How did you two meet?
We met in Goa, through a mutual friend who knew we both loved fashion and lived in London. Our friendship started from that moment and looking back it feels like fate! We have so many similarities, we both studied at the London Institute of Art, lived on the same road in London, our birthdays are in the same week and we had both lived on canal boats before – the list went on. We chatted and chatted and chatted from the moment we met and very quickly became inseparable.
What led to the creation of FARA?
I feel like I should say our love of fashion, creativity and design, but actually it was our friendship.
I remember the exact night at the Saturday Night Market in Goa where we shared our little stall. Fumie on one side with her collection and me on the other with mine and we were talking design. 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, even though we saw each other every day, I wrote Fumie an email to ask if she officially wanted to start a business together, she wrote back saying “YES!”.
In the first years of FARA, both of us had babies, became single mothers and experienced a lot of stress and challenge in our lives. FARA was our refuge, a safe space where we came together to grow our dream.
What does FARA stand for?
Literally, FARA stands for “Fumie and Rachel’s adventures”. We created our first collection with ideas of travel, comfort and 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 on creating garments that are made to the highest standard while still being affordable. Our aims are to create and work in a fair fashion environment, from our tailors working under ethical conditions to our customers – we want everyone to be supported and to benefit.
What roles does each of you take on in the partnership?
Simply put, Fumie is the Creative Director and I am the Managing Director, at its heart though FARA is a collaborative vision and our roles are always transforming and growing. To begin with we both lived in Goa and we did everything together, it worked well as our gifts and talents support and balance each other.
We always vision the mood of the seasons, the direction and design the collections together. Nowadays Fumie is based in East London where our studio is and she works from here to bring the designs to life and to create all of our patterns and samples. Here in India, I handle production.
We work together on the direction and future of the business, to create mood boards, organise photoshoots and to direct sales. We also love to travel to Rajasthan and Varanasi together to source our fabrics and meet the artisans.
Who’s your favourite designer and why?
That’s almost an impossible question to answer as we appreciate so many designers and what they do. Fumie’s 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 instilled an essence of spiritual, Boheme and nature into the design. We both love to visit Bond Street when we are in London to sift through the collections.
How does the environment play a factor in your designs?
I am based in Goa most of the year and Fumie, in London. We are both so inspired by our environment and this is reflected in our designs. When we met we discovered three mutual things that were very important to the foundation of our design; we both loved art, we both loved to travel and we both loved beautiful clothes. Travelling 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 didn’t mean shoving a cheap scarf on our heads.
We wanted our collection to translate from the desert to the streets of London.
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 some of our designs, a luxuriously soft fabric which is one of the most environmentally sustainable fibres.
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 do you love about about running a label?
My favourite 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, it’s about sisterhood and collaboration and our trust in each other, our common understanding and respect for each other. We are not just running a label, we are living our dream.
What is the vision 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 is also to work more with the community around us and to collaborate with other creatives and we are always planning ways in which we can do that!
We have already grown in so many ways since we opened our first little store in Goa. We have loved every step and can’t wait to see what unfolds in the future.