24 Hours With… By Walid
Meet Walid Damirji, the designer who cracked the code on sustainable luxury long before it became a buzzword. Founded in 2011, his namesake label By Walid creates artful clothing and homeware pieces using antique textiles sourced from around the world. The result? One-off pieces steeped in storytelling, finished with Walid’s idiosyncratic flair. We met the designer to find out how he runs his By Walid world.
“My garden in London - where I source much of my inspiration. Being in touch with nature allows me to consider ways of reusing textiles to preserve the natural world in all its glory.”
“Starting the day in my studio, surrounded by books and fabrics to kickstart the creative process.”
What time do you wake up and where?
No matter what time I’ve gone to bed the night before I wake up early, between five and six in the morning.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
Drink a black coffee and read the paper.
Where are you usually based?
West London - I live off Holland Park.
What does your average day look like?
Busy! It doesn’t stop from hour to hour. Wonderful!
Do you have any rituals?
Whatever the weather is like, I walk from my home to the studio. That covers my daily 11,000 steps.
Where is your studio located?
My studio is off Brook Green, in West London.
“Each of our By Walid pieces are made from antique fabrics sourced from around the world. I love that no two items are the same, and that the textiles offer such a sense of history.”
How would you describe what you do?
My day always starts with textiles sourcing; speaking to dealers and auction houses. Then it’s studio time with my assistants which could involve new fabric developments, homewares or clothing - depending on who gets to me first!
How has your background influenced who you are today?
I had the best mentors in the industry. The late Joseph Ettedgui and Joan Burstein, aka. Mrs B, the founder of Browns.
How did you get your start in fashion?
It was by accident (I’d sworn never to go back to the clothing industry!) It essentially started with one jacket that received orders for 800 units.
What are the most important factors for the brand?
We were at the forefront of sustainability and recycling, and our signature is a recognizable one. I’m always thinking of how to make and treat a textile.
How do you get into a creative headspace?
I’m always in one. I love what I do so I find it hard to detach.
Whilst working, where do you go and what do you do to take a break?
I often work from my study/library at home. My books transplant me! I used to travel so much when I wanted to take a break, but nowadays simpler outings are adventures in themselves. I recently visited friends in Hastings!
Do you have a favourite piece from your new collection?
The Alain trousers which are made from recycled cotton shirts. So comfortable. And the Albert jacket covered in 18th and 19th century mother of Pearl buttons. So coveted!
Which By Walid item would you give as a gift and why?
Any of our cushions made with 17th and 18th century textiles.
Who would you most like to see wearing By Walid, or using your soft furnishings in their home?
The queen on both counts.
“Me and my friend Joan Burstein, aka. Mrs B, the founder of Browns. She’s a dear friend and frequent dinner companion.”
“Evenings can often start at The Conduit Club - a hub for environmentalists. I was asked to design one of the lounges there.”
What’s on your bookshelf right now?
Les Enfants de Louis-Philippe et La France by Arnaud Teyssier and Henry "Chips" Channon, The Diaries 1918-38, Simon Heffer.
What do you usually do for dinner?
I like catching up with my friends and make an effort to see them, so I dine out three or four times a week. My favourite places to eat are Nobu, River Café, Amaya and Mazi.
Last thing you do before you sleep?
Empty the head space. I always have at least three books at my bedside, but also often meditate.
What do you dream about?
It wouldn’t be appropriate to say!
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