Sanaz Shirazi is a name that resonates loudly in the fashion world. The Iranian born and internationally raised Shirazi has created some of the most sought after fur and shearling collections since she started her eponymous brand after business school. Her Sanaz Shirazi Collection (SSC) specializes is furs and shearlings with original designs and styles created by Ms. Shirazi. Her company has showrooms around the world. And SSC has been worn by A-listers in the entertainment industry including BAFTA and Golden Globe nominee Sienna Miller, Golden Globe winner and Academy Award nominee Kate Hudson, model and style icon Kate Moss, Super Model Elle Macpherson, many other A-listers at red carpet award ceremonies, Empress Farah Pahlavi and European royalty, among others.
Ms. Shirazi has been interviewed and featured in numerous prodigious publications, including Elle, Vogue, Grazia, The Hollywood Reporter, GQ, W Magazine, Le Figaro, Glamour, Teen Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Marie Claire, In Style, Conde Nast Traveller, The Daily Mail,The Times, The Guardian and Vice Magazine to name a few. She has been interviewed on Voice of America and was a judge on Googoosh’s Persian version of American Idol on Manoto TV.
We caught up with Sanaz Shirazi, a prolific Persian, who has been a force in the fashion industry, to learn about her amazing career and how she created such an iconic brand.
Iman Sadri : Can you describe your upbringing, background and how you got into fashion design ?
Sanaz Shirazi : I earned my Bachelor’s degree in International Marketing from BI Norwegian Business School.
After my studies I started working in the media industry in marketing, early on. I worked with corporations and brands such as L’Oreal, Wella, and had PR clients such as Nike, Levi’s, Sony and Warner Music where I managed A-list talent. I then interned for Marie Claire magazine in London after my studies, and then later worked for DKNY, Selfridge’s and did publicity for The Metropolitan Hotel in Park Lane.
In Oslo I worked at Dagens Naeringsliv financial newspaper and then later went to the Leo Burnett advertising agency as a project leader. I later trained at the Central School of Speech And Drama in London. There I learned the value of performance and how much it affects our day-to-day work.
I started to represent and work with British independent brands for the Scandinavian market right after I finished at Central. Working with trade shows for Puma trainers, production teams and unique shoe brands. Then with Brooklyn brands in NYC, and being involved in trade and production and sales.
In 2006, together with my sister Tanaz Shirazi, who has a degree in Business and Management from BI and UCLA, we founded SSC, which is an international Eco-Lux brand and company with bases in Oslo, L.A. and London.
SSC was launched and successfully developed in the international market, branching to the prestigious ski resorts such in Gstaad, Zermatt, St. Moritz and Verbier.
We wanted the consumers to use recycled fur and styles made from meat industry by- products, always being aware of the environment. We wanted to create a brand that was Eco friendly – by not using synthetic products and to have a slow process of distribution and manufacturing.
Our family background goes back a long way when it comes to shearling and sheep fur manufacturing and distribution. Our family used to use meat industry by products – including furs and shearling and exported them to European fashion houses and the international automobile industry.
That was inspiring for us, to bring the family history and heritage back to the present and continue the Eco-Lux production.
The message behind SSC has always been producing environmentally friendly, timeless and slow-produced fashion products – using our heritage, culture, and vision. It’s about preserving the heritage of our culture and honoring it to educate future generations.
IS: What was the inspiration to start your own fashion line ?
Sanaz Shirazi: The Persian culture has always had significant influence in what I create. Our great history and rich culture has always been a part of me. The literature I read and the Persian poetry such of Hafez, the art, motion pictures, music and architecture has always been a source of inspiration. Our international upbringing has influenced the creative process of creating the brand.
I don’t think that anything is an obstacle in life in achieving your goals. And I don’t believe in competition but in collaborating with others. Because nobody can be you, no one has the same experience in life and sees things as you do, so whatever you create as long as you are true to yourself and not copying others or following trends, but keeping it original then you wont have any competition. Be true to yourself, and work hard.
Being original, it’s the foundation. One is never done learning, the process goes on forever. It’s about contributing and creating, building your knowledge and intellect. I have seen how hard work and sacrifice and the never ending search for knowledge has been so rewarding.
To create, make an influence and stand for something that you believe in. It is also very important to have great mentors along the way, people who inspire you and bring your awareness to the next level.
IS: How would you best describe SSC ?
Sanaz Shirazi : Not following trends but being timeless and biodegradable. We are working with new distributers and agents internationally and are also continuously bringing awareness through international media about our philosophy. Establishing high profile customers and managing sales reps at prestigious retailers worldwide in Europe, the U.S., the Middle East and Asia. We’re always looking for great minds to join our team.
I am involved in both the creative and the production side of the company. The brand has reveled in significant expansion and appreciated success since its initial conception and we will continue to be innovative.
We are also working on more on the Men’s line for our brand. Which is inspired by the fine classic collection of jackets from friends who have gone to schools such as Eton, Harrow and Stowe in the UK, which I have collected over the years.
IS: How did your upbringing in Iran, India and Europe influence your design patterns and styles ?
Sanaz Shirazi : I went to school in Iran, India, UK and Norway. I think as a child attending St. Paul’s, which was an English school in India, I developed my creative foundation. Perhaps the drive to be able to influence on a greater scale, understanding and bringing cultures together comes from my international upbringing.
IS:Who were some of your fashion influences that you most admire ?
Sanaz Shirazi :My mum is a big fashion influence. She has always been innovative and never follows trends. Also the haute Bohemian looks of late muses and the society women in history have been influential on me.
IS: How did you get your first few sales and how is business today ?
Sanaz Shirazi : It all started in the European market with a single style of a reversible woman’s vest. We were discovered by the best agents and sales reps that understood and believed in our philosophy. We then started to collaborate and showcase the styles at leading trade shows in New York and Europe. Today we have many international showrooms.
IS: What was the process to have your first celebrity wear your collection ?
Sanaz Shirazi: The brand has had major media coverage and I have done interviews bringing awareness to the brand and the Eco Lux process, being profiled in leading publications. A-listers in the entertainment, sports and the music world, as well as European royals, have been wearing the brand. It shows that they are supportive of our philosophy and slow consumption, and it has played a big part in making the company as successful as it is today.
IS: What is your favorite style/design in your collection thus far ?
Sanaz Shirazi : Shearling vests and coats perfect for jet setting to Aspen and Gstaad.
IS: What are some future collaborative efforts design you would like to partake in ?
Sanaz Shirazi :The world of motion pictures has always influenced the world I create within the realm of my work.
The same goes for fashion, as the costumes and styles gives the person who carries it the image of what they want the world to see them as. It gives the character identity, without saying a word you understand them, so some people are creating an image and not showing their true identity and self, protecting themselves from the society while others carry clothing as they feel and it reflects their inner confidence and what they have truly become over the years.
With the entertainment industry image making is crucial for an artist that is performing, while costumes for a character that an actor is playing makes their job easier, get into the character. Trends are very much influenced by the political and financial situation of the world and fashion, music, movies and arts are the off spring of it.
Leather, shearling and recycled fur are heritage materials that have been in our culture since the old days. They have used them in the Clint Eastwood and John Wayne Westerns and in the glamorous era of the 1920s. And you saw them in the hippie late-60s fringe jackets.
When we see images of actresses wearing our brand of shearling vests such as the one seen on Kate Hudson and Sienna Miller, it shows that something as timeless as shearling will never go out of fashion, such as a great movie can also live on forever.
If you look at, for instance, fur in cinema it has always, from the beginning, made the actresses more glamorous and was used to add to the character’s wealth and personality. It is timeless and that’s what the Sanaz Shiraz Collection is all about.
Our furs are recycled and eco-friendly, versatile in ways most items are not. This will always support my philosophy, cause and vision. When the actual finished product is out, you know that you have made a difference much like how the movies have such a great power and influence on people the world over, regardless of gender, nationality and race.
I was invited as a celebrity judge for the Persian version of American Idol. The GoogooshMusic Academy in London. Like American Idol contestants are chosen out of hundreds of competitors to complete a number of challenges each episode. The challenge that I judged was an exploration of the intersection of fashion and music and the importance of style to an artist’s success. I think the choice of style for the talent by their management and corporate companies are very important for the talent and their image making process and performance.
Sanaz Shiraz Collection collaborations and sponsorships have included charities, supporting the arts internationally, major film festivals, photoshoots with leading creatives and photographers in the industry, and collaborating with major motion picture studios.
IS: Imagine you are 100 years old and reading your Wikipedia profile. What are some of the other career milestones you would like to achieve ?
Sanaz Shirazi : Contribution for causes I believe in, continue working for causes I believe in and bringing awareness to them.
“When we see images of actresses wearing our brand of shearling vests such as the one seen on Kate Hudson and Sienna Miller, it shows that something as timeless as shearling will never go out of fashion, such as a great movie can also live on forever.”