Raw edges and exposed topstitching reflect a level of resourcefulness that features throughout Naza Yousefi’s first physical ready-to-wear presentation. The Iranian-born designer grew up surrounded by conflict during the 1990-1991 Gulf war in her home country, and spent her childhood taking inspiration from all that surrounded her. That led to an education at Central Saint Martins, from where she launched Yuzefi back in 2015. But it was in 2020 when her dinky sculptural handbags, made for nights out on the town, truly captured our locked-down imaginations (and Instagram feeds).

At the time, the brand solely specialised in leather goods but it made its first proper venture in ready-to-wear for Autumn/Winter 2023. Alongside her new language of womenswear, with figure-hugging silhouettes and oversized tailoring rendered in neutral tones, bubblegum pink and denim, the designer presented an array of signature sculptural minibags and cute bow-embroidered court shoes – and it is fair to say we want every piece!

Because caught up with Naza to find out more…

Tell us a bit more about your journey into fashion and accessories design…
Growing up, everything I ever did was about using craft and trying to create something out of nothing. I've experimented with a little bit of everything from weaving and knitting to sculpture. So, the process of creation in general is what actually brought me to designing.

My love affair with leather began when I was looking at the material with a very untrained eye and just kind of seeing all of these different possibilities. The bags that I created at the beginning were bolted together – pieced together like a puzzle almost. There was a lot of hardware, I liked the idea of craft also being modern and industrial. I wanted to really highlight the endless possibilities of working with leather and that's where Yuzefi really started.

The recent venture into ready-to-wear is really just about creating a fully formed universe that customers can interact with and feel that they're a part of – something that is growing and expanding and says something new without turning its back on where it has come from.

What’s the first thing you think about when designing new pieces?
I tend to work in a very non-seasonal way. When we create a product, it's a product that is going to somehow be a part of the collection for a really long time – it evolves and it changes or it returns in a new colourway season after season. This is the first thing I consider when making something new.

How do you factor sustainability into your collections?
We use LWG Gold Certified leather, but I think with this industry in general, sustainability is a bit of a tricky word. I almost try to avoid using it because, you know, if you're in the business of selling products, you cannot call yourself sustainable. There is no necessity for what we sell. So I think just being conscious of your processes and trying to make them as least impactful as possible, is really the only way to go about doing things.

We try to make sure that we do this with our leather, we make sure that it's sourced properly, we make sure that everything is certified, and we make sure that all the processes of dyeing and tanning are done in the most considered way. And we work with very reputable suppliers, who take accountability for their supply chain.

Who do you see wearing your clothes?
I look to a lot of my creative, entrepreneurial, female friends for inspiration and I try to design for them. We have such a broad customer base worldwide, and my designs resonate globally, with a lot of women. But I think there is definitely a tone of voice and handwriting that is suited to the modern woman. Someone who probably has a strong sense of who she is as a person and doesn't want to be wearing something that everybody else is wearing. She goes out of her way searching for something that is going to fit with her own unique style. I suppose, our more intellectual and considered approach resonates with a very specific customer.

What exciting things do you have coming up?
We are very much about expanding the product range. The first collection was very cohesive, focused and edited as I wanted the messaging to be very clear. But I think for the next collection we are working on a much bigger range with a lot more offerings, think knitwear and more experimentation with bag materials – it's all super exciting! The aesthetic and ready-to-wear direction has been received really well. So, it's creating this very solid and exciting foundation for us to build on in the future.

You can shop the brand at yuzefi.com and farfetch.com...

By Augustine Hammond