Sugar Vintage: sweet fashion fusion from Emirates

Lisa Kaaki

Published — Wednesday 26 September 2012

Last update 29 September 2012 8:07 pm

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Sugar Vintage, a Dubai-based fashion label created in 2008 by Leila Al-Marashi and Hedaya Al-Rahma is creating a buzz in the Gulf region and beyond. Hollywood stars Carey Mulligan, Kelly Brook and Olivia Wilde have already been seen wearing Sugar Vintage, a daring fusion of 1940s fashion and Emirati traditions and culture.
“The perception of Emirati fashion is still very old school; the assumption is that we only design evening wear couture or abayas and there is a huge gap in homegrown brands designing ready-to-wear trendy clothes with good cuts and detail. Much emphasis is put on importing US or European brands, but we have so much creativity, great craftsmanship and quality in our region too” says Leila Al-Marashi.
Fashion has an insatiable appetite. It swings from winter collections to spring, back and forth, in a never ending movement. However, for the last years, women have been turning away from the high street constant changes and focusing on classic, exclusive ethnic and even vintage pieces.
Twenty years ago, vintage clothing was a niche concept but it has since gained momentum. Many fashionistas today possess a piece of vintage in their closet. A one-off vintage haute couture dress, by Yves Saint Laurent, Nina Ricci, Dior, Chanel, Jean Louis Scherrer or Christian Lacroix to name but a few, is traded like fine art in auction houses.
However, Sugar Vintage, despite its name, is not just about vintage. The brand is a regal mix of local influences such as ghutra fabric and dishdasha tassels, as well as Korean, Japanese and Chinese styles. Hedaya Al-Rahma’s owes her eclectic taste to her cosmopolitan upbringing. She lived in Singapore and Australia where her father was posted as a UAE diplomat. Hedaya acknowledges that she has been mostly influenced by Asia whereas Leila Al-Marashi credits London and France. Both women have mixed and fused these foreign influences with traditional aspects of Emirati culture. They believe that the key to their brand is keeping the Emirati identity alive. They have reinvented the ubiquitous abaya adding a modern twist and making it a desirable item to wear.
“The abaya is still as strong in the culture but the way people wear it has changed,” says Al-Marashi.
Sugar Vintage includes dresses, kaftans and T-shirts and is not targeting the Emiratis only. Al-Marashi wants to show the world that Sugar Vintage celebrates the authenticity of Emirati culture in a very tasteful, classy and even fun way. The brand is currently available in twelve countries including cities like Paris and Hong Kong.
A new generation of customers is looking for craft skills and designers who have total control on the brand. Sugar Vintage is not only all about that but it also produces clothes that women all over the world love to buy and wear. This collection of quirky, funky, kitschy and eclectic clothes is definitely fun to wear!

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