When you stroll through Mall of the Emirates or The Dubai Mall, have you ever wondered how it came about that the largest luxury brands and retail stores in the world have a presence there? Al Tayer Group has been a catalyst for luxury brands entering the Middle East since 1979 – meaning if you are Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana, or any other top tier brand in Al Tayer’s portfolio, you approached the group in order to have it handle your Middle East operations.
In addition to introducing the aforementioned brands into the regional market, Al Tayer is likewise responsible for the opening of retail giants Harvey Nichols – Dubai, Bloomingdale’s-Dubai, and Macy’s (2018) in the region. The nature of a retail-oriented, multi-division conglomerate is usually to diversify its portfolio by investing in luxury brands by buying shares in them. For instance, Qatar Investment Authority has spent the past several years increasing its stake in the luxury sector, investing in hotels like Four Seasons Hotel Firenze and, more recently, the legendary Parisian maison Balmain.
However, the investor philosophy of Qatar Investment Authority is not shared by Al Tayer, which prefers to build equity in its partnerships with brands by conducting their entry into the Middle East via franchise agreements. Since Al Tayer has been instrumental in advancing the luxury sector in the region, it seems only natural that the group’s next step would be to create its own luxury retail platform.
This week, Khalid Al Tayer, CEO of Al Tayer Insignia and recognized member of the Business of Fashion 500, announced the launch of Ounass.com, the region’s first luxury e-commerce brand. The dual-language digital retail site, which launches today, serves the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, with plans for further expansion across the Middle East.
In a statement to the press, Al Tayer said, “Ounass.com offers the Middle Eastern customer relevant merchandise and content shot locally and created specifically for her lifestyle, together with a service promise unparalleled by any other regional e-tailer. The site will take her on a seamless personalized journey, where she will always discover the right product, including a constant offering of unique capsule collections and special pieces developed by our partners to satisfy her need for exclusivity.”
The unique capsule collections available on Ounass.com are perhaps its most intriguing feature, as Al Tayer orchestrated that the collections be exclusively created for the site and, therefore, the Middle Eastern customer. So far, Gucci, Roland Mouret, Rami Al Ali, Ayesha Depala, and many others are debuting their exclusive capsule collections on the website, with new versions arriving every month.
This means that Ounass.com is the only place you can find coveted pieces from your favorite brands, thereby adding another layer of exclusivity to its offering. In addition to this feature, Ounass.com is also offering free delivery in two hours or less within Dubai, and same-day delivery in the UAE. Residents outside of the UAE will benefit from two-day shipping, and the site will offer cash-on-delivery options, in-home personal styling, and plenty more.
In an exclusive interview with Savoir Flair, Maria Gold Knudsen, Head of Style & Editorial Content at Al Tayer Group, stated, “Ounass, for me, is the definitive home of luxury within our region. We are working with the international and regional fashion scene’s best brands and are continuously adding to our portfolio with new exciting and directional brands.
“The fact that on a monthly basis, we will be offering exclusive items or capsule collections carefully curated to our regional customer, who our buyers know so well, is very exciting for me from a styling point of view as it makes it very easy to put together a very relevant but unique and exclusive wardrobe for our customer – whether it’s a wedding, Eid, or vacation outfit she is looking for.”
Knudsen, who has worked previously as a fashion editor at retail publications at The Outnet, Net-a-Porter, and other sites, will oversee editorial content – one of Ounass’ biggest strengths. Knudsen shared her vision, saying, “Editorial content will be key for Ounass to showcase our outstanding product range to our customers. We will be focusing on great photography, fantastic writing, and styling that is tailored to the ‘Ounass Woman’. We will be talking to and with women from the region, and we want to highlight the incredibly savvy and influential women that we have in this part of the world.”