DAS: From a small UAE store to London Fashion Week

Rima Al-Mukhtar

Published — Wednesday 28 November 2012

Last update 30 November 2012 4:23 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

DAS is a well-known Emerati fashion house that now features at the London Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week. The brand can now be found in Harrods department store in London.
DAS is an acronym for Daffa, Abba and Suwaieya — the three main types of abaya worn in the Gulf region. The logo of the brand is a triangle shape and it is made from these words written in Arabic calligraphy.
Two Emerati sisters stand proudly behind this brand: Reem and Hind Baljafla. They were both born and raised in Dubai and studied in London establishing their business in Dubai in 2008.
Each year DAS designs a minimum of four main collections — Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter abayas, and Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter Ready-to-Wear.
“In between these four main collections we also do Resort collections and Eid collections. We have to keep releasing new pieces regularly as our clients always want to see something fresh,” said Reem Baljafla, co-founder and designer of DAS.
“My style of fashion is elegant; I would say timelessly classic, and of course always conservative. My sister Hind’s style is very different — her style is more casual, fun and daring. The blend of both our personalities and fashion senses is part of what makes DAS so special,” she added.
Comparing the Saudi design market and the UAE abaya design market Baljafla said the Saudi market is certainly very interesting. “All the Saudi ladies I know are extremely stylish and have a great sense of fashion,” she said. “However, we have to be a little bit more careful with our designs for the Saudi market as they tend not to be quite so experimental with their abayas as we are in the UAE.”
Baljafla studied interior design but was always interested in fashion.
“When Hind and I moved back to Dubai after university, we felt that there weren’t any designers catering to women like us who wanted to express our fashion sense through our abayas,” she said. “We started off by designing our own pieces for ourselves to wear to events, experimenting with colors, cuts and embellishments. Our designs got such great feedback that we soon had a client base and made a business out of it.”
The designers use all manner of fabrics for their pieces.
“Anything from silk to velvet. It depends on the season and the style of the piece,” she said. “For the majority of our everyday abayas we use a special mixed fabric imported from Hong Kong, which is designed to be soft, lightweight and breathable to maximize comfort in our hot climate.”
Any DAS collection clearly features a blend between culture and modern. “When we first started out, we were really the pioneers when it came to redesigning the abaya and making it fashionable. Most importantly, whilst we do push the boundaries, is that we always remain respectful to our culture and the traditions of the abaya,” said Baljafla. “Our abayas can be colorful and have interesting embroidery, embellishments and designs, but they are always conservative and appropriate.”
Baljafla believes that ladies who choose to wear DAS are confident and very fashion-conscious. She intends for them to feel special, stylish and unique when wearing DAS designs.
Inspiration for a new line can strike Baljafla at any moment. “It can come from nature, the landscape and environment around me, a piece of artwork or anything,” she said. “Mainly I get inspired from my travels around the world. My eyes are always open to new sights.”
Working on a new DAS collection starts many months in advance, as it is a very time-consuming process. “I usually start from a spark of inspiration, which guides me to a theme. Then I consult the Pantone color chart for the coming season, sketch some ideas and start putting the first round of designs into production,” she said. “Once these prototypes are brought to life on a mannequin or on a live model, I can make my adjustments to perfect the designs.”
The Baljafla girls are currently putting the Spring/Summer 2013 Ready-to-Wear collection into production, having showed it on the catwalk at London Fashion Week in September.
DAS designers are very specific on whom to work with when it comes to photographers and models. “We have some models and photographers we like to work with regularly, as they understand our look and what we expect from them,” said Baljafla. “It’s good to build a strong relationship with models and photographers as they play a huge part in the image of your brand.”
For the London Fashion Week shows they selected models at castings with the top model agencies, and they flew in supermodel Alek Wek from New York to model for them.
According to Baljafla, it is not essential to have strong sewing skills to be a good designer. “As long as you have the vision to design, and you can convey it accurately to your team in order for them to create the design, that is the main thing,” she said. “Of course it’s important to have a deep understanding of fabrics and how a design can be put together. But when it comes to physically sewing a piece, I don’t think you’ll find many of the top designers doing it themselves.”
Baljafla would love to dress Sheikha Moaza of Qatar, as she is such a style icon. “Also Princess Ameera Al-Taweel — a true beauty and inspiration,” she said. “Internationally, I’d love to see Angelina Jolie wearing DAS because she often wears full-length on the red carpet. I think she could look very elegant in our designs.”
The Spring/Summer 2013 collection was inspired from the mixture of Arabic and Indian style. “We used a lot of heavy gold beading, rich strong colors, chiffons and embroidered fabrics detailed with Arabic calligraphy,” said Baljafla. “Our designs sends a message that you can combine dressing conservatively and respectfully and keep up with the latest fashion styles at the same time.”
DAS is known to be the first to really update the abaya and align it with international fashion trends. “Our designs appeal to both Muslims and non-Muslims and we have many western clients, not just Middle Eastern,” said Baljafla. “We are also famous for our signature cut, which is flattering on all body shapes.”
The next step for DAS is to continue expanding internationally, show at more international fashion weeks and increase the number of overseas stockists. The designers are working toward making the abaya or the ‘conservative black dress’ a worldwide trend.
DAS is stocked at Harrods in London, Symphony at The Dubai Mall, SAKS Fifth Avenue, Harvey Nichols Dubai and various other stores around the GCC. They look forward to increasing their stockists in Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia over the next year.
DAS’s Spring/Summer 2013 Ready-to-Wear collection debuted at London Fashion Week and will be released early 2013, so stay tuned.

Email: [email protected]

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Abdul Salam bin Saleh Al-Rajhi Foundation has announced it will continue to support non-Saudi patients undergoing dialysis due to renal problems.Saleh Al-Rajhi, the foundation’s secretary-general, said that the “program is in accordance w...
JEDDAH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal has ordered the formation of a committee comprising government representatives to speed up public transport projects. Prince Faisal unveiled the monthly report on Monday related to Jeddah transport and to f...
JEDDAH: The police in Al-Awamiya village, Qatif Province, have arrested a man suspected of killing a young Saudi in June.The man was injured during his arrest after exchanging fire with police officers, said Col. Ziyad bin Abdulwahab Al-Ruqaiti, spok...
DAMMAM: A call has gone out to change the behavior of drivers, even as it was revealed during the launch of a traffic exhibition that road accidents claimed 2,599 lives and resulted in 8,036 injuries, mostly involving youths, during the last Hijri ye...
RIYADH: A scintillating concert featuring one of the oldest boys’ choirs, who sang classical masterpieces and holiday favorites, left a large group of elite audience spellbound here Monday night. The audience’s eyes were especially glued to the make...
RIYADH: The Consumer Protection Society (CPA) has announced that it would defend parents if private schools access their credit records without permission.In a statement released recently, the CPA’s spokesman Abdulrahman Al-Qahtani said that while it...
RIYADH: Shoura Council will host a two-day meeting of the heads of legislative bodies from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in Riyadh beginning Wednesday to further bolster the mutual cooperation. “The council has called a consultative me...
RIYADH: The Argentinian Embassy hosted a welcome reception on Monday night for Carlos Zapata, Peru’s new envoy in the Kingdom.Argentinian Ambassador Jaime Sergio Cerda said: “The occasion intends to bolster ties among diplomats from South America and...
JUBAIL: The Urdu Lovers Club Jubail (Gosha-e-Adab) celebrated the launch of a book of poetry by Dr. Sajjad Syed from Delhi here recently.The launch of the work, entitled “Kuch Kaar-e-Sukhan Aur,” was attended by prominent members of the expatriate co...
RIYADH: The Kingdom’s government has launched several efforts to counter attacks on its integrity recently, according to the Interior Ministry.However, Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman of the ministry, said there should be greater steps taken to...
DAMMAM: The International Indian School-Dammam (IISD) recently organized EduEx 2015, an educational exhibition. The day is also observed as Children’s Day in India.Every year, IISD organizes this type of exhibition section-wise. This year, it was org...
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is making significant headway in countering human trafficking, according to a report released recently by the US State Department. According to statistics, trafficking in Saudi Arabia is limited compared to the population of the...
JEDDAH: The Special Criminal Court has sentenced a citizen to 15 years in jail and a travel ban for an equal period, for helping to organize and participate in rallies against the state.The court found him guilty of taking photographs of these events...
RIYADH: The Cabinet approved on Monday the Shoura Council's decision to impose an annual 2.5 percent fee on undeveloped urban land designated for residential or commercial use, a major step in addressing a shortage of housing and developing the tax s...
RIYADH: A SR1 million reward has been offered to anyone providing information that could lead to the whereabouts of a two-year-old girl kidnapped in Riyadh.Juri Al-Khaldi was kidnapped inside a clinic on Riyadh’s busy Khurais Road on Friday afternoon...

Events & Exhibitions

Stay Connected