Over the years and with the tireless effort of creatives, entrepreneurs, and the business sector, the UAE has emerged as a hotbed of innovative fashion design. From streetwear to couture, the range of what our country is capable of should be a source of pride, especially as we head into National Day celebrations. Savoir Flair has always stayed at the forefront of fashion in the Middle East, which is why the top 10 homegrown brands on our list have had our support since day one – and will continue to in the future.
Madiyah Al Sharqi
Madiyah Al Sharqi’s eponymous brand is based in Fujairah and was launched in 2012. She is known for her lavish designs and uber-feminine aesthetic, which is usually translated by a palette of dreamy pastels and luxurious fabrics. Her work quickly caught on regionally and internationally, and is now stocked at retailers like Symphony and Moda Operandi. In 2016, Al Sharqi expanded her vision beyond confectionery eveningwear to include a smart, stunning line-up of daywear, and has been experimenting with a more earthy palette as of late.
Nathalie Trad is undoubtedly one of the region’s biggest fashion success stories. Since the launch of her eponymous clutch label in 2013, she has been heaped with international acclaim. Dozens of celebrities – Olivia Palermo and Sienna Miller included – have not only named her their favorite clutch designer, but also proudly sport her wares on the daily. Her sculptural, glossy aesthetic results in accessories that are works of art, and her latest collection is no exception.
An Emirati streetwear label is not something you see everyday, but Buka is here to change things up. Led by entrepreneurs Anas Bukhash and Harith Bukhash, the brand’s aesthetic targets both male and female urban youth with clothes that put a cool twist on the classics. Made right here in the UAE and stocked currently at Ounass, Buka really puts the “local” in shopping locally.
Nafsika Skourti first landed on our radar years ago at Fashion Forward, where her energetic and youthful collection reinforced the idea that streetwear has a viable voice in the UAE. The young designer’s cleverly crafted collections resonate deeply with the politically and culturally savvy, and have helped her gain international recognition in major fashion publications worldwide.
Many in the rest of the world think Middle Eastern fashion equates to traditional abayas, making it challenging to rise above perceptions (and misconceptions). Faiza Bouguessa of Bouguessa is one designer who is revolutionizing the way the rest of the world sees fashion in our region, and she is doing it by cleverly reinventing the abaya. In fact, her designs are so compelling that even Beyoncé is a fan. What sets her work apart is the impeccable tailoring and rich fabrics, which make her menswear-inspired designs hang beautifully on the body.
Reemami, the brand launched by Reema Al Banna in 2009, is one of our favorites because of its strong feminist stance. Reemami is known for its quirky, whimsical prints, but behind each artistic scene is a message about the strength of women and the designer’s own active lifestyle. We are more than excited to see her brand grow and reach a new audience as the young designer continues to expand her creative reach.
Although Taller Marmo was only launched in 2013 by designers Riccardo Audisio and Yago Goicoechea, the results were fast for this young Dubai-based brand. In two short years, their work was recognized by the International Woolmark Prize when they won the regional portion of the competition and flew to New York to represent the UAE with a gorgeous six-piece capsule collection. Modernity is a driving force behind their aesthetic, leading them to update traditional suiting with festive prints or tufts of feathers, thereby providing a unique and luxurious wardrobe for the working woman of today.
While a flirty, youthful silhouette acts as a support structure for Mochi collections, it is Ayah Tabari’s kaleidoscopic prints and embroidery that have really carved an identity for her brand. Her designs are inspired by and named after locations that Tabari has visited, and her travels act as both a signpost for her work and a resource for finding artisans to help craft her clothing. What’s so unique about Mochi is the timeless nature of each collection – each one is “seasonless” and always available. This means you can still purchase from past collections like ‘Jaipur’ and ‘Thailand’.
As an artist, photographer, and designer, Nadine Kanso’s primary concern is in showcasing and reflecting the identity of the contemporary Arab. This thesis is found throughout her work, but nowhere as strongly as her Bil Arabi jewelry line. Every piece that she creates carries with it a message, with rings and earrings that come in the shape of Arabic words or letters. They’re both exquisite works of art and identity signifiers that everyone from regional fashion girls to supermodels Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner love to wear.
Regional “It” girl Lilian Afshar sought fulfillment from the world of fashion, and she solidified her status as one of the region’s best designers when she launched her gorgeous box clutch label L’Afshar in 2014. Her marble and bug designs were instant hits, but as the brand has grown, so has Afshar’s artistry. While some local labels never make it beyond the UAE, L’Afshar is stocked around the world, has been recognized in international fashion publications, and is a favorite of celebrities like Beyoncé.