DUBAI: Qatar-based ready-to-wear label 1309 Studios, founded by entrepreneur Ghada Al-Subaey, has been garnering the attention of international stars, including Argentinian model Georgina Rodriguez.
The star, who now lives in Saudi Arabia with her boyfriend Portuguese football player Cristiano Ronaldo, wore one of Al-Subaey’s abayas during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Doha.
Al-Subaey told Arab News that one of her brand’s key goals was to modernize the traditional abaya and “make it accessible to every woman around the world.
“Having Georgina walk into a boutique and pick our abaya off the rack and wear it for such an important event means that we have managed to reach that goal in making the abaya versatile and wearable. She picked one of our signature abayas the palm sage green,” she said.
Rodriguez wore the design with a figure-hugging black dress, silver heels, and a white Chanel bag.
1309 Studios is grounded in a contemporary bohemian aesthetic. At the heart of the brand is a minimalist, feminine look that merges seasonal trends with traditional Qatari elements.
Clean silhouettes, bold colors, artful prints, and carefully considered details are hallmarks of the brand. The designer draws inspiration from art, nature, and global culture to create pieces with a contemporary edge.
“When I was a teenager, I found myself exploring fabrics and creating styles that weren’t available in Qatar at the time. I began designing kaftans for family and friends during college and that’s where it all started,” Al-Subaey added.
Before she launched her brand in 2015, she ran her small business from home and relied on word of mouth to increase the hype around her designs.
She said: “That was when I conceptualized and worked on launching my own brand. I saw that there was a gap, there was a need to create a community in Qatar where women can turn to take care of their emotional wellbeing and leave no stone unturned to make it into a reality.”
The brand name 1309 is a nod to Al-Subaey’s mother.
“13/09 is my mother’s birthday. The name is dedicated to my mother, as I got my fashion sense from her. I used to watch her stitch and cut when I was younger, I learned all about fabrics and stitching from my mother,” she added.
Al-Subaey’s designs, which are shipped worldwide and are available in stores in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and Qatar, are tailored in Qatar. She uses sustainable, natural, and vegan fabrics, as well as biodegradable packaging.
She said: “We also recycle scrap fabric and turn it into furniture. We rely on human skills and avoid the use of machinery as much as possible.”
And her designs are not just sketches that she brings to life, she puts thought into the design process to understand how the pieces she is creating will emotionally affect the person wearing it.
“I want people to feel relaxed and most like themselves while wearing a 1309 piece of clothing. A lot of times when people are not comfortable in their clothes, they are not themselves.
“The idea behind the 1309 studio woman is to create a safe place for women. A place where women come together to empower and uplift each other professionally and otherwise; to develop a platform where women feel free to speak up and support and take a moment to heal from the daily challenges of life in today’s fast-paced technological world.
“The clothes they wear should not be a restraint. The fabrics, colors, and cuts that I choose make the girls feel fun and alive. It should feel like an outfit, rather than a covering for an outfit.
“The fabric we use at 1309 is meant to complement various body types and shapes,” she added.
Al-Subaey is working to grow her brand globally.
She said: “I want to change this stigma around abayas. I want abayas to become as respected globally as kimonos and to see everyone around the world wearing them; not necessarily to cover the body, but instead as a fashion statement.
“I would love for my ideas and inspiration to create change. Whether it is about applying sustainable approaches in our work or utilizing environmentally friendly packaging, I want the brand to continue to make a positive impact toward the community.
“I would like to expand globally and represent the Arab world in a global fashion space,” she added.