Established in New York in 1980 by the Lebanese American designer of the same name, Johnny Farah offers a range of high-end leather goods including handbags, belts, shoes and accessories.
Johnny Farah’s early influences came from Copenhagen. While living there in the 1970s, he developed a particular interest in the simplicity and practicality of Scandinavian architecture and furniture design. It was his life-changing encounters with architects like Arne Jacobsen and Hans Wegner that were the catalyst for Johnny’s decision to leave mechanical engineering school and concentrate on his design, which up until then was only a means to support his studies.
Johnny has also worked and lived in Beirut, New York and Istanbul. He opened his first boutique named “IF” after a British movie with the same name, in Beirut in the late 70s together with his sister Jeannette and Soha Farah.
Shortly after they opened another “IF” on West Broadway in SoHo, NYC that was one of the first designer clothing stores to open in the SoHo area and is still there today on Grand Street.
The Collections at “IF”, from some of the world’s most highly acclaimed European and Japanese designers continue to play a distinct role in the New York fashion scene.
Today, Johnny owns five IF shops in Beirut, New York and Dubai.
Throughout the 1990’s Johnny worked as the head accessories designer for a number of high-end labels including Cole Haan and Donna Karan.
Johnny now lives and works in Beirut where he operates his Johnny Farah leather workshops, owns an organic farm and 2 restaurants in which he frequently cooks and creates dishes.
Johnny Farah offers two main collections the Classic Collection sold online and at select stores around the world and the Atelier Collection sold exclusively in store at IF and other selected boutiques.
Classic Collection: “The Scandinavian look comes from Denmark where my design journey started; simple, practical, minimal hardware, vegetable tanned leather yet with an edgy design. The style is immediately recognizable as Johnny Farah by people who know me due to the simplicity of the handmade brass fitting and the beauty of the leather. Natural defect in the leather is usually apparent; with time the aging of the leather makes the bag hard to part with.” – Johnny Farah.
Atelier Collection: “The Atelier Collection is all about the freedom of the creative and artistic process. The designs are purely motivated by my esthetic tastes, with no consideration given to material or labor costs or any commercial constraints. All hand stitched, all artisanal fabrication, the line has a modern clean design and is not for the faint-hearted.” – Johnny Farah.
After many years of producing at different leather goods manufactures from around the world and specially from Spain, Brooklyn, Turkey, and Canada gaining experience in leather crafting and learning the sometimes age old techniques of the local artisan leather craftsmen, Johnny decided to move his production to Beirut, Lebanon to open his own workshops and combine this knowledge with the artisanal craftsmen that could still be found there.
Every piece is cut by hand from premium quality vegetable-tanned hides. Molded, glued, and sewn by the artisanal leather craftsmen to finish the style and bring the design to life.
The brass hardware is designed by Johnny Farah and is then hand-forged from high quality solid brass in a workshop specialized in metal working, custom made for each piece, giving more character to the product.
The result is a set of unique pieces belonging to a collection of meticulous craftsmanship and a distinct signature style.
The Leathers / Materials
Johnny Farah almost exclusively uses vegetable-tanned leathers. This guarantees a very beautiful aging of the leather with time.
The Process of vegetable-tanning uses tannins and other ingredients found in different vegetable matter, such as tree bark prepared in bark mills, wood, leaves, fruits, and roots. It is the ancient way to tan leathers and is eco-friendlier and has less negative impact on the environment versus the tanning of leathers involving heavy metals such as chrome and aluminum.
Because of this more natural process natural defects like scars and some discoloration is usually apparent but is considered as part of the design, giving more character and uniqueness to the product.
Our brass hardware is 100% solid brass that is hand forged in a specialized metal workshop and will also age nicely with time.