Find out why designer Nasiba Hafiz is taking Saudi fashion to new heights

Nasiba Hafiz is a Saudi designer with a difference. (Photograph by: Iman Al-Dabbagh)
Updated 20 December 2017
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Find out why designer Nasiba Hafiz is taking Saudi fashion to new heights

JEDDAH: Jeddah-based fashion designer Nasiba Hafiz is a rare gem in Saudi Arabia. Her bold prints, asymmetric designs, colorful motifs and minimalist approach have all combined to form the foundation of a fresh take on fashion in the country.
Gone are the days of excess colors, florals and sequins, fashion in the country has taken a more modern, simple and sophisticated turn — and some fashion insiders believe Hafiz is at the helm of the ship.
Arab News sat down with Hafiz in her wonderfully-eccentric living room, the walls of which were covered in an unconventional array of beautiful pictures and posters garnered from her travels abroad. Her avant-garde home is a reflection of her style, as well as her art-and-fashion-savvy family’s influence.
“I design what I feel. It’s a process that isn’t easy, especially with the growing market, but I take into consideration what is missing here. You’ll always find pieces suitable for the growing teen, the 20-something, the 30-something and even the 40-something that are looking to find comfortable, chic pieces for their wardrobe. I’m in tune with my designs and they reflect what I sense around me. I experiment with everything, I’ll never restrict myself,” Hafiz told Arab News.

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Her take on fashion is a reminder that a designer’s main purpose is to reflect their personal style in their creations.
“You lose your sense if you follow what clients want. Abayas and kaftans sell fast here but that’s not what I want. I can play a small role in adding to this category in my own way with my Moroccan line and the ‘Love’ abayas, but that’s about it. That’s not what I can do. A good designer will not succumb to the pressure, you simply accommodate with the standards you’ve set for yourself. You have to find a balance and the best part of being a designer is having a good support base who look for your designs, who want to purchase them because they’re different, because they’re unique.
“If you’re a slave to the industry then you’re going to have to do what everyone wants you to do,” she added.
She is a firm believer in making the best of what you have. Instead of relocating abroad to a country where the fashion design base is more established, she decided to stay, not only for family reasons, but also because she believes that local support is what will make designers strive. This has not stopped her from creating her own pop-up fashion displays in Tokyo, Los Angeles, Dubai and London, showcasing some of her lines, however. She has also had a number of collaborations with various designers throughout the years — a fun way to spice things up and create even more interesting garments.
One aspect of Hafiz’s designs that is particularly interesting is the fact that she enlists the help of women tailors from non-profit center, Nesma Embroidery. The entity employs and trains Saudi Arabia-based women, many of whom have special needs requirements or are speech and hearing impaired. Their mission is to create a local industry that employs women in sewing and embroidery, something that Hafiz feels strongly about.
What makes Hafiz’s collection fun is how exceptional each piece is — you can always find a garment to suit your current mood and spirit. The fabrics are light and versatile and have a feminine feel to them, making them wearable and easy to pair with other items of clothing.
Given that the interview took place in Hafiz’s home, you can see how she became intrigued and interested in the world of home décor as well as fashion. She has a keen eye for detail and her home features some rare items. Her furniture is a representation of her eccentric style and love for vivid colors. From the black-and-white tiles to the iconic Martinique wallpaper depicting banana leaves, famously seen at the Beverly Hills Hotel, her Greek-Mediterranean style outdoor pool area and classic china coffee cups, everything is perfectly curated. There is a strong love and appreciation for vintage pieces apparent in both her fashion label as well as her home, but she has a special place in her heart for one particular type of home accessory.
“Home décor has been a hobby of mine for a long time and candles are significant to every home. They add a sense of calmness and spice to any home. A person’s scent is one of their own and while perfumes are special, candles are, and have always been, a staple of any home. I want to continue creating home items and adding something of my own creation in people’s homes, as well as their closets,” she said of her homeware line.
Hafiz’s taste in fashion and styling is a fresh, more laid back and easy style than what is typically found in Saudi Arabia. It takes a creative and innovative designer to go bold and break the rules, as well as bravery and lots of love to achieve and accomplish what this creative powerhouse has done with her fashion house.


Fashion capital New York considers banning sale of fur

Updated 17 April 2019
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Fashion capital New York considers banning sale of fur

  • Lawmakers are pushing a measure that would ban the sale of all new fur products in the city
  • “Cruelty should not be confused with economic development,” a sponsor of the legislation said

NEW YORK: A burgeoning movement to outlaw fur is seeking to make its biggest statement yet in the fashion mecca of New York City.
Lawmakers are pushing a measure that would ban the sale of all new fur products in the city where such garments were once common and style-setters including Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Joe Namath and Sean “Diddy” Combs have all rocked furs over the years.
A similar measure in the state Capitol in Albany would impose a statewide ban on the sale of any items made with farmed fur and ban the manufacture of products made from trapped fur.
Whether this is good or bad depends on which side of the pelt you’re on. Members of the fur industry say such bans could put 1,100 people out of a job in the city alone. Supporters dismiss that and emphasize that the wearing of fur is barbaric and inhumane.
“Cruelty should not be confused with economic development,” said state Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat from Manhattan, who is sponsoring the state legislation. “Fur relies on violence to innocent animals. That should be no one’s business.”
The fate of the proposals could be decided in the coming months, though supporters acknowledge New York City’s measure has a better chance of passage than the state legislation.
The fur trade is considered so important to New York’s development that two beavers adorn the city’s official seal, a reference to early Dutch and English settlers who traded in beaver pelts.
At the height of the fur business in the last century, New York City manufactured 80% of the fur coats made in the U.S, according to FUR NYC, a group representing 130 retailers and manufacturers in the city. The group says New York City remains the largest market for fur products in the country, with real fur still frequently used as trim on coats, jackets and other items.
If passed, New York would become the third major American city with such a ban, following San Francisco, where a ban takes effect this year, and Los Angeles, where a ban passed this year will take effect in 2021.
Elsewhere, Sao Paulo, Brazil, began its ban on the import and sale of fur in 2015. Fur farming was banned in the United Kingdom nearly 20 years ago, and last year London fashion week became the first major fashion event to go entirely fur-free.
Fur industry leaders warn that if the ban passes in New York, emboldened animal rights activists will want more.
“Everyone is watching this,” said Nancy Daigneault, vice president at the International Fur Federation, an industry group based in London. “If it starts here with fur, it’s going to go to wool, to leather, to meat.”
When asked what a fur ban would mean for him, Nick Pologeorgis was blunt: “I’m out of business.”
Pologeorgis’ father, who emigrated from Greece, started the fur design and sales business in the city’s “Fur District” nearly 60 years ago.
“My employees are nervous,” he said. “If you’re 55 or 50 and all you’ve trained to do is be a fur worker, what are you going to do?“
Supporters of the ban contend those employees could find jobs that don’t involve animal fur, noting that an increasing number of fashion designers and retailers now refuse to sell animal fur and that synthetic substitutes are every bit as convincing as the real thing.
They also argue that fur retailers and manufacturers represent just a small fraction of an estimated 180,000 people who work in the city’s fashion industry and that their skills can readily be transferred.
“There is a lot of room for job growth developing ethically and environmentally friendly materials,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who introduced the city measure.
New Yorkers asked about the ban this week came down on both sides, with some questioning if a law was really needed.
“It is a matter of personal choice. I don’t think it’s something that needs to be legislated,” said 44-year-old Janet Thompson. “There are lots of people wearing leather and suede and other animal hides out there. To pick on fur seems a little one-sided.”
Joshua Katcher, a Manhattan designer and author who has taught at the Parsons School of Design, says he believes the proposed bans reflect an increased desire to know where our products come from and for them to be ethical and sustainable.
“Fur is a relic,” he said.