave me the approval I needed to progress further.
The brand looks and design style has evolved a lot since then. But the core principle is still the same; bold design and superb quality. My range covers women’s and men’s scarves and pocket squares. The biggest part of our range is the unisex jacquard virgin wool scarves that work very well with geometric patterns.
LM: Tell us a bit about your background. We hear that your parents had totally different career aspirations for you?
FS: Coming from Iran, my parents wanted me to go into medicine, which was just not for me. I was always into creativity, and medicine, according to me, had not so much room for that. When I moved to the UK, I took it as a fresh start and signed up for a foundation course in art and design, which later led to an Interior Architecture course at Kingston University. In fact, I have followed in my mother’s footsteps; she had a creative soul, designing and weaving fine Persian rugs. I think my late father and my mother are proud of my accomplishments and are happy that I followed my path.
LM: You come from an architecture background. What was that like and how did it help you break into the scarf industry?
FS: When you know one design discipline, it is easy to move to other disciplines as you already have vision and personal angles of looking at things. You just change your medium that you work with. When I created my first set of scarves, they were very much based on a combination of natural and geometric lines without really thinking about architecture per se, but subconsciously the love for geometric composition and shape came to play a big role in my life.
LM: What was your first break in designing scarves?
FS: I was exploring certain themes for creating patterns. One idea that fascinated me the most was the shapes and patterns made by smoke. The idea was to capture the patterns in nature that our naked eyes cannot clearly see. I created a dark room and spent weeks taking hundreds of pictures. I was mesmerized with the result and these patterns led to my first collection, called “The Atrisa” – which in Farsi means “fire”. This was the collection that was bought by Fenwick Bond Street.
LM: What have been some of the challenges your career presents?
FS: There is so much competition out there and the market is saturated. Customers are spoiled with choices and it is challenging to find ways of putting yourself in front of the right customer who cares for craftsmanship, design and quality. Not only are there so many independent designer scarves out there, scarves are a big seller for large luxury brands as it is one of their entry point items.
LM: You have mentioned in previous interviews “in fashion architecture is important”. Can you elaborate on this?
FS: What is architecture? It is form serving a function primarily for the users. When we design a new line, it is not only the pattern we look at but the quality of materials, the shape, the proportions and the angles. These all combined have an effect on the way the final piece is presented when worn and helps the user to achieve a certain aesthetic.
LM: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
FS: I am very much inspired by my Persian heritage and my architectural background. They define who I am. I move with the stories written on the beautiful tiles of Isfahan, my hometown, and the amazing gardens of Shiraz that gave the world the name “Paradise”. There is a wealth of inspiration there which is aligned with my architectural love. I turn these inspirations to something modern yet capable of telling the story that initiated them.
LM: You create and design scarves for both men and women, but who would you say is your customer?
FS: My clients are located all over the world, but they all share some common characteristics. They are all curious with an interest in alternative design, great quality and stories. They care deeply about their personal style and individuality.
LM: How hard is it for anyone to break into the fashion industry these days? What would be your advice be to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
FS: Fashion certainly is not an easy career path. What makes it hard is the saturated market, the minimum orders and the seasonality of it.
You must study the market well and see if there is an appetite for the product. Do not enter an already saturated market if you have exactly the same product. The more unique the story, the better the chances you have to succeed.
Knowing who will be your final customer will help you to design the right product for the market you are approaching. Have a good understanding of your budget. Sometimes a tight budget is not a bad thing – it makes you more creative and diligent as to how to spend it. Try to learn certain skills and get lots of work done in-house and try not to outsource everything as these ongoing costs create a hole in your budget which is mainly to be spent on product development and marketing.
Without sales, you have no business. You have to learn sales skills and also a good understanding of where the places are that you can approach with your product. Do not start the business and search for the market after. These have to be done in parallel, otherwise, you will be spending a lot of time searching for the market while you have stock lying at your home or studio for months.
I will not discourage anyone to start a fashion business, but I encourage them to do their homework. It is not enough to just launch a brand based on the love of creating it. There is so much more to it. I wish everyone the best of luck on their creative journey.
LM: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. With the weather turning colder, we’ll definitely be checking out the scarf range so we can be warm and sophisticated this winter!
FS: My pleasure. Have fun!