Welcome to a new era for regional and sustainable fashion.
As the fashion world increasingly leans towards sustainability and ethical practices, the Saudi luxury brand Abadia emerges as a forerunner, already deeply entrenched in these values. Shahd AlShehail envisions a future where her brand not only expands its global footprint but also continues to uplift and support the artisans at its core. "Our aim is to create sustainable employment for artisans, preserving their craftsmanship for future generations," she shares in an interview with Savoir Flair, highlighting the brand's commitment to cultural preservation and ethical luxury. The launch of Abadia on Net-A-Porter is a milestone for her and other regional talents, a testament to its commitment to ethical, culturally rich fashion in this day and age.
Your label combines feminine ease and aesthetics with a more masculine structure. How do you envision this unique aesthetic resonating with the global audience that Net-A-Porter attracts?
From the beginning, we have set out to establish Saudi luxury and craftsmanship as a serious player on the world stage. As we continue to grow the brand, our vision to be global has been validated by the positive and warm feedback we received from our growing community. We are so excited to launch Abadia for the Net-a-Porter customer and a greater global audience and feel confident that the timelessness of our pieces will resonate with them.
Abadia is the epitome of ethical luxury, focusing on garments as timeless investments. Could you delve deeper into the brand's sourcing and creating process? How do you ensure that each piece is ethically made?
As a luxury brand that is committed to being ethically run, it is important to us that in making decisions – big or small – we are guided by our core values and are transparent in how we do it. While we are not perfect, we do our best to improve and be honest and grounded in our approach. It starts with our choice of material. When using virgin fabrics, we utilize natural and organic fibers wherever possible and search for innovations like recycled fiber fur and recycled polyester. We also work a lot with luxury deadstock material and end-of-roll remnant fabric from garment manufacturing to maximize precious resources. This pushes us to be creative and conscious about using limited fabric pieces.
Regarding production, everything is sampled and produced in-house or by our partners in the UAE. We know each and every person working for the brand and ensure that they are remunerated fairly and treated well. Moreover, we are conscious of waste within our studio operations. We try to produce in limited numbers; some of our pieces are made to order, and we try to repurpose and transform cutoff materials into wearable products.
Abadia has worked hard to develop a strong and beautiful relationship with the artisans who create the details of our collection. We aim to generate sustainable employment for these women for years to come and preserve the craftsmanship and heritage of the region. All of this is grounded in a design philosophy that prioritizes timelessness over trends. We design for the Abadia woman who feels connected to the story of our brand and purchases pieces that she would cherish and hopefully pass on to the next generation.
The brand name Abadia draws inspiration from the Arabic words for 'desert' and 'timelessness,' evoking a strong cultural narrative. How do you see this cultural anchoring as an advantage as you make your mark on international markets?
As a brand, we use clothes as a vehicle for storytelling and impact. We genuinely believe that the cultural narrative of our region carries a strong and unique point of view that the world is beautifully curious about. Clothing has the power to tell the story of who we are and where we’ve come from, and we’re excited for a global audience to find a connection to our heritage and culture through our pieces.
As you expand your reach, what initiatives or collaborations are in the pipeline to continue celebrating culture and supporting craftsmanship on a global scale?
When it comes to craftsmanship, our aim is always to create a sustainable source of income for the artisans so they can preserve the craftsmanship for generations to come. We’re quite excited to see how embarking on our wholesale journey has had a trickle of effect and positive impact on the artisans. Some of our key pieces on Net-A-Porter feature their work. We see the increased production/demand supporting our goal of generating sustainable employment for these women for years to come as an expanded global audience experiences the impeccable craftsmanship from the region.