Daria Barbalata | Leather Maker
Before going into all the specifics around my background, what you need to know about me is that I've always felt the urge to stand up for the underdog, the downtrodden. So, naturally, when put in front of choosing my 'weapon of choice', I was drawn by the unwanted, the unloved, the fabric that whispers its story to few and is disregarded by most.
I am an architect, a designer and ultimately a MAKER.
After getting my degree in architecture and part-time doodling fashion sketches, I decided what I actually want to be when I grow up is a fashion designer. Not because of all the glamour around it - of course that plays its part - but more importantly, there's such a huge cultural impact fashion has on the world and there's so much that needs changing!
So I embarked upon the journey that was my Masters in Fashion Design with Cambridge School of Art where I discovered my true passion for leather, craftsmanship and ethical design.
Leather...it's hard to say exactly what it was about it that drew me; maybe its sharp smell, or maybe the incredibly interesting texture that alters constantly as the years go by reinventing itself...One thing is certain though: when I first touched leather with the hands and eyes of a craftswoman, I couldn't let it go!
Flawsome | The Concept
I started sourcing hides for my master project and soon realised there's a terrible waste going on! So many off-cuts disregarded for no other reason than being on the wrong side of the cut...So many skins not making it through quality checks so quick to discard them for the smallest flaw like an old animal injury...So many beautiful timeworn pieces that are rather condemned than celebrated for their history...
I just had to do something about it! So I decided to handstitch my entire MA collection from carefully handpicked off-cuts that might have otherwise ended up in a landfill just because nobody else could appreciate their unique beauty.
This decision turned out to be a stepping stone as it won me Student Entrepreneur of the Year with Anglia Ruskin University within The Big Pitch competition that rewarded me with funding and mentorship to start what is now FLAWSOME.
Flawsome Today | The Design Process
Today I meticulously source and gather together the most interesting and beautiful leather off-cuts of all colours and textures. I am inspired by their aesthetic and constantly daydream imagining their story and where they came from to finally end up with me. I then handcraft them into exquisite one-off pieces ranging from clothes to statement accessories that you won't find anywhere else.
No 2 pieces I make will ever be the same! So when you buy FLAWSOME you get a trully unique design that I hope you'll want to keep for a lifetime if not pass on to your children and grandchildren. I aim to breathe life into this overlooked, but extremely valuable fabric and make it into something appreciated by generations to come, hopefully long after I've saved it.