In bustling Marrakech, Randall Bachner and Nicholas Minucciani conceived Marrakshi Life from the city’s juxtaposed ancient and modern charms. “We fell in love with the buzzy energy, pink painted walls, and darker, edgier side,” they recall. This hidden Marrakech became their canvas, the backdrop for their next chapter, and in 2013, it prompted a courageous move from New York to their new creative haven. The city became their sprawling workshop, teeming with threads, colors, looms, and artisans dedicated to fusing Moroccan tradition with contemporary flair.
Their latest opus, the Rainbow Collection, as Minucciani describes it, “is a hallmark of Marrakshi Life and a highlight of our first runway collection in Spain.” He adds, “The rainbow represents a spectrum of humanity, a burst of joy, nostalgia, and uniqueness.” Bachner’s talent for crafting color combinations takes center stage in this collection. “In some ways, he’s a bit of a mad scientist,” Minucciani humorously admits. Bachner finds inspiration in his surroundings, often sketching or painting stripes on paper. Once the colors are chosen, the yarn papers are handed over to their head weaver to begin creating swatches. “We weave approximately 100 swatches per collection, and after careful evaluation, we finalize about 20 fabrics. Then, we focus on the silhouettes.” An affinity for classic East Coast stripes and oversized, comfortable, simple shapes easily merges with the Moroccan tradition of layering pajamas beneath djellabas and kaftans. Minucciani asserts, “At its core, our clothing is genderless.” Marrakshi Life’s silhouette is a celebration of relaxed elegance and inclusivity, featuring loose cuts and gender-neutral aesthetics that indulge in the luxury of handwoven fabrics.
At the core of Marrakshi Life beats a resolute commitment to sustainability and an unwavering partnership with local artisans. Minucciani underscores their comprehensive approach to fashion, stating, “Sustainability for us transcends how we make our garments – it extends to the way of life and working conditions for our team of artisans and the creative community they work in.” Their weaving atelier is home to 65 dedicated artisans and tailors, along with 20 looms. For Bachner and Minucciani, it represents a family that has been with them for seven years, spanning three generations of weaving families. “The artisans are our DNA,” Minucciani emphasizes. “Each handwoven fabric carries the story of the weaver from our atelier to our customers’ homes.” He adds, “We’ve built an emotional connection; often, our communication isn’t through words but through emotions and gestures. We all share a passion for craftsmanship and look out for each other.” The atelier operates as a vertically integrated system, ensuring a minimal environmental footprint with reduced waste and energy consumption. Every garment is handwoven to order, eliminating excess stock and waste. This holistic approach extends to importing raw cotton yarns from organic farms in Egypt, minimizing water usage, and keeping electricity consumption to a minimum.
Marrakshi Life’s creations are coveted not just by men, its designs appealing to women too. A moment of pride enveloped the brand this summer as Carrie Bradshaw, brought to life by Sarah Jessica Parker, adorned its multicolored V-neck Touareg dress in an episode of And Just Like That. This serendipitous collaboration with costume designer Molly Rogers blossomed from a simple DM into a partnership that thrust Marrakshi Life onto the global spotlight. For Bachner and Minucciani, watching their creation grace the screen was an awe-inspiring culmination of their journey. “We launched the dress as the SJP Dress on our site,” Minucciani joyfully conveys, adding, “It was a euphoric experience.”
Reflecting on the fashion industry’s present landscape, Marrakshi Life champions an embrace of risks, advocating for a fusion of timeless elements with innovative touches. It encourages fashion enthusiasts to rally behind emerging brands, asserting that supporting such labels “entails adopting a holistic approach to sustainability and ethical craftsmanship.” It underscores the importance of self-education in the realm of fashion consumption, urging consumers to delve deeper into understanding the products they purchase and the individuals who breathe life into these garments.
Today, the brand remains dedicated to the art of reinvention with each new collection. Handwoven Italian wool will make its debut, intertwining with traditional cotton flat weave to create textured designs. Anticipate a winter collection featuring trench coats, sweaters, shawls, and matching sets, boasting a harmonious palette of grays, blacks, navy, and refreshing mint greens, slated for 2024. As Minucciani concludes, clients can expect “a creative twist on every collection and stories dedicated to the fabric of the season with cameo appearances from some of our most admired artists and brand supporters.”
Originally published in the Fall/Winter 2023 issue of Vogue Man Arabia