Interview with T-Bags Designer Shadi Askari-Farhat

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It’s no secret that the vibrant printed pieces from T-Bags Los Angeles are exactly what woman around the globe want to wear – the brand is an A-list celebrity favorite and is carried on top online stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Revolve Clothing, and Shopbop. As we browsed T-Bags Los Angeles on StyleSpotter, we wanted to know more about this LA fashion staple. We were lucky enough to sit down with the designer Shadi Askari-Farhat and tour the multi-colored dreamland that is her LA studio warehouse. What we didn’t realize about the brand is that Askari-Farhat is a busy mom who expertly designs her line to be extremely versatile and easy to wear – making it a true lifesaver for any overloaded woman. She primarily uses fabrics that don’t wrinkle, incorporates hardware into necklines so jewelry isn’t needed, and designs dresses that can be dressed up or down depending on your footwear of choice. Read on to learn how this contemporary line all began, and where it’s going next.

desk and mood board

Your bio says you first started out in the industry by hand sewing handbags before going into ready-to-wear. What is the background story on how fashion departments like Barney’s Japan and Fred Segal discovered you? 

“I did my undergrad in Boston and my plan was to then go to law school and my father was very strict and wanted me to become a lawyer. But, when I came home I literally cried and pleaded with him, “please don’t make me do this.” So he told me, “you have 1 week to figure out what you want to do.” So, I chose to go to FIDM to do the 1 year program and got myself a sewing machine and I would go out and get materials and started making hand hand sewing my own handbags. This was back when designer labeled handbags were really in like the Gucci and Prada ones. I was actually getting more compliments on my own handbags I was making rather than my designer ones everyone was wearing. So, one day I walked into a showroom that ended up being my own showroom, to visit my friend who was working there and their rep who was there (who ended up being my rep) loved my handbags and asked if I wanted to go with her and take them to market week. I was like what’s market week? So overnight I stayed up sewing handbags and all of these stores came up to me wanting to buy from me, and people started writing about me, and that’s how T-bags happened.”

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An alleyway in the Mediterranean.

Your designs always include amazing prints and textiles. What was the inspiration behind your fall 2014 collection?

“My inspiration is anything, it’s travels, people on the street, movies, music. I love color and I design my own prints, it’s everywhere and everything. I am especially inspired by Greece, Turkey, and the Mediterranean.”

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Fall 2014 Lookbook

We especially love the long-sleeved maxi dress. Which pieces are your favorite and how would you style them?

“I don’t have specific favorites I really love them all, it just depends on what you’re feeling that day and how you want to wear it. There are darker colors, and brights, I honest to God love all the pieces, so it just depends. You ask yourself, do you want to show more of your back or do you want it shorter or longer? I love all of them. The basic T-bags standing is that it’s flip-flops to heels, it’s beach to bar, day to night, year round. It’s super easy to put it in your suitcase for traveling because it doesn’t wrinkle. I’ve worn the same dress with flats to the pool and the beach and the same dress with heels to a wedding. It’s super versatile it just depends what you accessorize it with.”

kids desk and kids outfit

The kid’s corner at her studio and T-Bags Los Angeles kids.

How do you think your designs have evolved after starting a family and becoming a mom?

“I definitely introduced the kids line once I had kids. It’s like mommy and me, it’s the idea of having your own “mini me.” I would be getting ready to go somewhere and my daughters wanted to wear the same dress but a mini version. So it can be bought in the same print, and really have the same feel. They truly inspire me every day. They love coming here because it’s so colorful and they draw pictures and I put them all over the walls. It’s really cute, it’s fun.”

Designing and running your own fashion company is a lot of work. How are you able to maintain a balance between work and family?

“When you’re at work it’s work and when you come home it’s home. That’s the only way to survive. You don’t let one consume the other. But obviously when I put the girls to bed I usually check my emails just because there’s so much going on and especially with international sales with the time difference. But, the main thing to keep in mind is that when you’re at home you just have to shut off your work.”

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Heidi Klum, Alessandra Ambrosio, Frida Pinto, and Sarah Jessica Parker wearing T-Bags Los Angeles

Your designs are worn by fashion favorites like Heidi Klum and Sarah Jessica Parker. What has been the most exciting star moment for T-bags?

“It’s honestly all of them! Whether it’s a super model or an actress, blogger or a celebrity you’re just so honored that they’re wearing it and that they love it. Everytime I see it I’m always like, “Oh my gosh so cool!” I still get giddy. You just think about how there are so many lines for them to choose from, to go out and buy, and to wear, and when they do wear yours it’s a huge honor.”

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Sneak peek of SS15

What exciting new things can we expect to see from T-bags Los Angeles?

“I’m always punching the line with different things, the girls line now will always be a constant as well as the T-bags pillows. The next thing I think I want to do is bring the handbags back. But, it’s really inspired by my travels and the mood that I’m in, in that moment. It’s just little punches here and there, it’s usually not an entire collection or a constant collection. All of our production is done here so it’s really amazing because I get to be on top of it and I’m able to have quality control. It’s nice to physically be here, it’s very hands-on and I like to micromanage everything whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.”

You probably have an amazing closet at home. What one piece could you not live without?

“That’s hard because I love everything! Everything is so sentimental to me and there are so many different things. Whether it’s jewelry from the Turkish bazaar, or really anything. I don’t know, I love it all, I would just have it all!”

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Kasha Cabato

Kasha Cabato is a fashion industry professional who specializes in marketing and social media. She is a graduate of Parsons The New School for Design and lives in Los Angeles, CA.

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