Since its launch in 2016, Bulgarian brand By Far has reined supreme on our Instagram feeds and continues to be one of the most sought-after labels.
But its founders, twin sisters Sabina Gyosheva and Valentina Bezuhanova and their best friend and sister-in-law Denitsa Bumbarova, didn’t have influencing in mind when they were initially inspired to create their line.
“We design for ourselves. We consider ourselves super basic and we get obsessed with things,” Sabina explains, shedding some light on their late '90s and early Noughties aesthetic.
And while “basic” isn’t the word we would use to describe By Far, the fact that its founders don’t take themselves too seriously elevates the brand’s cool credentials even higher.
“It was either super, super cheap and low quality or really, really expensive,” adds Valentina. “There was nothing in the middle that was comfy but luxurious and affordable, so it was kind of an inspiration from a business point of view, but personally we felt that there was nothing for us.”
However, affordability isn’t the brand’s main motivation and Denitsa explains that a commitment to being sustainable has inadvertently allowed them to keep their prices low, without compromising on quality, finish or design.
“I think it’s a must, it’s not optional and brands that don’t realise that already are in big trouble,” she says. “In the beginning we always tried to make the most sustainable decisions and now it’s not difficult at all. We’re not forcing ourselves to be sustainable; it’s just naturally how it is. But we’re always trying to make it even better.”
In practical terms, this means using dead stock Italian leather, essentially left-over leather, to create each piece, and the brand also employs local, family-owned factories which use solar panels for energy and water-based glue to ensure eco-friendly practices from start to finish.
In a sense, By Far is rewriting the handbook in every way on what it takes to successfully launch and run a profitable fashion brand - part of its truly millennial mindset is the way it has utilised social media to quickly gain traction and essentially launch the brand on the global stage without a vast marketing budget, cultivating a community of fans that includes Kendall Jenner, the Hadid sisters and Hailey Baldwin to name just a few.
“We never paid anyone to promote us on social media. We are based in Sofia, Bulgaria, which is not a fashion capital and we had no fashion background, so we understood that once we launched the only way to communicate was digitally through social media,” Sabina explains of By Far’s online success.
Within two month of launch, the brand had attracted the attention of fashion buyers and editors, and Valentina, Sabrina and Denitsa realised early on that in order to survive, and thrive, in an at times crowded digital space, they needed to remain authentic.
“To be honest our Instagram was terrible back then, it was the most terrible pictures but then we took it seriously and became more serious about visuals. Everything is organic. It’s about communicating within our community and friends and Instagram is the main channel to do that,” Valentina continues.
The trio also relies on gut instinct to navigate their way every season, even if that means going against popular opinion.
“We do the collections six months in advance and when we launched the bags every buyer and editor was like, ‘Oh I’m not sure about the '90s, I’m not sure if the client is ready for that’. But we were so obsessed about it and when we launched, it sold out in two weeks so I guess the customer was ready. It’s better to trust your heart and whatever you’re obsessed about.”
“We’re like sisters,” Denitsa offers. “If you don’t like something, you can tell it to your sister because she’s the closest and she doesn’t take it personally. Maybe you wouldn’t say something to an outside person, but they will tell you in a loving way. For us, it’s all about the love.”