I sat down with the gorgeous Bahraini handbag and accessory designer Sofia Al Asfoor. She considers herself a leather specialist but foremost a designer. We’re totally obsessed with her “Shield” handbag line! It’s fierce, it’s powerful, and it’s super chic. All in all, it’s a damn right gorgeous collection. I had the pleasure of interviewing Sofia and getting a sneak peek into the design process of her successful line. We can’t wait to get our hands on our own Sofia Al Asfoor creation!
What inspired you to start your own handbag line?
I have always had an interest in fashion and accessories. After exploring many areas in art and design, during my year at the London college of fashion attending Cordwainers fashion accessories I had never felt so strongly about my work. I was eating, dreaming and living my work. It gave me so much passion and commitment that I knew that I wanted to return to the region to pursue my career in leather goods, seeing as the gulf had so much potential.
I’m a big fan of your work and I think your handbags are some serious statement pieces. How did the “shield” design come about? And what materials do you use?
I started working on my project in 2008 at university. After exploring ideas and practical experimentation work for half the year I came up with the concept and continued working on it ever since. I was told by my tutors that what I had envisioned was not something that was possible and was told to move on, I had the determination to prove them wrong. There is a lot of technical work and precision in detail that goes in to the pieces, creating art out of leather, and using various of moulding techniques to achieve it. The bags are meant to be bold and strong, making a statement of individualism with its quality in manufacturing and premium use of materials; they express the prestige status of today’s empowered woman. A Shield of protection in today’s world representing all aspects of mind body and soul. The bags are only made with the finest hand selected leathers from Europe. The Classic Shield is made Calf leather lined with lamb skin. I have worked with tanneries on creating a unique “blue” processed exclusively for my collections, and that blue is the statement colour of the brand.
The bespoke Exotic Shield is exclusively tailored to the customers requirements, ordering the skins from the highest outsourced tanneries around the world then crafted individually in Spain. Each piece is a unique creation requiring over 52 hours of craftsmanship by the artisans of Europe.
Who are some of the designers that you admire in the industry?
My father is my idol, founder of Designer Shaik I have grown watching him become who he is, he is my inspiration.
We follow you on Instagram, and we think you’re extremely stylish! How would you describe your own personal style?
(Blushing) I hope I can inspire people to be who they are. I would say my style Is forward with appreciation for the past. I like to channel what most would describe as “edgy” but for me it represents originality. I suppose thats why I love vintage and heritage too.
Where do you see your brand in 10 years time and what is your vision for it?
To grow into a fashion house showing what Bahrain has to offer to the rest of the gulf and beyond. I can fly head over heels with the amount of things I want to be creatIng but all will happen in time.
How do you spend your time when you’re not busy sketching and designing?
I am a big fan of exercise and yoga. I like to balance the rest of myself when I’m not in my own bubble. My work is my world, I handle every area there is, so there’s never usually much time for much else.
Where are Sofia Al Asfoor bags available for purchase?
Saks fifth avenue Dubai, Bahrain and Al Othman Kuwait.
What are you listening to on your iPod at the moment?
I love house and RnB oldies. I’m a bit random when it comes to music.
What is your favourite city and why?
New York. I can spend days on end exploring the place, being a day dreamer. Inspiration is all around me.