Posted on February 17 2018
Kyubu Admiration Society loves…
Brand: Aiki District
Behind the Brand: Maneli Nourbakhsh & Anahita Faghih
Aiki District’s vision is an uncomplicated one: to create well crafted, comfortable, quality wear that inspire and cover every part of a diary. Looking impeccably stylish as you step seamlessly from sneakers to stilettos? Yes, please!
Vancouver-based fashion forces Maneli and Ana became fast friends, bonded by a mutual love of style, travel and great design. That they formed a label together was inevitable; their brand evidence of what a successful pairing looks like, both on and off the runway.
KM settles in to talk fashion and friendship (oh, and running an internationally recognized label...see their shout-out in British Vogue!) with the design duo with a penchant for finishing each others’ sentences.
KM: Tell us about your path to Aiki District.
AF: My childhood was spent sewing, braiding, painting with pastels and making clothes for my dolls. I then went through a stage when I wasn’t really into art; I took agriculture in university and my time was spent training on the national badminton team in Iran. As it turned out, my love of art and sewing returned and I was determined to learn how to sew proficiently. Years of training led to opening a showroom for wedding and evening gowns in Iran, landing in fashion school in Vancouver and starting Aiki District with Maneli.
MN: I started illustrating at 3 and used to draw rows and rows of girls in dresses. When I got to university, art seemed too abstract and I ended up with a double major in sociology and political science, learning a ton of analytical skills. I completely forgot about fashion until a trip to Europe reignited the spark in me. Now in London, I moved up from an internship at Alexander McQueen to print design. Then came teaching at fashion school in Vancouver and then the role as fashion director. Fashion was a way to bring out creativity but still use analytical skills to build a business.
KM: How did Aiki District come to be?
MN: I had wanted to start label for longest time; attempted with a lot of people but it was very stagnant until I met Ana. We build on each other’s ideas really well and design everything together. All decisions are made together; we each have and idea and the other adds to it. Oftentimes we’ll each individually will have an idea and it will be the same idea!
AF: We were friends at first site. Maneli was my teacher at fashion school. I was hired after graduation as an instructor of garment constructing and pattern drafting. I made a bustier from glass; maneli used for photoshoot. We’re so close. We take each others’ criticisms and we improve each other. We really do bring the best out of each other.
KM: Describe Aiki District.
AF: Both of us are very much into meditation, mental health and positive energy. We knew the vibe and meaning we wanted: unity, bringing people together and positive energy. We came up with Aiki, a Japanese word meaning the coming together of soul in unity and harmony with nature. The name goes with our clothes – minimal, simple, straight lines, light. It sounds like how the clothes look.
MN: Our initial focus for Aiki District came out of a genuine need to have clothing that look good when we were both traveling a lot for love. We found ourselves constantly asking: What can I wear that looks good but travels well? We needed versatile clothing that looked great for various occasions and was comfortable to could make it from day to night just by changing our shoes. We were having had a hard time finding the right design/function balance led to creating our collection.
We provide a solution to that unnecessary feeling of wearing uncomfortable clothes or wearing functional clothes that hide who you truly are. It's simply a design/function balance. We focus on natural blends of fibres that won't wrinkle easily. We don't want to compromise style for comfort or vice versa.
KM: What’s next for Aiki District?
MN: We’d eventually like to get into menswear. We’re always thinking about how to become more sustainable; we’d like to make sure we’re not wasting for the sake of creating.
KM: What are you passionate about?
AF: Travel. And thinking up new million-dollar ideas.
MN: Architecture, home décor, painting, travelling and family, not necessarily in that order.
KM: What would you be doing if you weren’t a designer?
AF: I think I would make a pretty good event planner.
MN: Definitely a painter.
KM: Favourite artist? Brand? Why?
AF: Hussein Chalayan’s designs go further than just the clothes themselves; his pieces are creative and technologically innovative yet functional.
MN: Maison Margiela has always been such an influencer for all other brands with its innovative and unique approach to design.
Aiki items available at Kyubu Market events and through custom order - e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire!