Category Archives: Fashion

Raff Handbags

Raff Fair Trade Handbags

Raff bags

I had been looking for a small, sturdy, stylish and comfortable leather backpack for ages when I came across the Hugo backpack from Raff.   I was thrilled to discover a contemporary backpack, that can also be worn as a cross body bag, which has been handcrafted using traditional techniques.  Each bag is handmade in India according to Fair Trade principles.  We caught up with Raff’s Creative Head, Rashi Agarwal, to find out more about the brand.

 

Raff bags

How would you describe your brand?

Raff is inspired from the simplicity of minimalism. A contemporary brand but still traditional in the way that the bags are made. We focus on the details and the craftsmanship to provide great quality leather bags which are unique and stand the test of time. Raff supports Fair Trade and we pay fair wages to our craftsmen, which is an integral part of the brand.

Raff bag Maus

What inspired you to start a handcrafted leather bags company?

Leather is something that I love working with as it only gets better with age. After graduating in 2012 from London College of Fashion in Accessory design, with the extensive knowledge of leather bag making under my arsenal, I joined a leading leather handbag company in India as a Product Designer. Working there for two years gave me a good insight into how the leather handbag industry works. During this time I met my now fiance and partner Maurits. Designing and making handbags at home for myself was a hobby. A tote bag that I made (which is now called Maus, named after Maurits)(above) inspired us to develop the range and start our own leather bags company. We wanted to create something that is unique but is still practical and of top quality. We worked hard on the designs and the brand for two years before finally launching Raff in January, 2016.

Why buffalo leather?

Raff handbags are made of natural, vegetable tanned buffalo leather which is one of the strongest hides and provides durability to the bag. It is the perfect leather for hand stitching as it doesn’t stretch over-time. Also, our bags are quite unique in their shapes and it is an important design element. The buffalo leather holds the shape really well even with frequent use.
Raff bags
Raff bags
Raff bags

What makes a Raff bag unique?

Raff’s unique shapes sets it apart from other bags in the market, yet they still blend seamlessly with a modern women’s wardrobe. The handbags are completely handmade and hand stitched using a saddle stitch technique. This painstaking and traditional construction method offers unmatched strength, lasting longer than normal machine stitching. This is not commonly seen in brands at our prices, as it is very time consuming and a dying art. We wanted to bring that to our brand and hence each bag is completely handmade with no use of any machinery. Our leathers are environmentally friendly and harmless to the skin. They are made by artisans in India who are provided fair pricing and healthy living conditions.
Raff handbags
Raff handbags
Raff handbags

Where do you find your inspiration?

Inspiration is everywhere. Modern art and architecture are a great source of inspiration. I look for interesting shapes that I could redesign and create into a silhouette for handbags. Raff’s current collection was inspired from a top view image of the Praxis 48 typewriter by Ettore Sottsass and Hans von Klier. I took the negative space and started sketching, which resulted in the design for Maus.

What’s next for Raff?

We are very excited to finally reach out to customers in Europe and are looking to expand our presence there. Currently I am working on designing small leather goods and a few designs for men to add to the range, which is very exciting.
Raff bags
 You can view the Raff collection here.  Raff is offering free shipping in the EU.  For those of you based in the Netherlands you can shop at nl.shopraff.com.  Customers outside the Netherlands can visit shopraff.com to place an order.

Thea Porter 70s Bohemian Chic Exhibition

Thea Porter Retrospective at the Fashion and Textile Museum

“Both fashion and interior decoration require that you take the most beautiful fabrics in the world and cover the body seductively”

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thea Porter (1927 – 2000)

 

Thea Porter was a painter, interior designer and fashion designer.  She was passionate about textiles and has been described as the pioneer of hippy chic in the 60s and 70s.  The first retrospective of her work, at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, gives a real insight into the designer, her life and her work, aided by her scrapbooks of letters, drawings and press clippings, which formed part of her unpublished memoir, Thea Porter’s Scrapbook.

Porter grew up in the Middle East in Jerusalem and Syria and her upbringing heavily influenced her interior and fashion designs.  After a period as an embassy wife in Beirut Thea moved to London in the mid 60s and  set up shop in Greek Street, Soho, selling furniture, homewares, textiles and clothing from Syria.  Visitors to the shop loved her textiles and asked her to make clothing and she  started designing menswear and then womenswear.  The abaya and the kaftan, both in luxurious fabrics, were two of Thea’s signature styles.

Her designs were snapped up by the jet set and Hollywood stars.  Liz Taylor and Barbara Streisand were both fans.  It is said that Barbara Streisand asked her to design a dress for every room in her Malibu home.  The Beatles purchased her interior accessories and Pink Floyd wore Thea’s clothes on the cover of their 1967 album the Piper Gates of Dawn.

Thea-Porter's-Mayfair-flat

A recreation of Thea’s Mayfair flat with Suzani covered floor cushions, peacock upholstery,one of Thea’s designs front right and just seen a gold trimmed abaya in the background.

Thea-Porter-70s-coat-from-Iraqi-carpet

One of Thea’s exotic coats displayed in a recreation of her Greek Street shop.  The coat is made from an Iraqi Samawa carpet cleverly cut to show the human figures and  animals typical of these carpets along the opening.

Thea-Porter-Menswear-Womenswear

Djellaba style tunic top from African batik and Chazara jackets featuring gold brocade and velvet.

Thea-Porter-dresses-in-Ikat-fabric

Left: One of Thea’s sketches with fabric she commissioned.  Right.  A gypsy style dress from Ikat fabric.

 

Thea Porter’s designs are now sought after collectors items and her legacy is clearly apparent in the 70s fashion revival today yet she isn’t as well-known as her contemporaries.  Her designs were popular amongst the rich and famous and were regularly featured in Vogue but she was a true creative and struggled with the business side of things, often consulting astrologers for business advice, so she didn’t have the financial success she deserved.  This carefully curated exhibition, featuring over 80 of her designs, her sketches and press clippings and a documentary on her life, gives her the recognition she deserves and is a must see for textile lovers.

You can see Thea Porter’s designs featured in Vogue photo shoots here.

To find out more about the exhibition, opening times, location etc. click here.

Global Style – Burberry Prorsum Menswear

 

Rabari-inspired-embroidery

 

The Burberry Prorsum menswear collection for autumn/winter 2015 – 2016, Classically Bohemian, is a feast for the eyes for global textile lovers.  Large rebozo style fringed cashmere shawls are thrown over sophisticated suits, kantha like quilted jackets are combined with suede and shearling outerwear and hand embroidered coats, jackets, shirts, scarves and bags sparkle with mirror-work embroidery reminiscent of indigenous embroidery from India and Pakistan. I love the  jewel-like colours palette, of ink, ochre, green, turquoise, purple, red, and fuchsia, the luxurious fabrics and the mix of influences in this collection.  Sadly it’s menswear but I would happily wear one of the beautiful scarves and a large olive green bag is on my wish list.

 

A few shots of the collection below:

 

Rebozo-style-shawl-Burberry-Prorsum

Large cashmere shawl with rebozo style fringing.

Kantha-like-scarf-Burberry-Prorsum

Quilting inspired by Durham quilts and similar to kantha quilting from India and Bangladesh.

mirrorwork-scarves-Burberry-Prorsum

Beautiful mirror-work scarves.

mirrorwork-jacket-Burberry-Prorsum

Mirror-work reminiscent of traditional embroidery from Gujarat, Rajasthan and Pakistan.

Burberry-Prorsum-mirror-work

Global style.

 

Watch the show and listen to soundtrack from talented British singer/songwriter Claire Maguire here.

Photos: Burberry Prorsum , Vogue.co.uk.