Alia Zaki, Lebanese designer and founder of l’alingi on serving up some serious accessories game and pushing the boundaries of conventional style.
What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?
As soon as I wake up, I switch off airplane mode to check for notifications and any news updates, a habit I would like to change. I use the PCA face wash as a gentle cleansing oil and head to get my kids ready for school and I usually walk to school to get my morning steps in.
What inspired you to launch L’alingi?
I have always wanted to become a fashion designer ever since I was a little girl, however, I actually did not study fashion. After working in advertising and moving to London for my marriage, I felt stuck and unable to obtain a job in fashion due to the lack of relevant experience. That motivated me to bring my sketches to life, which I have been gathering over the years, as I really felt the urge to express emotions and ideas into a creative realm of evening/ party handbags that would stand out and strike a conversation.
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Who is the L’alingi woman?
As much as L’alingi aspires to appeal to a wide range of people, I would say the L’alingi woman wants something different and likes to stand out. She is strong, feminine and expresses herself through fashion. She appreciates art and beauty and is okay with the unconventional. She chooses individuality over practicality.
Can you talk us through how you approach the creative process?
My first collection was very much inspired by my trip to Japan where I played on the idea of combining sweets and food with glitter resin clutch bags, adding the element of fun to a serious/classical evening bag. The following collections were gradually breaking away from the classic rectangular shape into more unconventional silhouettes, coming limitless beyond the ‘practical’ handbag. In 2019 I designed the iconic Eternity Clutch, inspired by my engagement ring. Since then, jewellery has been one of the biggest inspirations behind the designs that led to the creation of other bestselling styles such as the Taliya Clutch, Taliya Feather Pouch and Love Clutch. If you hear the word “handbag” you immediately think leather. We try to explore mixing various materials such as brass, crystals, resin, embroideries which enable exciting outcomes and the unexpected. We want to offer enough newness each season while preserving our classic staples, keeping the brand exciting yet timeless.
Each piece is crafted to the highest caliber – how do you ensure quality is maintained for every design?
We have tried out a handful of factories and faced some obstacles in the process of quality perfection, as our bags are quite specific in materials and in how delicate they can be. We source our materials for the factories from some of the best suppliers in Italy and Europe. We also test our bags by dropping sample bags on the floor and scratching their surfaces to really ensure their durability. Stones are carefully glued to ensure safety upon wear and tear.
What’s some of the most important business advice that you have ever received?
As an individual with no business experience, I really tried to absorb any advice I would get and there was a lot to learn. I would say the most valuable advice is be patient; it takes two years to understand the industry and five years to see results. Be smart with the spending as brands like ours had to endure the covid and lock down era, so being mostly online based and not having high rents and overheads at the time was to our advantage. A healthy and steady growth to me seems more valuable than an overnight hype that could die down just as quick.
The brand focuses on sustainability at its core – how has this been incorporated in various pieces?
We carefully source our materials to ensure they meet our high-quality ethical standards and align with our pledge to environmental responsibility. Although some of our bags are already 100 percent vegan, we continue to search for more sustainable, environmentally conscious and animal-friendly materials. During factory production, we do our best to ensure that all materials used including fabrics and metal components do not go to waste. Unused metal components are melted down and reused through the process of electrolysis in a galvanic plant. 10,000 litres of water used in the galvanic plant are recycled every day through special filters. The filtering process allows the polluted water to be cleaned and reused for up to 4 months.
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What are the brand’s key party pieces that are your personal favourite?
My favourite classic and formal clutch would be the Taliya eternity. I like the intricate details on the handle. For a more casual dinner out I love wearing the micro eternity as a cross body compact bag, it is so light and effortless. As for a day to night bag I always go for the feather pouch.
How do you embrace dressing every party season – what are your top tips?
For me the three elements of party dressing include either crystals, glitter or feathers. I don’t like to overdo it with sparkle, otherwise it could take away from outfit. But I do think it is important to embrace the right amount of the “unexpected” and I usually go for a statement bag or shoe to pair the outfit.
What lies ahead for the future of the brand?
Seeing the immense demand for our matching earrings has opened possibilities of exploring the jewellery category as well as other accessories such as sunglasses. I have always been passionate about home accessories as well, who knows!
This is ‘The Winter Escape Issue’ – where are you travelling to this season?
We really enjoy Christmas in London usually, but this year we will be soaking in some winter sun in Thailand and the UAE with friends and family.
December – The Winter Escape Issue with Rolls Royce – Download Now
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