Startup of the Week: Galag — redefining Saudi fashion

Startup of the Week: Galag — redefining Saudi fashion
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Updated 05 April 2021

Startup of the Week: Galag — redefining Saudi fashion

Startup of the Week: Galag — redefining Saudi fashion
  • The brand was not originally sold in Saudi, but the co-founders wanted to release it in the Kingdom as a pop-up

JEDDAH: Sultan bin Mohammad, a 33-year-old entrepreneur, co-founded the fashion brand Galag with Talal bin Mohammad.

Galag started off as a merchandise store and from there developed into the clothing brand that it is today.

“In 2017 we just kept on launching different collections,” Sultan said.

Sultan believes that what makes Galag stand out from other clothing lines is that it is always striving to find something new, with experimentation a core part of the brand.

“Every time we create something we try to elevate the previous pieces, we are always trying to expand the brand image by using better fabrics and better manufacturing.”

The entrepreneur loves fashion and it is the prime source of his motivation. “I keep my eyes open and look at all kinds of fashion, whether it is originating from Korea, Japan or Europe, and then figure out how do I put my own twist on it. When the product comes together, the satisfaction of looking at this new product is what keeps me going.”

The business venture has not been without its challenges, Sultan said.

“The first challenge is getting eyes on the brand when so many people are starting brands and many are doing a good job with it as well. The challenge is to put your brand through and see if it connects with people.”

Another challenge that the entrepreneur has experienced is the financial side of the business. He said that people investing in a startup needed to be OK with it not returning profits for a few years. “A lot of the clothing brands in the first couple of years don’t continue because they aren’t seeing the return.”

The brand was not originally sold in Saudi, but the co-founders wanted to release it in the Kingdom as a pop-up. “Our designs weren’t necessarily similar to what a Saudi brand is, it was different, and we had to explain to them that we are a Saudi brand. To my surprise, people were amused by the details and they understood the style and what we were trying to portray.”

People buying their products was all the motivation the brand needed to start selling in Saudi Arabia, he said, and now there are plans for further expansion.

The future will be built on attention to detail and creativity, Sultan said, with each piece designed with precision.

“I want to create such products that the customers will have a product for each day, my aim is to create clothes that look good on their own but also add personality when incorporated in an outfit.”

 


US actress, mogul Jessica Alba shows off Arab labels in New York

Jessica Alba showed off a pair of earrings by Lebanese-Brazilian fine jeweler Ana Khouri. (Getty Images)
Jessica Alba showed off a pair of earrings by Lebanese-Brazilian fine jeweler Ana Khouri. (Getty Images)
Updated 11 May 2021

US actress, mogul Jessica Alba shows off Arab labels in New York

Jessica Alba showed off a pair of earrings by Lebanese-Brazilian fine jeweler Ana Khouri. (Getty Images)

DUBAI: US actress and business mogul Jessica Alba showed off a pair of dainty heels by Lebanese designer Andrea Wazen and accessories by part-Arab jewelry designer Ana Khouri while out and about in New York last week.

The actress — who is also the co-founder of the billion-dollar home care business The Honest Company — was in New York to visit NASDAQ headquarters for the IPO of her company.

Later, she was spotted walking in Manhattan and even appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” wearing a pair of dainty rose-colored mules by Wazen.

Alba showed off the Denver mesh mules in pink, which feature a translucent upper, thin ankle strap and elegant pointed toe shape. The heels complemented a dark sage green bag by Celine and a greige trench coat-and-sheath dress combination.

The entrepreneur and actress wore a pair of pink heels by Andrea Wazen. (Getty Images)

Wazen isn’t the only Arab designer Alba flaunted while out and about in New York. She attended the IPO of her company wearing chunky gold statement earrings by Lebanese-Brazilian fine jeweler Ana Khouri. 

New York-based Khouri has seen her pieces worn by everyone from Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron to Karlie Kloss and Alicia Vikander.

Wazen is also no stranger to celebrity fans, and has seen her designs sported by the likes of actress Gabrielle Union-Wade, model Ashley Graham, Katy Perry, Kylie Jenner and Jennifer Lopez during her “It’s My Party World Tour” in 2019.

The shoe designer is fresh off a win at the Footwear News (FN) Achievement Awards in December, nabbing the Emerging Talent prize.

“What a feeling… I cannot explain the joy and satisfaction I am feeling,” she wrote at the time, before thanking Michael Atmore, chief brand officer and the director of the event, for recognizing her as this year’s emerging talent, stylist Jill Jacobs for presenting her with the award and her team, who she said she couldn’t have “accomplished any of this” without.

“Last but not least, I would like to dedicate this award to my beautiful city, my source of inspiration and my home Beirut,” she wrote.


Startup of the Week: Alia’s Touch; Combination of classic, modern clothing design

Startup of the Week: Alia’s Touch; Combination of classic, modern clothing design
Updated 11 May 2021

Startup of the Week: Alia’s Touch; Combination of classic, modern clothing design

Startup of the Week: Alia’s Touch; Combination of classic, modern clothing design

JEDDAH: Alia Al-Zubaidi’s passion for design led her into becoming an interior designer. But it was her love of fashion that prompted the setting up of her own business, Alia’s Touch.

Her popular twist on the tie-dye technique has seen her incorporating the design into dresses, abayas, and other personalized, hand-painted items of clothing.

The entrepreneur started out producing custom-made pieces for her customers, but as the process developed, she began selling her designs to stores.

“I particularly like printing my designs on the fabric itself. I buy fabrics from different places such as India, Pakistan, Dubai, and the UK. I source a variety of fabrics from around the world and add my unique touch.
It is my work and my hobby,” she said.

Al-Zubaidi described her style of clothes as “classic-modern” and the paint for her recent tie-dyed designs was imported from India.

“Tie-dyed clothes were not a common fashion in Saudi Arabia, so when I started making them, I was skeptical. However, my customers loved the new designs and wanted to buy them immediately,” she added.

As tie-dye became popular in the Kingdom, Al-Zubaidi noticed other fabrics being sold with the designs printed on them.

“I was hand painting each article of clothing at that time, so each piece was different. The challenge I faced at the beginning of my business was finding outlets to sell my products. Any concept stores, or bazaars were extremely expensive.”

The designer draws her inspiration from many sources including the traditional jalabia (a full-length loose dress commonly worn by Saudi women) and produces trendy prints and patterns for younger people.

Although preferring prints, she is not afraid to experiment with embroidery, laces, and different designs.

“I think the biggest thing that designers struggle with is the high cost of making these clothes. There are limited outlets where they can be sold, and the competition is extremely tough,” she said.

Further details on Instagram @alias_touch


Founders of fashion label NIILI seek to share UAE design ethos with the world

Founders of fashion label NIILI seek to share UAE design ethos with the world
Updated 10 May 2021

Founders of fashion label NIILI seek to share UAE design ethos with the world

Founders of fashion label NIILI seek to share UAE design ethos with the world

DUBAI: As UAE-based luxury womenswear label NIILI readies to bring its unique line to Saudi Arabia via the Homegrown Market, a concept store that showcases contemporary emerging Arab brands, the founders spoke to Arab News about their global hopes for the brand that was launched mere weeks before the debilitating COVID-19 pandemic. 

NIILI’s “N21” Fall/Winter 2021/22 capsule collection, which will be available at the Homegrown Market, is inspired by the rich heritage of the UAE and features two of symbols of the country’s culture — palm trees and henna, the ancient art that is commonly used to design women’s hands and feet for weddings and other religious events like Eid. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by NIILI (@niili_official)

A customized pattern melding the two is visible throughout the capsule collection on the label’s signature flowy kaftans. The new line is marked by soft pastels and natural hues, a color palette that was chosen to highlight elegance and femininity.

Launched mere weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the Middle East, NIILI has been fighting to build a name for itself in the competitive fashion market. 

The co-founders of the ready-to-wear brand, Emirati Khaled Al-Zaabi and Spanish Paula Quetglas Llop, discussed the fashion house’s main goals, how the brand is succeeding despite tough times and its new collection.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by NIILI (@niili_official)

“What we wanted to do was really create a truly wonderful luxury brand out of the region that would cater to the tastes of the region, but also share with the world our own views of design inspiration and luxury,” said Al-Zaabi.  

The entrepreneur said that he wanted to share Emirati culture with the world, but also stay true to the nature of the UAE. “It is a very inclusive country and a very global country to actually have that international view and international appeal,” added the founder. 

For Llop, she believes that this is the best time to “consume local.” She said that with the pandemic, the trend in countries now is to support “what’s going on in one's country.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by NIILI (@niili_official)

When speaking about the effect of the pandemic on NIILI, Al-Zaabi joked: “You could conduct all the analysis and industry studies… and then you launch on the 15th of January 2020, then a few weeks later there is a major global pandemic that hasn’t happened in a hundred years.”

He said that launching during the time of a pandemic was challenging. “It was and still is extremely difficult… tghankfully we are quite a lean structure as well. We’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices as well (with) cuts,” he explained. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by NIILI (@niili_official)

“It also allowed us to revise our strategy, revise our business plans and rethink a lot of aspects,” added Al-Zaabi. 

According to Llop, the major change for NIILI was going entirely digital. “We really had to think about how to proceed to get a space in the digital world that is absolutely flooded with brands and new things,” she said. 

However, the brand has been making moves since its launch. Just last month, NIILI launched on Ounass for customers in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and beyond.


French model Cindy Bruna stars in the L’Oreal x Elie Saab beauty campaign

French model Cindy Bruna stars in the L’Oreal x Elie Saab beauty campaign
Cindy Bruna is one of the most recognizable models in the fashion industry. File/Getty Images
Updated 10 May 2021

French model Cindy Bruna stars in the L’Oreal x Elie Saab beauty campaign

French model Cindy Bruna stars in the L’Oreal x Elie Saab beauty campaign

DUBAI: Cosmetics giant L’Oreal has released a limited-edition makeup collection of nine products with Lebanese couturier Elie Saab. Saab is the latest designer to team up with the cosmetics company, which has partnered with other fashion houses such as Balmain, Isabel Marant and Karl Lagerfeld in the past. The campaign for the L’Oreal x Elie Saab makeup range was unveiled this week, starring French model Cindy Bruna.

The catwalk star appears in a beauty advert wearing a heavily-embellished gossamer dress designed by the Beirut-born couturier. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld)

Bruna, who was born to an Italian father and a Congolese mother in France, actually landed one of her first modeling jobs for Elie Saab shortly after signing with Wilhelmina Models in 2012. 

She would go on to become one of the most recognizable models in the industry, making headlines as the first Black woman to walk exclusively for Calvin Klein in that same year.

Bruna, has been ranked as a “Money Girl” on models.com, alongside the likes of Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner, meaning she is predicted to have longevity in the fashion world. She has walked the runway a clutch of high-end labels, including Chanel, Saint Laurent and Gucci, to name just a few.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld)

Throughout her career, she has remained loyal to the designer who gave her one of her first modeling gigs and recently served as the face of Elie Saab Parfum’s 10-year anniversary campaign. 

Meanwhile, the exclusive L’Oreal x Elie Saab makeup collection is exactly what you’d expect from a designer beloved by celebrities for his stunning haute couture gowns.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld)

The nine-piece collection, which marks the designer’s first foray into beauty, includes four shades of lipstick, three creamy lip glosses, a nine-pan eyeshadow palette and an oil-infused mascara. Each comes in sleek, gold-tinged packaging that evokes the luxury of the designer’s signature ethereal gowns.

“My goal has always been to make women look beautiful and this collection allows me to bring an array of products to fit into women’s lives, helping them to feel more elegant and confident,”  Saab said in a statement about the collaboration.


Arab artist Nourie Flayan collaborates with luxury label Carolina Herrera on Eid illustrations

Arab artist Nourie Flayan collaborates with luxury label Carolina Herrera on Eid illustrations
Updated 10 May 2021

Arab artist Nourie Flayan collaborates with luxury label Carolina Herrera on Eid illustrations

Arab artist Nourie Flayan collaborates with luxury label Carolina Herrera on Eid illustrations

DUBAI: Lebanese artist Nourie Flayan is collaborating with US luxury fashion house Carolina Herrera on a set of Eid Al-Fitr illustrations. 

In celebration of the holiday, the brand is releasing a series of illustrations aiming to bring “together friends and families after Ramadan and highlight the strong family values that are at the core of the Carolina Herrera brand heritage,” according to a released statement. 

The artist also used the jasmine flower, which is a tribute to the iconic flower Venezuelan-American designer Carolina Herrera seeks inspiration from. (Supplied)

The illustrations that Flayan created for Carolina Herrera evoke a modern festive atmosphere, which fits both Ramadan and Eid, featuring traditional prints such as the Mashrabiya, an architectural element that is a characteristic of traditional architecture in the Islamic world. 

The artist also used the jasmine flower, which is a tribute to the iconic flower Venezuelan-American designer Carolina Herrera seeks inspiration from — the imperial jasmine.

Many of her illustrations feature multiple hands. (Supplied)

Flayhan is a well-known advocate of women’s rights.

She often draws colorful sketches of women in the region and many of her illustrations feature multiple hands or eyes.

She often draws colorful sketches of women in the region. (Supplied)

Flayhan studied textiles in university before delving into illustration. During her career she has collaborated with international brands such as Shopbop, Gucci, Loewe, Yoox and Selfridges. This is her first collaboration with Carolina Herrera.