Rana Nakhal Solset on Bridging the Gap Between Luxury & Function
By Muchaneta Kapfunde – Dec 2, 2016
Emel + Aris has been on our radar for quite a while now. Founded in 2015 to bridge the gap between fashion and function, Emel + Aris is a life-enhancing ‘wearable technology’ brand that continues to grace our ‘Ones to Watch’ list. So it was with glee that I confirmed my appointment with founder Rana Nakhal Solset. Knowing how time consuming the #StartUpLife can be I was happy that Rana found some time in her busy schedule to pencil me in for a cup of coffee and a chat.
Turning up at French bistro The Colbert in Sloane Square, I was met by a glamourous woman with a welcoming smile. Before I could sit down, she had me put aside my Cos coat to try her Emel + Aris cashmere coat. As I slid it on, I sighed with satisfaction. So this is what wearing a handsome luxurious coat feels like? It was in that moment that I was suddenly hit by a wave of warmth. It was a lovely feeling. Like being hugged. Having done some research before hand, I knew that the coat was integrated with a revolutionary heating technology that uses a lightweight, inert polymer instead of wires. It produces FIR (far infrared) heat energy that is absorbed by the skin to heat the muscles and increase blood flow.
As I stroked the soft sleeves, Rana explained that the coat that I was unashamedly drooling over was actually a prototype. The final coat was going to be a much better version of the one I was wearing. A coat better than this? Well, I would have to see that to believe it.
As I reluctantly gave the coat back, we both sat down and ordered our preferred drinks, mine a full fat latte, Rana’s a rather healthy looking tea. As I sipped my coffee, the conversation between Rana and I flowed naturally. I found myself constantly laughing at the stories she told about her journey. Within fifteen minutes, Rana had quickly become one of my favorite people within the fashion tech realm and this is why…
WHAT IS YOUR CAREER BACKGROUND?
I studied for my MA in Paris. I loved living in Paris, it was beautiful. Following my studies I worked in publishing, in the luxury sector, mainly in advertising, for a number of years before my light bulb moment.
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR LIGHTBULB MOMENT?
Well firstly let me say that I am not a fashion designer, I simply want to fulfil a need. Emel + Aris was an idea that popped into my head when I was about to make a trip to the North Pole. It was the kind of trip where a beautiful coat with the kind of tech that had the ability to keep the wearer warm would have been appreciated. I knew such a coat would have been a great addition to my wardrobe choices. Why? Because it would have saved me packing different coats for different occasions. That was the moment when I knew that a luxury wardrobe staple like a smart classic coat would be a great investment for women who know what they want.
HOW DID YOU ENVISION YOURSELF ACHIEVING THIS?
The idea was to take the technology and put it into a beautiful cashmere coat. I quickly found out that what I wanted was easily said but not so easily done. It wasn’t long before I started to face the kind of challenges that I am sure many creatives merging fashion and technology face. I face them still. The thing is I want to divide and conquer. I embrace that my journey so far with Emel + Aris has been one big learning experience. I have been able to make things possible that I was once told was impossible.
Well battery size for one. I did not expect that the battery that I had to design around was going to be so humongous. For me it was simply not an option. It was through sheer perseverance that I was able to shrink it down to an acceptable size. I understand the luxury world, and the luxury world would not have accepted such a big battery.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR COLLECTION?
We are a luxury lifestyle brand. The Emel + Aris collection is comprised of 4 coats. Two for women- a wrap and a trench- and two for men- a Mac and an overcoat. Manufactured in the UK our coats are definitely investment pieces that are not only seasonless but also put value in keeping you warm and looking good. I am confident that the style of our coats will easily fit into anyone’s wardrobe choices.
WHY ONLY SUCH FEW PIECES?
I would rather produce a few styles of coats that sell out rather than offer a lot choices that mean that I end up with a lot of stock that did not sell.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS EMEL + ARIS U.S.P?
I think that our customers appreciate the fact that they can switch of the battery should they no longer want their coat to warm them up. I think that this is a great perk. It gives the wearer option of on or off.