Founder and Creative Director Reyhan Sofraci Talks About the Business and Creative Process of Aqua Di Lara™By Kaylene Peoples | August 17th, 2012 | Category: Articles, Interviews and Reviews, Fashion | No Comments »
“I am inspired by everything. From architecture, to lingerie, shoes, to jewelry,” states swimsuit designer Reyhan Sofraci.
Based upon the above quote, it’s no wonder when looking at the Aqua Di Lara™ line one can see the many influences. In 2007, Reyhan Sofraci was honored with the award “Fashion Designer of the Year” by Institut de Design Montréal. This award-winner designer recently showed her newest collection at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Miami Swim 2013. Hers was an elite collection of detailed and focused designs. Her show was seamless and high in quality. As the founder and creative director of Aqua Di Lara™, Reyhan Sofraci bears many responsibilities, and Agenda Magazine wanted to learn more about the multiple hats she wears in her company; and how she comes up with those great swimsuit collections every year.
Questions by Kaylene Peoples (Bold)
Responses by Sofraci Reyhan
After reading the description of your line, I really wanted to hear more about this Canadian line that uses ateliers and couture quality materials. Please tell me more about the Aqua Di Lara™ swimsuit line.
We launched our first collection in 2006 with the belief in quality, functionality, fit, and style. We wanted to bring a brand into the market that understood the needs of women when it comes to the business of swimwear. We wanted to keep the product made in North America and wanted to employ artisans in the field who also appreciate the value of couture, quality, and creativity. We researched and worked with fabric connoisseurs to ensure we used the fabrics with the most innovative properties that catered to our customers’ lifestyle. Every year we produce suits that provide a look that is new to the business of swim. We try to be creative and introduce styles that are new to the business and set new trends in the market.
” . . . one morning I woke up and realized how much I believed in the importance of following your passions and doing what you love and I changed gears. Though I knew there were to be plenty of challenges, I decided I was ready to face them to pursue my dream, so I jumped right in.”
How long have you been the creative director for the line? Please elaborate on your experience and what ultimately led you into this position with Aqua Di Lara, and becoming a swimsuit designer?
I actually started the company myself as I felt that there was a hole in the market that needed to be catered to. Having a more curvaceous physique and appreciating style and functionality, I started creating my own pieces to wear during my school years. I had a lot of encouragement from friends and family to pursue this and make it into a career. I guess I was a late bloomer when it came to finally moving forward with this passion as I studied Cognitive Psychology in university and never believed that fashion was ever an option. I came from a family that only saw it as being a hobby and not a profession, so my brain was not geared to think that way. However, one morning I woke up and realized how much I believed in the importance of following your passions and doing what you love and I changed gears. Though I knew there were to be plenty of challenges, I decided I was ready to face them to pursue my dream, so jumped right in.
I am inspired by everything. From architecture, to lingerie, shoes, to jewelry. This is one of the questions I dread the most! Lol, in all honesty, we do have themes that resonate in our collection; however, it is always hard to pinpoint exactly what led us this way. I am an adamant traveler and am very eclectic in my interests and lifestyle. This can be seen in all that we create. This year we introduced our white label collection to cater to the feminine and beautiful elements we love and kept The Black Label collection that is comprised of bold and graphic pieces that we love to produce. The White label can be summarized as being an escape to Eden with beautiful lush colors and prints and The Black Label as the Ethereal Goddess with strong bold colors and blocked designs.
You showed at Miami Swim last month July 2012. How was that experience and how do you feel the line was received?
It is always a very stressful but amazing experience to be showing in Miami. It has been 4 years now showing there and it has been great. Each year it becomes more and more natural and amazing to see all the familiar faces. This year we were doubled in RSVPs compared to the space so we were quite panicked about how we were going to accommodate everybody, but at the end it worked out mostly okay.
What would you say sets you apart from other swimsuit designers?
We try to create novel looks every year. Most just repeat the same styles over and over in different fabric options. Do not get me wrong, we have our best sellers that we repeat as well; however, we always aim to be innovative and to set new trends in the market instead of following them. We let our creative juices flow and just go with it. That is what I love about the business; like all things in life, it is in fact cyclical. But by creating things outside the box, it makes life more exciting.
Another thing we really care about is the construction, quality, functionality, and fit of our designs. We don’t only want to be different but we want to ensure that there is use to our suits. A lot of brands in our competitive set make their suits as not to touch water! Defeats the whole motto we have of the importance of functionality, quality, fit, and style!
“Meeting people is also always a huge part I love and always honor. The world is so large but being in the world of fashion makes it just a little smaller and creates a family—I absolutely love being a member of this little world.”
I’d love to hear about your process as a designer. Please tell me about that.
Every year the same cycle exists on a one-year cycle. Usually we start doing our research on new things we want to create in the fall. We work on some artwork in house, and also research prints and innovative fabrics and accessories from our dedicated set of high-end suppliers. We attend various supplier trade shows to see what has been developed in regards to fabric technology, and to see if there are any inspirational prints out there. Then we start working on creating the collection and work on patterns and samples in late winter, early spring. In the springtime we do our photo shoots and prepare our marketing collateral, and prepare to face the music in Miami in July! This is followed by the sales season and production, and then the cycle begins all over again!
Being featured in Sports Illustrated and being on Fashion TV. Both portals have so many brands bombarding them with information; and when they select to feature you, it really makes you feel special. Meeting people is also always a huge part I love and always honor. The world is so large but being in the world of fashion makes it just a little smaller and creates a family—I absolutely love being a member of this little world.
Any obstacles, or lows?
The markets have been difficult over the last few years. It is not easy when there is difficulty in collecting payments from customers; it is mentally and emotionally draining as these are good people and it’s been hard to see the tough times everyone is going through. The good thing is I think we are seeing the light and things are finally getting better.
What advice would you give an emerging swimsuit designer?
Prepare to keep it real but don’t be afraid to let your dreams guide you along the way. It’s not easy and you need a lot of love and support from family and friends and definitely need financial backing. Nothing is achievable alone; build a strong and reliable network around you. There is strength in numbers, so feel free to have partners in various skill sets together to make things happen.
What are your price points and where can one purchase your suits?
Our suits retail between $185 to $475 USD. We have various resort wear options as well in silks and gorgeous soft blends. You can purchase them at various online and physical stores across the United States, Canada, and Europe. Feel free to contact us at www.aquadilara.com for more details. We also sell our more exclusive styles on our website directly. At times we know there is a demand for the more original styles but stores play it safe. On our website, we provide that portal for people who want to be extra glamorous and stand out.
(All photos in this interview taken by Arun Nevader.)