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A Look Into the History of Eskandar Nabavi; What the Future Holds

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[ Photos: James Atkins]

Since luxury women's clothier, Eskandar has opened on Walton, much recognition and warm welcomes have been shared with the staff. From the Gold Coast to Los Angeles to London we've been hearing this Midwest outpost has started cultivating relationships with Eskandar lovers and giving ground to the volume sold in Chicago.

In this clean and warm, comfortable and casual orb of hand knits and master craftsmanship there must be a face to go with the name — and the man behind the brand is Eskandar Nabavi.

Now being sold at more than 50 locations worldwide (33 of those are at Neiman's) he made time to come to Chicago to dress the flagship in finishing touches. During this trip, we had a chance to stop by and chat with the designer about his career and what the future holds for the house of Eskandar.

[Eskandar Nabavi in his Chicago boutique]

Upon sitting down in the leather chairs in the front of his store, he starts on a cup of tea from the kitchen and extinguishes a scented Diptyque candle so as not to interfere with the conversation. Relaxed and pleasant, the very humble designer tells us that at a young age he was very creative and passionate about varying cultures due to to his parents travels. As Eskandar became older, he was traveling with them throughout Europe and the Far East. He carefully sips his tea and expounds upon his love of travel and how it instigated his schooling in England, studying geography.

The art that became of this early-life experience traveling and studying geography was in the form of knitting, as his grandmother taught him. The concept Eskandar had honed was simple and traditional focusing on flowing shapes that make the garments easy to wear, inspired by cloaks he saw on women of native cultures. He soon moved into a narrow second floor studio in London's design district where he created these garments.

Eskandar's break came during a trunk show in the early 90's and selling several styles to a woman in a Rolls Royce with a chauffeur, who we later found out to be a powerful society auctioneer. She told her friends, who told their friends about the most comfortable sweaters they've ever owned. Shortly after that, Eskandar was approached by Egg, to sell a limited edition. On the first day being stocked at Egg, Eskandar sat in the window knitting sweaters, greeting the women entering the shop. As we can imagine, the society women loved this amiable young man, which led to a viral word-of-mouth campaign for the sweaters, which led to more orders. The rest is history.

The history of expansion is global--Eskandar operates flagships in Paris, New York, LA, Milan, the original in London and now Chicago. "My women are international and seem to understand me", the soft spoken designer tells us. Now that the brand is stocking jewelry, housewares, antiques, silks in addition to hand knits in natural materials, his customer can immerse themselves material possessions created and curated by Eskandar.

What's next for the brand? First and foremost, e-commerce, mixed with the project he's recently acquired; a home in Tuscany, currently in ruins. He plans to restore the house and eventually outfit it with antique furniture he's been collecting. He confesses, "I have a weak spot for decrepit things, they are beautiful and I'm attracted to them." he says. "We don't have any plans for new boutiques right now, as from the start it's always been organic".
· Eskandar [Official Site]