Created for fashion-forward globetrotters, contemporary womenswear label BEDOUIN brings together comfort and style. Designer Andrea Farrag has an English-Egyptian background and spent several years living in New York and Bangladesh. Now splitting her time between London and Dubai, the designer channels her worldly experiences into travel-ready collections. BEDOUIN speaks to the globalisation of modern society and the increasing popularity of nomadic lifestyles.
Whether you're heading off on holiday or bouncing from one fashion week to the next, BEDOUIN has you covered. The brand offers modern silhouettes with subtle nods to the traditions and cultures of communities around the world while recognising the diversified faces of beauty. All of this is conducted in the pursuit of Style Without Borders. Farrag shares with SUITCASE her passion for fashion and travel, with some insider tips for the perfect day in Kerala.
Type of brand
Where can we find you?
The BEDOUIN woman is a contemporary, global woman with a love for travel, design and diversity. Always on the go, our customer is a spontaneous woman that seeks easy-to-wear, statement pieces that are flattering yet stand out from the crowd. Though she may be a minimalist, she gravitates towards items that celebrate culture and tradition - perhaps a reminder of her own travels. BEDOUIN hopes to boost inner confidence by helping her feel fabulous day and night, from London to Mexico and beyond.
What three words best describe how you want the BEDOUIN customer to feel in your designs?
Flattered, confident, spontaneous.
What does #STYLEWITHOUTBORDERS mean to you?
The hashtag is BEDOUIN's way of encouraging our women to feel confident and to be themselves no matter where they might be in the world. Our goal each season is to provide versatile, go-to pieces that make a statement. We celebrate beauty and traditions from around the globe and apply them to our contemporary lifestyles.
How does the environment impact your designs?
The environment plays a big part in the inspiration behind each collection. Every season embraces history, culture and landscapes, each reimagined within a contemporary, urban silhouette. A great example of this is our RISK TAKER parka, a traditional urban style coat created with a metallic brushstroke jacquard inspired by Japanese waterscapes and calligraphy.
When you travel, what inspires you most?
Travel is by far my favourite past time: I love to experience new places, new people and diverse cultures. I am most inspired by landscape, architecture and people. Traditional clothing, techniques and colour palettes also inspire me. Travel opens your mind to new possibilities - you never really know what you will be inspired by until you get there!
Can you explain the name of your brand?
The label's 'less is more' approach is shaped by nomadic Bedouin tribes, encouraging our #STYLEWITHOUTBORDERS ethos. Designed with the contemporary jet-setter in mind, each season draws inspiration from the environment, travel and tradition. Collections are stripped back, unfussy and timeless, designed to live beyond the season. High quality, crease-free fabrics mean that each item is designed to be worn day-to-night, in one way in the city and another beachside. A hybrid of masculine and feminine BEDOUIN designs everything from loose-fit silhouettes finished in silks to clean cuts with a fresh take on traditional embroidery.
How did you first become interested in Bedouin culture?
My father is Egyptian therefore we used to travel to Egypt a lot when I was young. A camping trip in the Sinai Peninsula desert first sparked my interest in the Bedouin culture. There we ate food prepared by Bedouin's and listened to their music - the memory stayed with me ever since. Growing up with a mixed background - my mother is English - in such a culturally diverse city as London, I have always faced a lot of contrast in my everyday life. I now this channel in my designs. Collections may be inspired by tradition but they are reworked to become something contemporary.
How would you describe Bedouin fashion and how do you incorporate these aesthetics into your designs?
Bedouins are desert dwellers who spend their lives travelling. They dress to protect themselves from harsh conditions. It's their continuous movement that inspires some of the key elements of BEDOUIN: freedom, confidence, comfort and independence. The label takes these ideals and interprets them in the context of the contemporary world, providing a fresh take on history and culture.
Your designs are not based solely on Bedouin fashion, but also reflect your own travels. How do you incorporate new influences, but keep the roots of Bedouin style?
Each season is catalysed by a different culture, environment or destination combined with contemporary design and luxurious fabrics. Our upcoming AW16 collection draws inspiration from Japanese culture, combining traditional geometric patterns and architecture with urban street style. Representing the mountainous landscapes and the distinctive cultural dress of Japan, topstitching, flared sleeves, waved embroidery and brushstrokes feature throughout BEDOUIN AW16. No matter what destination I am inspired by, each collection remains adaptable and easy-to-wear, giving our customer room to interpret the pieces for oneself.
Tell us about your time living in Bangalore.
I spent several months living in Bangalore,
working with an embroidery facility that produced for the likes of DVF. It was one of the most incredible experiences and eventually led to the birth of BEDOUIN. India is an inspiring but very hectic place so while living there I got some much needed down time through regular visits to Kerala.
Best time to visit?
Early June - right before the monsoon season kicks in. You may see some rain during this time but it's really quite beautiful. This cooler climate is also an ideal time for the Ayurvedic treatments that Kerala is famous for.
What to do with 24 hours in Kerala…
Head to Fort Kochi and book into Malabar House, a boutique hotel within walking distance of the impressive Chinese fishing nets. Unlike many areas of India, Kochi has a strong French influence and takes a minimalistic, undone approach to interiors - I highly recommend meandering around the narrow streets and poking your head into the small churches. Head to Teapot for a light lunch and tour the backwaters. Though there are a few different areas to explore, expect a peaceful day, full of beautiful scenery and a window into local customs.
Spend the late afternoon unwinding with an Ayurvedic massage before heading to Dal Roti for dinner. The friendly, knowledgeable owner will greet you at your table while you enjoy north Indian dishes and several selections of thali. I fell for this place because of its minimalist charm with white walls, smattering of tradition, large wooden tables and infectious community spirit.
Three places on your travel bucket list?
Describe the differences in the fashion scene in New York, London and Dubai.
New York and London are fashion capitals, a melting pot for emerging talent and household names. Both cities are rich in diverse cultures, the varied neighbourhoods, music scenes and inspiring antecedents have made their fashion scenes creative and forward-thinking. Dubai, by contrast, has only existed since 1971. Although its traditional Bedouin culture exists, the history of the city isn't as apparent as London and New York. The women of Dubai love to be glamorous and aren't afraid to be feminine while in London and New York they tend to be more understated. I try to envision how women from all over the world would wear BEDOUIN as it allows me to provide something for everyone.
Where do you think the most innovation in fashion is occurring?
It's hard to say! I did my degree at Central Saint Martins (CSM), London and met so many talented, creative and innovative designers during my time there. Although a tough and competitive environment, CSM is an amazingly inspirational place that teaches you to be determined, creative and your own worst critic. Without that, the world of fashion world be impossible for me!