Berba, the brainchild of Los Angeles-based designer Jake Fessenden, has recently found a perfect retail partner in the acclaimed Soukie Modern boutique. This boutique, located in Palm Springs and Joshua Tree, is celebrated for its exceptional rugs, clothing, and home goods that seamlessly blend Moroccan artistry with a Californian touch. This collaboration marks a significant milestone for the 28-year-old designer, as both share a deep love for Berber culture and its aesthetic richness.
Fessenden’s passion for fashion can be traced back to his creative grandmother, a skilled seamstress who could mend and create garments with finesse. Rejecting the world of fast fashion, he initially ventured into the realm of upcycled clothing before conceiving the concept of Berba. This brand is a tribute to craftsmanship, where each piece is meticulously crafted from the finest materials sourced from Morocco, designed to stand the test of time.
Inspired by a transformative trip to Morocco, Fessenden embarked on a quest to identify the most skilled textile artisans who could help bring his collections to life. «For three weeks, I traversed the country, beginning in Casablanca, exploring the tanneries of Fès, witnessing the stunning Sahara desert, uncovering Ouarzazate, and concluding my journey in Marrakech. It was in Marrakech where my guide introduced me to the finest craftsmen, immersing me in Berber culture, and revealing why luminaries like Yves Saint Laurent had fallen in love with Morocco.»
His journey led him to a family of craftsmen who expertly wove fabrics on traditional wooden looms. It was the spirit of family and the ability to produce pieces in small quantities that captivated Fessenden. «I watched them pass the thread through what we call a ‘reed,’ crafted from iron nails, and followed the bobbin as it gracefully danced back and forth on the loom. It was a centuries-old process that deeply moved me. From that moment, I knew I had to share what I had witnessed.»
Inspired by Morocco’s natural vibrancy, its vivid colors, textures, and architectural marvels, Fessenden created his first collection using 100% natural and soft cotton. Each design is a unique masterpiece, never to be replicated. Their fabric is woven in small runs, allowing for meticulous quality control. Berba stands as a torchbearer of slow fashion, with each garment designed to be cherished and passed down through generations.
The initial launch includes a range of tops, including boxy tee-shirts in wide stripes and three-pocket shirts in an array of natural colors. The Berba brand is set to expand into other fashion segments in the coming seasons, with Fessenden stating, «My clothes are versatile, perfect for the beach, a dinner party, or a night out. I’m currently working on a ‘Woven for the Wanderer’ collection centered on travel, with plans to broaden our offerings to include outerwear, pants, and shorts.»
Backed by a private investor, Fessenden began by selling his collections at craft markets, such as the Artists & Fleas Venice market and West Coast Craft in San Francisco. His next endeavor is to expand the brand’s reach to multi-brand retailers like Soukie Modern. He also envisions showcasing Berba at hotels and resorts and is diligently working on a capsule collection set to debut in Saint-Barthélémy this winter.
Fessenden concludes with a heartfelt sentiment, «Global domination is not my aim. But the joy of showcasing superior craftsmanship and ancient traditions, making them known in the Western world, that’s what truly makes me happy.»