Today we are joined for Morning Coffee by fashion designer Zaid Farouki. Farouki set up is own named fashion brand in the UAE after receiving a degree in Fashion Design in Italy. Farouki moved to London and attended Central Saint Martins College, specialising in couture techniques and embroidery as well as hand painting. These skills can be seen in his designs today, which often feature hand painted drawings and designs. Here we discuss with Farouki his brand and his outlook on life over a cup of coffee.
Describe your morning routine.
My favourite and most productive way of starting my day is actually waking up around 5am. I actually have a gym class at 7am, so 7-8am working out, the from there off to the office. I’ll be in the office before 9am. I guess until how much work I have during the day and if I’m lucky I get to catch up with my friends and then I’m usually in bed before 10pm.
Tell us why you decided to become a fashion designer.
It hasn’t been the smoothest of journeys. I started by always wanting to be a fashion designer, but coming from a Middle Eastern background my parents weren’t fully on board while I was applying to college and I wanted a degree in fashion. So we agreed on the fact that I would go and major in Business Administration and Marketing and I minored in art to keep the creativity flowing. Then after completion I moved to Italy, got a second degree in Fashion Design, then I moved to London and did courses in fabric painting, couture embroidery and couture stitching. Then I moved to Dubai and launched my own brand. And that’s what the journey has been over the three years.
Describe your creative process.
I really feed off the energy that I’m surrounded by in the city that I’m living in at that point. The different social interactions I have with people. I’m really inspired by my background, my family’s background and the region as well. So, it’s this kind of thing that I have this idea and I leave it to ferment in the my head for like months. I might not even think about or sketch about it but it’s right there, it’s turning into that bigger image in the back of my head. Then it can take me about a week and I’ll be completely done with the vision, and the sketches and the mood board so I really leave it for quite a while until it becomes a reality.
How would you summarise your brand in one sentence?
I think I can summarise it down to one word and call it ‘creative’. We don’t abide by seasons, we don’t abide by collections, we have these themes and we just launch. It’s more works of art or installations or as a presentation in the art gallery and you have this theme presented all at once.
Are there brands that inspire you?
The thing is there’s a really fine balance between inspiration and copying, because that’s something we do not do whatsoever. For inspiration we can go through many brands whether the brands are still alive and functioning, or brands that have managed to close down in history. We are inspired by the history, by the feeling, the cut, the branding everything of that sort. So I don’t look at it just as cuts and what goes on the runway, I’m really inspired by the journeys of those designers. When we say ‘we’ it’s my team and I. I’m the sole designer and painter, but then we have a team that brings my ideas to life and a marketing manager.
What is your take on the design scene in the Middle East?
What happened is that we moved to the Middle East because we wanted to be part of that growing talent base and talent pool that’s available. We have examples of Middle Eastern designers who have made it big, specifically right now couture week is happening and it is flooded by Arab designers. So, we look at it and I see there’s so much potential and there is a lot to say about this region. Also, because I believe we are one of the major markets of fashion in the world statistically, and I think we needed a voice from within us to come out – people from the region – and be like this is us, this is what we create and it’s creating that community all together.
What’s is the motto you live by professionally?
I don’t know if it’s a motto, but I always have this thing in the back of my head, it might be a bit dark, but I always say ‘would I actually regret it on my death bed?’ That’s the whole idea. But afterwards I just go ahead with it.
What do you consider your biggest career success to date?
More than a career success, I think the journey for me is very personal for me as well. Because my career is me, and I am the brand, and this relationship between all of us its watered down, you no longer distinguish yourself. And I think my growth. If I were to focus on one key success then I’d maybe take a break and go on a vacation, but I don’t want to do that. Actually seeing my growth day by day, month by month, year by year so that I think is major success for me.
What has been the biggest challenge?
I think the biggest challenge is, as I mentioned before, I’m the brand, I’m there creative behind it yet I am what my personal growth relies on, the brand relies on it. So I think the biggest challenge is in a weird way protecting myself, looking at constant growth and trying to grow internally and personally every single day, career wise, and my personal life because I give myself that measure. I think, waking up every day ready for a new day, ready to put myself into that positive mental situation and pushing away negative thoughts on to the side, either that or I’m just not going to be creative for that day, or a week or even month.
Who would you say is your professional mentor?
I’m lucky to be mentored by Mr Hosein who is actually a major player in the Middle Eastern industry. He is currently CEO of Net-A-Porter Middle East, it has been a pleasure being mentored by him.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Trust your instinct.
Complete this sentence: I’m happy when…
I am the most creative.
Describe your personal style.
Bold with a bit of cultural heritage and there’s no limitation in a way that ‘why would you limit yourself to a certain aspect or a certain idea?’ At the end of the day its like dressing up or having a costume. You got to play it out, dress up to your personality, just be you. Let it come out.
What do you say ‘no’ to?
Copying other people’s work. I’ve had certain people come in and be like ‘we really love this dress by that certain and designer’ and it comes to a point like ‘I’m sorry I can’t recreate it for you’.
What book are you reading at the moment?
On my nightstand there are three books. One is about old Middle Eastern politics in Arabic, and then I have a Harvard Business Review about sales and marketing and then there is another a book which is The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.
How do you want the world to remember you?
At the end of day, I guess I just want to inspire future generations, specifically the younger generation from our region to go after what they truly want. Remember me for what I do, it’s a life lived and everything I will produce or have produced within, it’s just preserving what I can be remembered for.