Escale is an online fashion house that employs women from rural India in an effort to offer hope and opportunity.

Stepping into the Fashion Industry came at a time when she decided not to stray from her personal values and create a strong brand identity. Ferzin Irani knew where her heart was. It led and she followed.

Her take on fashion design was more than an activity that fundamentally weaves together the practices, skills, and materials associated with clothing the body. She wanted to weave together people in places. So, it was simply an organic progression for Ferzin to establish an online fashion brand, Escale in 2013, with a passion for reviving traditional crafts through fair trade policies. She wanted her work to showcase a deep sense of appreciation and conserve all aspects of culture, exploring the many strands of her Indian heritage.

Her take on fashion design was more than an activity that fundamentally weaves together the practices, skills, and materials associated with clothing the body.

Her endeavor was based on community outreach and to engage with women artisans by empowering them to be financially independent while instilling them with enhanced crafts skills. She explained, “When we began employing women artisans, it was initially challenging to train women to keep up with the production schedules and maintain international standards of quality. However, we took it up as an opportunity to make a difference. The idea was to firstly, offer women financial independence by creating a source of income for them and secondly, we wanted to save and revive old traditional designs, embroideries and stitches.”

Women artisan at work

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But what really made Ferzin stand out from so many other newcomers was the delicacy and honesty she brought to her vision of femininity, an approach that captivated her fans from across the multi-national cross-section of society the United Arab Emirates is. And within six years of opening its virtual doors, Escale (means ‘stopover’ in French), has become an international fashion brand based in Dubai, that combines the stunning simplicity of sustainable natural fabrics with the element of hand-woven artisan art value. Growing up in India, and now living in the emirates, her connect to the earthiness of home in her designs translates very evidently through all the electricity that’s here.

As the brand’s founder, her vision is to create every season’s collection with purpose. She believes that Escale is for the everyday influencer, who chooses to stand up with courage to make a difference and wants her fashion to do the same.

Ferzin lives by the saying “Be the change that you wish to see in the world” and endeavors to spread this message through her creative skills. She strongly believes that in order to be a great leader you must lead by example and change is initiated by one’s own efforts and vision first. In the last three years the brand has collaborated with Design Deals at the Zoroastrian Women’s Welfare Association in Ahmedabad in India and also collaborated on a project with Amar Foundation for the widows of war in Iraq to offer employment and hope to women who have limited or close to no other source of income.

Originally from Pune, India, Ferzin grew up being inspired by her mother who had a strong fashion background. Fortunately for her, she got the “love what you do, do what you love” value from her. Young Ferzin went on to marry a seafarer and joined him on many of his voyages – a great fueling for her creative process, she now credits her travels with. Nevertheless, this aspiring designer went on to educate herself formally and studied fashion at Esmond Dubai, The French Fashion Institute.

As the brand’s founder, her vision is to create every season’s collection with purpose. She believes that Escale is for the everyday influencer, who chooses to stand up with courage to make a difference and wants her fashion to do the same.

Ferzin, today, prides in weaving ‘responsibility’ into her designs, through active commitment to empower women artisans to build a better world for their families and empower buyers to make socially responsible choices. She undoubtedly designs to give a helping hand to the very people who have inspired the extraordinary in her brand.

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Now Escale has five full time artisans and many freelancers who come into the workshop on a per day basis. These could range from eight to twelve persons at a day depending on their domestic commitments, therefore the company remains flexible to continuously offer more employment opportunities for women. “We give them deadlines, or tell them to put in a certain number of hours a week. They need not come to the workshop every day”

Currently, she is working on several projects, which are under the research and development process. One of them is to dabble into the old Parsi craft of Gara and revive it into mainstream fashion.

Ferzin has also pledged to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – #1 No poverty, #8 Decent work and economic growth and #10 Reduced inequalities by being a facilitator of financial independence in artisan communities. It’s no wonder then that this socially conscious citizen of the world was acknowledged for her leadership skills by the Government of Abu Dhabi in 2015 for Women Leaders in UAE. She also received The Super Achiever Award at the 6th World Women Leadership Congress and recently her brand Escale won the Best Eco-Friendly Women’s Fashion Brand & Distinction Award for Disadvantaged Female Empowerment at MEA Markets 2019.

However, with all the recognition and awards pouring her way, Ferzin knows she has a long road ahead yet to explore, yet to tread on. She definitely believes in nurturing and paving her own path and looks forward to establishing as a globally recognized brand with a conscience.

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Listening to people, Yasmeen Maqbool acquaints herself to their life’s feature. What inspires and encourages, she’s always on the lookout for ‘passionistas’ and weaves their stories to bring to you the movers and shakers of today! Her only other true indulgence is spending quality time with her green fingers while listening to Jagjit Singh ‘ghazals’.

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