Feminine, daring and caring

Discover the ethical Beirut-based label helmed by childhood friends Tatiana Fayad and Joanne Hayek, who look to nature and art for inspiration.

What prompted you to start Vanina?

Vanina started spontaneously in 2007, as a hobby when we were in our first year of university. We were always fascinated by the art of creation, and were inspired to use fashion as a way to express ourselves and engage the community. Our first collection was a jewellery line called ‘coined’, which proposed to up-cycle the old and devalued Lebanese lira into unique pieces of handcrafted jewellery.

How have both of your backgrounds helped shape the brand?

We come from complementary backgrounds: Joanne studied architecture and Tatiana studied marketing. As the brand evolved, we each developed our skills further, which progressively helped shape the brand’s DNA. Tatiana trained in fashion design and developed research in vintage fashion, and Joanne studied sustainable design and digital fabrication. This allows us to approach fashion from a cross-disciplinary perspective, marrying tradition with innovation, handcraft with industry, waste with luxury, playfulness with responsibility.

 

 

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At what point did you decide to expand beyond jewellery?

Quite early on. A year after the launch of the first collection, we started to explore other product ranges. It felt natural. We explored bags, shoes, and apparel. With every new collection, our family of artisans grows and develops.

Where do you seek inspiration?

We get inspired by everything that surrounds us. Beirut itself is a great source of inspiration: its people, energy, art, history, traditions and crafts. For us fashion is a form of art that engages society. We work with a very eclectic palette of materials and a team of skilled artisans that keep on inspiring us and guiding our design process as well.

Talk us through the sustainable elements of the design process. And you also support local communities?

The Vanina products are all handcrafted in Lebanon, in our ateliers and affiliated workshops. We collaborate with local NGOs for our sourcing and manufacturing. We follow a closed-loop system of production, guaranteeing full product traceability and ethical processes. Through this, we aim to promote local community development through the valorisation of craftsmanship and environmental awareness.

A large part of our products are based on the reuse and transformation of discarded materials. with the aim of contributing to the implementation of better waste management systems in Lebanon, which suffers from alarming levels of pollution and solid waste issues.

We constantly invest in new material explorations, by merging cutting edge technologies with traditional techniques of production. Local, natural, or recycled materials are prioritised in order to reduce pollution and carbon emissions. We believe fashion and sustainability are not mutually exclusive, but synergical. And we believe there is a long way to go in that direction.

 

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Name three of your favourite places in Beirut?

Gemmayze Street, where our flagship is located. Gemmazeh has a beautiful soul. Dalieh is the unique rocky and green landscape on the coast of Beirut, cascading to the sea. Horsh Beirut, a forest and park in the midst of the city.

How would you describe Vanina in a sentence?

Vanina is a brand that inspires – we are feminine, playful, daring, caring, responsible, engaged, generous, sustainable and beautiful.

What were the biggest challenges of establishing Vanina?

Sustainability of the business as a social enterprise in an unstable economy. Since the very beginning of our brand, we were faced with the political and economic instability of our country. We’ve learned to become resilient, to stay agile, to adapt, and to constantly evolve and reinvent ourselves in response to society and the environment.

Another challenge that we embrace and helps us stay passionate is environmental sustainability in a fast paced industry.

 

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What’s next?

Further development of our local production, through new collaborations and new sustainable material works. International expansion through new stockists and new partnerships such as La Samaritaine in Paris, Browns in London, Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, Net-A-Porter exclusives through Net-Sustain, and on Farfetch for the online distribution of our bags, jewellery and apparel.

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