Creative Leaders: an Interview with Samantha-Jane Agbontaen of Fabryan

Posted December 16, 2014 at 11:45 am in Fashion, Features
  • two long raspberry red dresses Fabryan SS15 collection
    Two looks from Fabryan’s SS15 collection

FASHION is no easy road, particularly for emerging designers. Yet, with a distinct point of view and quality craftsmanship, there is perhaps a more natural path for talented designers to find their way. Case in point – self-taught designer Samantha-Jane Agbontaen, who launched her own brand, Fabryan, in 2010.

Samantha-Jane has rapidly made a name for herself creating minimalist but highly wearable pieces in combined fabrics, mainly leather and silks, in an evolving palette, sometimes bold, sometimes monochrome. The beauty of Fabryan is in its essential simplicity and embrace of the feminine silhouette, an approach that has rightly gained notice in publications ranging from Vogue to Tatler.

We recently sat down with Samantha-Jane to learn more about Fabryan and its latest collections.

You launched Fabryan in September 2010 with an aim to create a luxury womenswear line with ethical values. What was the inspiration behind Fabryan? Is there a meaning to the name?
Fabryan means little blacksmith in French. Its the feminine form of Fabron. The name is synonymous with someone who creates things. I wanted to create a womenswear brand that designed wearable items while showcasing high-end British tailoring.

How did you get your start in fashion?
I grew up around fashion. My mother was a dressmaker; when I was young, I used to use scraps of fabrics to make dresses for my dolls. I found it all fascinating but never took it up in my education or career choices until four years ago when I decided to embark on a new path. I wanted to merge a career and passion together – Fabryan was the result of that. Without experience was hard, I taught myself to sew and I am still learning everyday.

How important is sustainability to Fabryan? What are the challenges of being ecofriendly in fashion while still producing a high-end collection?
Sustainability is an important factor of Fabryan. There are of course challenges in being eco-friendly while being a luxury brand. For example, our signature is combining leather and silk. We source our leather in the UK and they are dyed with minimal chemicals but its not 100 per cent eco-friendly. However, we try to balance it. We source most of our fabrics and trims in the UK and we produce all our collections in the UK.

Who is the Fabryan customer? What does she value?
The “Fabryan” woman is elegant and modern; she is not afraid to stand out. She embraces her body, wearing clothes that accentuate her curves without being a fashion victim.

Building on this, the Fabryan aesthetic is concomitantly simple yet edgy. How do you work to bring innovation to fashion while still balancing the necessary element of wearability?
The aesthetics of Fabryan’s collections are always simplicity and elegance. Though some pieces embrace a modern, edgy twist. My collections are ready to wear and should always be wearable. I think that the woman should wear the dress not the dress wearing her. So it’s best to keep it simple and classy always.

The Fabryan SS2015 collection is bold and elegant with a touch of sportiness. Your colour palette, in particular, involves exuberant swaths of magenta, teal, and bright whites. You also have a range of highly versatile looks. What inspired this latest collection?
The inspiration behind the SS15 collection was modern art. I visited the exhibition of Henri Matisse at The Tate Modern. His famous paper cuts exploded with great colours that complimented very well. In the SS15, I tried to interpret my own version in the form of colour blocking. Which I think worked well with vibrant-coloured leather marrying crepe and silk fabrics.

What are plans for expanding Fabryan in the future? Any thoughts on menswear?
I hope that Fabryan grows with each collection. Recognised as a luxury brand with regular features in notable fashion press as well as gaining more stockists around the world.

What is the Fabryan approach to digital marketing and social media? Is social media important to you in building the brand and connecting with customers?
Certainly, social media and digital marketing is significant to my brand.We use these mediums to promote the brand and we reach out to new international customers as well as networking with industry insiders. When done right, its helpful to many businesses today.

by Jessica Quillin

Fabryan can be found on twitter

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