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Roksan Sarfati talks about her multi-cultural upbringing in Turkey, and her journey to create a sustainable fashion brand, Máh-roc.
Most of us have to leave our countries to experience a different culture, learn a new language, or taste an amazing cuisine that we never knew existed. For eco-fashion designer Roksan Safarti, a melting pot of culture was constantly bubbling inside her very home.
The daughter of Turkish and Italian parents, Roksan grew up speaking French as her first language in the bustling, transcontinental capital of Istanbul. Her parents owned and operated a family textile business, her mother a Paris-educated designer. At home Roksan was constantly emulating her mother’s creativity, learning about materials and observing the textile process. There was no doubt that she too would weave her way into the fashion industry.
Roksan’s parents valued safety and education for their daughters above all else, and intended to keep their children at a distance from the intense religious and cultural clamor that characterized the Eurasian metropolis. But even in the comfort of her progressive upbringing, tensions within the city shaped Roksan’s perspectives on education, social justice, and art.
Fashion became a means of protection, a way to shield herself from Istanbul’s seemingly irreconcilable cultural differences. Using design in this way showed Roksan that fashion can be more than just creative self-expression; it can serve to empower, to inspire, and to foster change.
This inspiration remained resolute as she pursued her education in Milan, Italy. After working for 7 years in the “fast fashion” industry and witnessing the wasteful practices of the textile trade, Roksan knew that she needed to take responsibility and advocate for change. But to do that would take a leap of faith.
Roksan left the security of her fast fashion job to create the independent label Máh-roc, a brand that’s all about differences. Through these differences, be it language, religion, or race, she believes we can learn to appreciate the beauty attained when we work together to lift each other higher.
With sustainability and empowerment as its prerogatives, Máh-roc travels around the world to collect discarded fabrics and give opportunities to local people in different countries. Through these meaningful collaborations and heart-first connections, the brand aspires to bring a global awareness to the growing slow fashion movement.
“Brands are more than their collections and products,” Roksan says. “Brands are living advocates. We have the power to influence what we do and how we do things.”
Listen to the podcast to learn more about Roksan Safarti and Máh-roc as they Switch the Flip on the fashion industry.
After working in the fashion industry for seven years, Roksan decided to create her own company on the principles of sustainability and ethical production. As the creative director and founder of Máh-roc, she is doing her part to Switch the Flip on fast fashion.
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