In 2013, the fashion photographer Randall Bachner founded Marrakshi Life. He had just arrived in Morocco, inspired to work with talented weavers who could craft quality fabrics in a combination of unique colors and patterns. With an emphasis on traditional touareg dresses, the label presents made-to-order unisex pieces that are rooted in slow, sustainable practices.
Today with an in-house team of local Marrakech artisans, Marrakshi Life presents its eighth collection for Spring/Summer 2021 to celebrate comfort and craftsmanship within the traditional Moroccan wardrobe.
Bachner spoke with Whitewall about honoring the people of Morocco with his label, how its garments are hand loomed in its Marrakech atelier, and the sustainable cotton collection that’s coming up next.
WHITEWALL: Why did you decide to move beyond photography and launch Marrakshi Life in 2013?
RANDALL BACHNER: When I decided to come to Morocco it was because I was inspired to work with the weavers and make fabrics you would desire to drape on your body. I saw they had the artisans yet they were not weaving the textiles in color combos or stripes that were appealing to me, I really was motivated by this challenge.
WW: Which key style elements from the traditional Moroccan wardrobe do you embrace at the label?
RB: All of our oversized shirts, caftans, and touareg style dresses are very easy to wear—loose, flowy, and reminiscent of key pieces from the Moroccan wardrobe. Our fabrics, however, and the use of a chosen color palette are what modernizes the pieces.
WW: What is special to you about the people of Morocco, and what you aim to highlight in the wardrobe that embraces their spirit?
RB: I find the people of Morocco to be very patient, loyal, and dedicated. Most of the team has been working with us since the beginning. This has helped us to perfect our product together and to learn from each other along the way.
WW: Can you walk us through how the pieces are created with in-house team of local Marrakech artisans?
RB: As all our garments are hand loomed in our atelier in Marrakech. The process is vertical, and all done own our atelier. It starts by hand, loading the warp upon the loom. This process takes six men. From there, the yarn spinner prepares the yarns on small bobbins, depending on the thread count of the fabric we are creating. The spinner then passes the amount of loaded bobbins needed to the two weavers at the flatbed loom.
Traditionally, these are run by two men—one passes the shuttle holding the yarn to the other back and for the, meter by meter. After washing the fabric, we then hand cut each piece then it is carefully tailored and finished, and voila! There you have an ML garment made by artisans.
WW: What was the inspiration behind your Spring/Summer 2021 collection?
RB: Spring/Summer 2021 was inspired about the degradation of colors and how you can achieve this through different weaving techniques—from color blocking and paneling to optic stripes. Collection 8 is a group of eight fabric groups with a very optimistic [idea].
WW: How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact production of the label, and the inspiration behind what you’re creating now?
RB: As we are based in Marrakech, people were always in and out of town from around the world discovering us; visiting the atelier to see our process. Of course, since the pandemic, such visiting has ceased, and it became our challenge to share with the world what we do through social media and our online shop. It has been a challenge, but also very creative at the same time.
WW: What is one garment you feel epitomizes the Marrakshi Life?
RB: I love how our toured dresses have been evolving from season to season. I have been playing the details and lengths of this piece in each collection, and love that it is appealing to both men in women which was very unexpected to me.
WW: What are you working on next?
RB: We are currently working on our new “High Summer” collection which is 100 percent cotton and next to launch followed by Fall/Winter 2021! More weaving ideas and color combos coming your way—all made to order.