Creator of cool accessories, Rashi Agarwal Favier at six feet one-inches tall is hard to miss. We love her sustainably created line of leather goods and constantly want to steal her outfit ideas. She spent a day amidst the charming streets of Pondicherry, India showing off her favourite JODI pieces.
Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you based?
I am an accessory designer, specialising in leather handbags. I studied accessory design at the London College of Fashion. After working with a big handbag brand, I started my own accessory brand, Raff, in Pondicherry. Recently I moved to Amsterdam to join my Dutch husband, Maurtis, and have been loving it.
Where does your love for accessory design come from?
I love all fashion in general but I think accessories can make or break an outfit. Also, there is a lot more space to be creative with handbags as a designer, as it doesn't have to fit a body part, so I can really experiment with materials and shape.
Rashi wears the Noor Draped Dress
“I immediately fell in love with the fabric, super soft and the effort that goes in making a Bandhani textile can be seen. This dress was my favourite as it just looked so regal and effortless. I would love to wear this at a destination wedding.”
When did you realize you wanted to pursue it as a business?
I always knew I would do something in the creative field and fashion is truly my passion, I live and breathe it. So for me, it was kind of a no-brainer as it is what I love doing the most. I also a space in the market for well made sustainable handbags that are unique in style and yet affordable. Which is what we try to do here at Raff.
Please tell us a bit about your accessory brand.
Raff produces high-quality leather bags for women, using natural vegetable tanned leather that is a by-product of the meat industry. We are a sustainable brand that believes in making original designs, providing an honest treatment of our employees and keeping our environmental impact at a minimum. Our designs are minimal but still unique and fresh. Our bags are completely hand-stitched using the saddle-stitch technique in Auroville, India which is not common as it is time-consuming. It is a better alternative to PU or PVC bags as our bags will last a lifetime and get better with age. Our design from the latest collection was recently nominated at the Independent Handbag Design Awards.
Raff by Rashi.
How are you managing running your business between India and Amsterdam?
It has been quite a transition as all our products are made in Auroville, India. We only design one collection a year as we believe in producing only when we know we have perfected the design and we make small quantities, so that makes it a bit easier for us. We are focusing now on marketing more in Holland but I am also personally looking for new opportunities in Amsterdam as there so much to learn in the sustainable fashion scene and Amsterdam is a great hub for that.
What was the best advice you were given when you started your business?
Listen to your instincts.
Don't give up your values for profit.
Top 3 experiences you recommend in Pondicherry.
- Goubert Market: I love visiting the local market as you can find the freshest produce and it is full of life! You can also buy freshly ground coffee or handmade baskets.
- Swimming in Paradise beach: Beaches in Pondicherry aren't the most scenic but the spot right opposite Le Pondy hotel is clean and usually quiet. Top tip, you can pay Rs.500 at Le Pondy and access their beach, pool, and bathrooms for the day.
- Cafe hopping: Pondicherry has amazing cafes and restaurants with delicious food, some of my favourites are La villa, Coromandel Cafe and Crepe in Touch.
Top 3 experiences you recommend in Amsterdam.
- Canal Boat ride: Hire a boat and do a private canal boat ride (if the weather permits). You can pack a picnic with beers and see Amsterdam the best way possible.
- Go thrift/vintage shopping: Amsterdam is great for finding unique pieces in Thrift or Vintage stores. My favourites are Penny Lane Vintage, Indianaweg, The Kilostore and Time Machine. There are also often flea markets around the city which are great.
- Coffee/beer on a terrace: Just sitting by a canal on a terrace sipping on a locally brewed coffee, taking in the beauty of the city, is still one of my favourite things to do in Amsterdam.
Rashi wears the Gauguin Indigo Skirt
“This skirt is so flattering and sexy! The detail where you can pull up the slit as much as you like is genius. I would wear this every day if I could.”
Who are your favourite fashion inspiration icons?
Alexa Chung and Leandra Medine
What is the most adventurous thing you have done?
Starting my own accessory business! Does that count? Because what an adventure!
How do you keep up with making sustainable fashion choices?
I have a new found love for thrift shopping and vintage shopping. You find unique pieces that no one else has plus it can be of great quality. I also love clothing swaps where you exchange clothing that you don't wear anymore. I have found amazing pieces (including a Prada jacket!) at these and it really inspires you to pick pieces that you normally wouldn't.
Rashi wears the Bela Silk Dress
“ Love the off-shoulder detail. Knowing that everything is hand-block printed makes it special. The embroidery on the print is my favourite part as it makes it looks luxe.”
Pictures by- Saum