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Meet Farshad Afshar of Bled in The Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Farshad Afshar.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Farshad. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I come from an Iranian immigrant family. My parents left Iran after the revolution and moved to Germany, where I was then born. We then moved to Los Angeles in my youth. Just like other immigrant families, I witnessed my parents working tirelessly to provide for us whilst simultaneously navigating and assimilating to a new culture. They owned a men’s suit-store on 9th and Los Angeles, so I spent much of my youth and adolescence roaming around the fashion district. I definitely attribute that time spent in downtown to much of who I am today and the lens I view the world in. I slowly developed a unique sense of conflating beauty and aesthetics with realness and rawness.

After years of working a 9-5, I felt uninspired and was longing for change. I decided to quit my job in 2015 and bought a ticket to Europe. It was a time of much uncertainty for me, nevertheless I needed a change of scenery and pace. I visited many beautiful countries with rich history and complex architecture. As I made my way around Europe, I began to develop a vision and that is how BLED came to fruition. I realized I wanted to create something for myself and others inspired by a conglomeration of past, present and future inspiration. The idea of having a Euro style track-pant inspired by Los Angeles contemporary wear & Iranian heritage was a no brainer for me. The idea wasn’t solely about the garment design but the visual representation in its entirety. If I hadn’t dared to try something new and delve into the unknown, BLED would not exist today. My advice to the younger generation is that life is short and we all have an expiration date so make the most of your time here on earth.

Has it been a smooth road?
Honestly, being a novice to the industry and my lack of experience cost me a lot of my time and money. Sourcing trustworthy suppliers and manufacturers was the most trying and precarious part of starting my brand. This was partly because creating a brand from scratch and finding reliable suppliers and manufacturers is not an easy feat. I had no connections to the fashion industry so it was just trial and error. It has been a difficult journey but the road to dictating your own life is full of struggles and failure. I went in with accepting this fact and let it be the driving force behind my perseverance. Often times, as an entrepreneur, it is easy to compare yourself to others who succeed and surpass you but as you master your craft those thoughts just become fleeting moments. I think if you’re a person who allows the opinions of others to f*ck with you then you need to re-valuate. Staying true to your vision and patience are the two most important things when starting a business. You’re on God’s schedule.. don’t rush him.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the BLED story. Tell us more about the business.
Bled is a men’s contemporary ‘streetwear’ brand. We focus on minimal yet robust designs that are inspired by my Iranian/European background along with my Los Angeles upbringing. We don’t mass produce or drop huge collections. The industry has definitely shifted the last few years and consumers are looking for something different now…not something every other person can get their hands on at the mall. Being that I’m a little older than this younger generation, I appreciate them being open-minded and pushing the industry forward. At the end of the day, the younger demographic drives what’s going to move so it’s important for me to remain as authentic as possible while also making sure I’m staying contemporary and up to date. I never want to compromise my brand’s integrity to follow a momentary trend. I’ve always said BLED doesn’t have customers it has supporters. My goal is to make them feel uniquely themselves and special when putting on a BLED piece.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
They say streetwear will be extinct in a year or so but I don’t believe that at all. I’m a huge fan of the late Anthony Bourdain, so I spent a lot of time watching his old episodes. I realized that streetwear can be paralleled to international street food in a sense. Essentially, chefs at 5-star restaurants get their inspiration from street food and implement that into their menus. It’s the same concept used by luxury fashion brands. High-end brands have research teams that scout independent streetwear brands and then they use those same designs or visuals to create their own line without oftentimes crediting the novice or underground designer. Streetwear has skyrocketed globally these past five years because of independent streetwear brands. I believe it will only continue to grow.

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Image Credit:
Farshad A.

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