How Rabia Z built a modest fashion empire

1 / 3
Rabia Zargapur wearing her line’s organic linen abaya and signature breathable jersey hijab, the best-selling hijab in the world. (Irthi Contemporary Arts and Crafts Council)
2 / 3
Rabia Zargapur was one of a few designers selected to showcase a couture piece using Swarovski elements for the Swarovski Sparkling Couture Exhibition in Dubai. This piece is the ‘Revival of the Emirati Mukhawara Dress.’
3 / 3
Rabia Z’s head to toe demi-couture collection and signature jersey hijab are sold on Modanisa. (Rooful Ali)
Updated 22 August 2018
0

How Rabia Z built a modest fashion empire

  • Rabia Z. Zargarpur’s brand first came to life in 2002
  • To Zargarpur, modest fashion is more exciting than ever

DUBAI: Rabia Z. Zargarpur is a superwoman. Learning about her insane current schedule, one wonders when she finds the time to eat and sleep.
Business trips aside, the designer – the force behind the renowned modest fashion brand Rabia Z – has been focusing on the official launch of her Rabia Z Modest Fashion Academy, plus her online Rabia Z Mentorship Program. Then there’s her consulting work, rebranded Rabia Z launch and sustainable fashion collection.
“And of course, family time with my husband, entertaining our 6-year-old twins and our 14-year-old son, who are off for the summer,” the 40-year-old founder, CEO and creative director told Arab News. “So yeah, pretty much business as usual!”
Zargarpur’s brand first came to life in 2002, as one of the world’s first modest fashion, ready-to-wear e-commerce stores, a time when the industry certainly wasn’t as known as it is today.
“We were producing the basics line in Dubai and selling out of San Francisco from my grandfather’s garage,” the Emirati-Afghan-American explains. “We relaunched as a full-on designer brand back in Dubai, on runways in 2006, and won the Emerging Designer Award at Dubai Fashion Week in 2007.”
She went on to showcase modest fashion on mainstream runways and fashion weeks across cities including New York, London, Milan, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Buyers and customers certainly took notice – today, Rabia Z sells to 71 countries.
To Zargarpur, modest fashion is more exciting than ever. “It is finally ‘du jour,’” she exclaimed. “For me – (someone) who has tirelessly worked almost 18 years, the majority of it towards building awareness for this huge market at a time when neither this sector nor the term ‘modest fashion’ existed – I am happy to see it flourish globally.”
Now she predicts that it’s Saudi Arabia’s turn to fully embrace the market. “Saudi women have always been style savvy and with the major changes we’ve seen this year, we will see some of the styles and collections in the GCC come out of Saudi,” she said. “I think modest fashion will especially boom there next.”
Nonetheless, she admits that there remain challenges in the industry. “It’s a work in progress and lots needs improving,” she said. “We need more serious, true global brands that are professional and to the standards of major mainstream designer and retail brands. We need a more sustainable industry and ethical, eco-friendly brands.
“The supply chain is another area of improvement. We need labels that have a strong DNA and an innovative or creative direction which is currently lacking.”
Back to her own business, fans of Rabia Z have plenty to look forward to. “We have always been an ethical brand and always worked with breathable and sustainable fabrics, but upon the relaunch of Rabia Z next year, we would like to not only highlight that in our collections, but also adopt more variety of sustainable fabrics,” Zargarpur said, adding that there will be a separate roll out of Rabia Z Accessories.
She is continuing her collaboration with major online retailer Modanisa on Rabia Z’s licensed hijab line, its signature breathable, combed cotton jersey hijab wraps that are the best-selling hijab in the world. “(It) celebrates its 15th anniversary this year and is being exhibited at the Contemporary Muslim Fashion Exhibition in San Francisco this fall.”
On a personal level, Zargarpur aims to return to academia. “I was offered the opportunity to do a PhD in the Business of Fashion by the London College of Fashion, which I hope to pursue in the next couple of years, InshaAllah,” says Zargarpur, who already holds a business major with a minor in fashion. “In addition to having my PhD, I would like to see our flagship stores in key cities around the world someday, sitting alongside major brands.”
Yup, looks like she won’t be getting much sleep anytime soon.


Imaan Hammam gets colorful in Versace

Updated 22 September 2018
0

Imaan Hammam gets colorful in Versace

DUBAI: Italy’s Versace played with bold prints, patchwork and leather in its Spring/Summer 2019 women’s collection in a star-studded show on Friday, the third day of Milan’s fashion week.
Dutch-Moroccan-Egyptian model Imaan Hammam, who has walked for the fashion house before, took to the runway in an elaborated denim pantsuit emblazoned with Versace’s flagship prints in neon colors.

Imaan Hammam. (AFP)


Meanwhile, celebrity model Bella Hadid, who walked the show with sister Gigi, wore a tight one-shouldered mini dress in yellow leather and matching sneakers.
Singers Leona Lewis, Nicki Minaj and Rita Ora, model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, actor Luke Evans and Italian influencer Chiara Ferragni were all in the front row of an enormous industrial space in the modern CityLife neighborhood where the runway show was held, Reuters reported.

Bella Hadid. (AFP)


Pale yellow walls formed a background to a carpeted floor that echoed some of the prints used in the collection — colored stripes, bright flowers over pinstripes, checks, roses and small flowers mimicking animal prints.
“The style of the Versace woman is so recognizable that it need not be explained. She is not afraid of showing her personality and she is extremely feminine and confident,” read a style note by the fashion house, known for its daring designs.
Close-fitting silhouettes, ruched flared trousers and layered looks, with tulle mini-dresses paired with silk-printed longer ones, designed by Artistic Director and Vice President Donatella Versace, paraded down the catwalk in orange, violet and lime colors.

Gigi Hadid. (AFP)


“The all-over prints of the clothes are overlapped with neat nonchalance,” the note said.
For the evening, Versace flaunted a black satin tuxedo paired with flared trousers, or knee-length leather skirts with golden buttons.
Nineties supermodel Shalom Harlow closed the show, donning a long tulle dress with colorful flower embellishments that flared out in a transparent, sparkly black skirt.
Some of the models carried big boxed bags that echoed old-fashioned travel trunks, or large PVC shopping bags emblazoned with Versace writing. On their feet they wore chunky sneakers, college shoes, or square-heeled sandals, while their ears featured big flower-shaped ear-cuffs matched with hairpins.
The brand with the famed Medusa logo said that her “mystic powers and ever-powerful persona are evident now more than ever,” according to the show notes.
Fake snakeskin, flowers, polished leather and layer upon layer, the Versace collection was eclectic and refined, AFP noted in its review.