After unavailingly searching for a stylish, yet practical jacket back in 2015, Omar Afridi, founder and creative director of León Bara, decided to establish a new company to close a gap in the market.
Contemporary tailoring with an athletic edge and minimal design, functional fabrics on casual clothing as well as affordable prices are the core concepts of the new London-based menswear brand. While each garment is produced close to London, Afridi only works with factories providing European standards of hygiene and safety conditions.
Tell us about León Bara. Who is the team behind it? Why and when was it founded?
One weekend, after spending a frustrated week looking for a jacket that was stylish, modern and practical–and finding nothing, I decided that I could make a better garment in this category than anything presently on the market. And so I decided in 2015 to establish a new enterprise, to which I gave the name León Bara.
I am the principle shareholder and creative director and I have a small team of two assistants.
What was your aim and background when you started your own business?
My background is in marketing. I worked for many years in Canada and originally came to England to pursue marketing. I have always been interested in Art Deco, and the simplicity and purposefulness of the designers who contributed to that movement. A later interest was the discovery of the versatility of contemporary technical fabrics. I combined these two influences in my designs for the León Bara first season, which was such a success with Japanese buyers at the Paris fashion week in January 2016.
Tell us about the design process. What sources inspire you for your designs?
I enjoy people watching. I sit at a cafe table. I watch the people go by and I am saying to myself, “He shouldn’t be wearing that. It is too fussy. It is too bright. If I were designing that jacket….” I let my mind go on a journey, let it create stories and characters that help with the image, shape and form.
How important is sustainability for you? What are your ideals and values when it comes to production?
A León Bara garment is distinguished not only by its elegance but by its durability. León Bara garments are well constructed and use fabrics with a long life. The factories I use comply with European standards of hygiene and safety conditions. For the future, it is a fundamental policy of the company to support all steps towards a sustainable world.
Which consumer do you have in mind for your garments?
I am presently producing only menswear, but many of my garments can be and have been bought by female customers. In the future, I plan to expand my range to include specifically unisex garments. The typical customer I envisage is age 25 to 65, is well travelled and well educated.
What is your favorite piece of the current collection?
The station jacket from a/w ’18. This is a contemporary tailored jacket suitable for work, eveningwear or a black tie dress code. It can be worn with the matching station trousers as a full suit, or paired with smart trousers – grey flannels work particularly well. A collar and tie will enhance the jacket’s formality, while a crew neck sweater or T-shirt will result in a more casual look. The jacket fastens at the front with an adjustable Cobra buckle, allowing the waist to be cinched for a more fitted look.
If you could work with anyone in the industry who would it be?
Maison Margiela–I admire the innovation.