Farida Apparel is the genderless concept breaking down barriers, one bespoke stitch at a time. Schön! speaks to Imran Malik, founder and designer of the brand.
“Farida stems from my own vision and personal beliefs when it comes to fashion,” Malik tells us. “It should be limitless, with no boundaries, hence having a genderless apparel line.” With a career as a music publicist, it might seem an unorthodox transition to make – going from creating a client’s image and working on their styling to crafting the very garments that the discerning few would wear – but for Malik, it was a seamless and evident change to undertake. “It’s something I wanted to do for such a long time. I have always had a clear vision as to what I wanted my brand to be, which has a strong synergy with my personal style.”
Baptising the brand after his mother (whose name he also carries tattooed on his arm), purveying a fully personal sense of history to the label, Malik founded Farida Apparel in late 2014. The fundamental principles – that of gender free design and unparalleled excellence in terms of quality – quickly came to define the Farida core. “Having a genderless line was one of my first priorities when curating Farida,” he explains. “I believe it echoes a lot of people’s personal preferences.”
Tapping into a wave of deconstructive designs, Farida Apparel seeks to cater for the individual, administering agency to the subject, rather than differentiating according to sex. “Fashion has become more and more experimental and free in many ways,” Malik confirms. “We are not so concerned with sticking to a certain lane when it comes to consuming fashion. It’s an individual’s creative expression and what form that takes that is so exciting.”
While theorists and the arts have undeniably been taking on gender constructs for decades, it seems a fairly novel notion for the very corporate world of gendered fashion. “If you look at the varied influences (both cultural and social) amongst brands today, whether it’s from a visual perspective on a campaign shoot or a deeper rooted motive behind their collection, it’s evident fashion is moving forwards,” Malik muses. “I think a lot of that has to do with the consumer, their creative expression and the broad landscape of consumption.”
One challenge the designer faced was to cater for both male and female body shapes – not so different in essence, but minute tensions have to be taken into account. The process began with close studies of the body: “It’s all about taking time to analyse the structure of a garment and figuring out what works for both forms.” With sleek volumes and careful cuts that embrace the lines of the body, Malik seeks to go with individual corporeal structures, so as not to be limited by labels. “Playing with different fabrics and their textures, fully exploring the design elements and gaging how they fit both forms is extremely important. I am so glad we took the time to get this right and that is why I think we have achieved something truly special with our AW15 collection.”
Capsule 1.0, the AW15 collection, works with a combination of classic and more modern textiles, blending mixed wools and textured cotton with contemporary technical fabrics such as neoprene and meshes. “I would spend hours in different fabric stores all over the world touching different materials, taking away samples and figuring out which would be the best one to use,” Malik relates. “Quality was extremely important to me so the texture of fabrics had to be the best of the best.” Time was no issue as the quality and patterns had to be immaculate.
Finer details and a bespoke service complete the concept of Farida Apparel – something that Italy was able to cater for when it came to producing the collection. “I spent some time exploring options to produce in London as our patterns were created there, but after a while it made sense to make this happen in Venice,” Malik tells us. “My creative director had worked with a couture seamstress in the past and when he referred her, it made absolute sense for her to be a part of Capsule 1.0.” Hand-finished detailing and exquisite textiles combine to cater for a lifestyle, exceeding the boundaries of a mere commodity.
Farida is at once a hub for creatives and visionaries, as well as a cultural motor: one that drives for change. In line with this, Malik wants Farida Apparel to develop into “a lifestyle that consumers are not only invested in, but also culturally influenced by. We want to end up by gaining awareness and customers in multiple territories and work with some fantastic teams that broaden our reach.”
Capsule 1.0 can be purchased at www.farida-apparel.com