Posted on November 05 2018
How did you two meet?
Our first meeting was one of those times in life you look back on and realise that it was fate, for sure. We met in Goa through a mutual friend who knew both of us loved fashion and both of us were from London. We chatted and chatted and then chatted some more! Our friendship started from that moment as we realised we had so many similarities, we both studied at the London Institute of Art, both lived on the same road in London, our birthdays were in the same week, we had both lived on canal boats before - the list went on. We very quickly became inseparable.
The first trip to meet our tailors in Delhi, the FARA story begins.
Our first production of silk scarves was a beautiful moment
Fumie teaches the team which needles to use for our fine silk
What led to the creation of FARA?
What led to the creating of FARA is an interesting question because I should say our love of fashion, creativity, and design, but actually it was our friendship. In the first years of FARA both of us had babies, both of us became single mothers, and experienced a lot of stress and strain in our lives. FARA was our saviour, it was where we were able to come together and make each other feel happy by growing our dream, it was ours and nobody else’s and it was our safe place. I do remember one particular night we had at the Saturday Night Market in Goa, we were sharing our little stall, Fumie on one side with her little collection and me on the other with mine, and we were talking design and we were describing such similar garments that we just looked at each other and said “um, shall we do this together?”. I had been brought up to be careful about mixing business and friendship, so I wrote her an email, even though we saw each other every day, to ask Fumie if she officially wanted to start a business together, she wrote back saying “YES!”.
We used to have so much fun at our little stall at the Saturday Night Market in Goa
What does FARA stand for?
Literally, FARA stands for “Fumie and Rachel’s adventures”, we created our first collection with ideas of travel, comfort, ease but also inspired by tales we told each other of places we had been. Our first Silk scarf collection was inspired by the four places in India we both loved most.
FARA is a design lead fashion label with a focus creating garments that are made to the highest standard while still being affordable. Our aims are to work in a fair fashion environment, from our tailors working under ethical to our customers - we want everyone to benefit.
What roles do each of you take on in the partnership?
The roles that Fumie and I take on in our FARA partnership have transformed and grown since we started the label. When we first started FARA we both lived in Goa and we did everything together. The reason our partnership works so well is that we both have gifts and talents that we enjoy and feel most at ease with.
We try to design the collections together, come up with the mood of the season and the direction. Fumie then starts to bring it to life. Our studio is in East London where Fumie is now based, and she creates all of our patterns and samples there.
Fumie in the studio in London starting the Serpent illustration
Never without her tea
When she has finished that I handle the production in Delhi while Fumie starts to illustrate our new scarf collection. During the European winter months Fumie handles the website whilst I run our boutiques in Goa and manage photo shoots for the Spring Summer collection. In concrete terms, I am the Managing director and Fumie is the Creative Director.
Rachel on a recent photoshoot for our store Alchemy in Goa
Who’s your favourite designer and why?
Wow, that is almost an impossible question to answer, we appreciate so many designers and what they do. Fumie is more focused with this, her favourite designer is Yohji Yamamoto because his ethos and concept never change. I can’t pick just one but I love Gucci because he always makes me feel inspired. Also Alessandro Michele, who has really bought an essence of spiritual, boheme and nature into the design and we both really love to go over to Bond Street when we are in London to sift through the collection
Checking out Guccis collection inspired by the snake
Fumie inspired by the silk scarf collection at Gucci
How does environment play a factor in your designs?
The role the environment plays in our designs is everything. I am based in Goa most of the year and Fumie is based in London now and we both feel so inspired by our environment. When we met we discovered three things that were very important to the foundation of our design; we both loved art, we both loved to travel, we both loved beautiful clothes. Traveling on a local bus in the heart of India didn’t mean that we had to wear baggy old clothes, or being in the streets of Delhi where you must cover up didn’t mean shoving a cheap scarf on our heads. We wanted our collection to translate from the The Desert to the streets of London.
A trip we took to Jaipur a few years ago with Ruby and Shion
You can check out our blog on Jaipur right here
What steps do you take to ensure ethical production of your pieces?
In order to ensure ethical production we take many steps. We have worked with our tailors for a long time and make sure that the factory is certified, workers are paid fairly and work reasonable hours. Not pushing constantly and supporting the Slow Fashion movement is a great way to support our tailors too. By producing carefully and fairly, items are often “out of stock” and sometimes our collections are delayed, but this is because we don't ask our tailors to work overtime.
We keep our mark-ups fair so that we can pay for our production and not squeeze down the costs as this leads to unfair pay somewhere in the chain.
Using hand-woven fabrics we can support local artisans in Varanasi. We also use hemp for a couple of our dresses, because this luxuriously soft fabric is one of the most environmentally sustainable fibres.
Walk us through the design process for an illustrated silk scarf
The design process for our illustrated silk scarf is quite extensive. Each of our scarves tells a story, and the stories come from our personal adventures. Our first collection was based on the four places Fumie and I loved most in India: Goa which was our home at the time, Rajasthan, Varanasi, and The Himalayas. All of those places had such meaning to us, and quite quickly we came up with imagery we felt represented our experiences in those places.
Our first production of Silk scarves was a proud moment, here Fumie is showing the Himalaya scarf
The real life Holy cow that inspired our Goa Silk Scarf at the Anjuna Flee market.
Our second collection was created after Fumie had moved back to London, we missed creating together so Fumie and Shion came to India and we took our three children on an adventure to Rajasthan and the Taj Mahal as well as some chill time in Goa, and this led us to create the Tiger, the Serpent, the Monkey, and the Peacock.
A little look into the process of the design for the Tiger Silk Scarf
The final layout of the Tiger scarf before it is printed on to silk
We are now working on a new collection which is based on environmental issues. More and more we become aware of the toll humanity is taking on Mother Earth and both of us felt we wanted to direct our energies towards these issues we felt passionate about.
The process of creating our scarves begins with our concept, Fumie then starts to illustrate them and I use photoshop to place our images. Both of these stages are quite time consuming as we are perfectionists and we feel we are creating a piece of art each time, so we pour our whole hearts in. When we are finally satisfied with the layouts and illustrations we start the printing process, a digital printer runs the silk through and brings the artwork to life, the scarves are then taken to our tailors where they are hemmed and finished. The entire process can take a couple of months.
What is your favourite piece you’ve designed?
We both have different favourite pieces we’ve designed, for me it is the Varanasi Silk Scarf, when I look at this piece I almost cry, it brings up a lot of emotion and I feel totally satisfied with its beauty. Fumie loves the Lana Dress and Jaipur Jumpsuit, we worked hard on these two garments and both love to wear them.
What’s your favourite part about running a label?
My favorite part of running a label is friendship. Of course we love the design and we love what we do, but our label is about our friendship, our trust in each other, our common understanding and respect for each other, and that we are not just running a label, we are living our dream.
What is one goal you have for FARA in the coming seasons?
Our goal for FARA is to grow, always to grow. I don’t mean just simply grow our sales, or how many stores we stock, but to grow creatively, to design more together. One of our passions also is to work more with the community around us and to collaborate with other creatives so we are starting to plan ways in which we can do that, so watch out for that!
We have grown in so many ways since we opened our first little store in Goa, we have loved every step and cant wait to see what unfolds in the future.
Our first ever sign board at our little store in Goa