Sana’s Atelier – At the El Fenn Boutique
Morocco is buzzing with young creative talent and we’re constantly looking to showcase it in the El Fenn boutique. One of our most popular fashion lines is Sana’s Atelier, founded by 36-year-old Sana Verdada. We sat down with her to find out what inspires her.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m 36 and was born in Casablanca. After going to hospitality school in Marrakech, I started working in guest relations and deputy management positions at five star hotels here. But I also studied fashion in my spare time and in 2016, when I was working as head of marketing for a restaurant group in the medina, I designed my first caftan collection. El Fenn was the first place to trust my potential and stock Sana’s Atelier. Everything snowballed from there.
What inspires you?
Lots of things came together to create Sana’s Atelier. The colours and mix of fashion styles people wear in the medina inspired me a lot. Also, the fact that it’s filled with visitors from all over the world made me think about travelling, clothes and easy pieces that you can pack light. And finally, my biggest inspiration was my grandmother. She always wore caftans and looked so chic and stylish in them. But I’d always thought it was a shame that the younger generations wore them for special occasions. So all these thoughts came together and I started experimenting with making clothes based on the beauty of the traditional caftan but updated to create a more versatile, modern style. I wanted to create pieces that could be worn by any woman, of any size, day or night, over a swimsuit or with heels at night.
What’s unique about your clothes?
I always knew I wanted my pieces to have a signature. And early on, I started using buttons, braids, tassels and pompoms made by women in the Atlas Mountains. Now all my pieces have these handworked elements and every one is unique because there’s always a twist. So the cut might change a little or the colours and that means you will never find two Sana’s Atelier pieces that are exactly the same. I started my collection with shirt dresses and caftans and then added co-ordinates. But each time I add a new product, I have to be sure the cut is right. That’s the most important thing. The cut has to suit every woman’s shape.
Sana’s Atelier is an ethical fashion project. Tell us about that?
I have a sewing workshop in Marrakech where five wonderful women do the cutting and production. But until now all the handmade elements like buttons, tassels and braiding have been made by women working from home in the Ourika Valley. But I’ve just created the Tafza Atlas Co-operative with them and in the next few months we’ll be opening a workshop where six women will be work together. Fair wages are a given but that means they’ll also have access to medical treatment and profit share. The workshop will be open to the public so people can visit to see the work being done. And older women will also give lessons to the younger women in embroidery and carpet making. It’s vital that we protect the skills found in these rural communities. They are our roots, they’re what help us to showcase our artisanal culture in everything from fashion to decoration. And these women are also incredibly meticulous and talented. I want them to be proud of that.
What are your plans for the future?
Step by step, I want to enlarge the co-operative and make sure younger women are inspired to learn. This artisanal culture is in their blood. And they do their work with heart. It’s really inspiring. Also, I kept all my fabric offcuts from the very beginning. And now with the co-operative, we will start to make really circular fashion because we’ll use the offcuts to make bracelets, bags and accessories. It will mean we’ll be able to see the history of the brand in new products. I love that idea.
You can find a curated collection of Sana’s Atelier clothing in the El Fenn Boutique – open daily from 11am to 8pm.