DUBAI: Mexican designer Daniela Cassab, whose grandparents migrated from Aleppo, Syria, knows how to make the perfect leather jacket. Founder and designer of her artisanal label, DanCassab, she specializes in handmade leather garments in Mexico designed to transcend seasons and pass down through generations.
The designer was in Dubai earlier this year to launch her exclusive pop-up at THAT Concept Store. Arab News caught up with her to understand her love for outerwear and what goes behind creating each piece.
Born and raised in Mexico, Cassab grew up around fashion. Her family has been in the textile industry, and her father's factories manufactured jeans for Guess and Marciano.
After studying art history at the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York, she moved back home and realized the possibility of starting a label that valued slow fashion and focused on preserving the heritage and crafts of her country.
In 2016, DanCassab was born, one of the pillars of the brand being her employment of highly skilled local artisans.
Her specialty? Outerwear — you always need a perfect jacket that you can wear with jeans and a silk dress,” she explained.
One look at her bestselling Loretta jacket, and it's hard not to fall in love with its glamorous cowboy aesthetic, oversized collar and soft fringes. Inspired by traditional jackets called Cuera Tamaulipeca worn by hunters in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, she explained that typically fringes were designed to shed rain.
“Four years ago the government from Tamaulipas wanted to reinterpret the Cuera Tamaulipeca and asked me to do it in a more contemporary way. That’s how our Iconic ‘Loretta’ came to life, and it was a hit. That was the first piece that started the idea of fringes, and I also love the whole cowboy vibe,” she said. Each of her pieces is handmade from the finest leathers using traditional construction techniques and can take six-to-eight days to create. Elsewhere, her beaded fringed jackets are equally covetable – especially with their Rock'n'Roll vibe.
She describes her clothes as works of art – because of the time and dedication that goes behind them. “The beading takes hours as it's done by hand. Additionally, unlike other materials, leather has no give – if you stitch it the wrong way, you must go back and do it all over again.”
When it comes to her Arab roots, the designer said her heritage inspires her work ethic.
“My Arab roots inspire me in the business area, since I was very young I was able to see how my great grandparents and my grandparents who came from Syria started a business in a completely different country. They were very agile and used to selling textiles. It was their passion, they were capable of creating a very big textile empire that lasted for generations until today,” she said, adding: “This is how I learned the importance of working, of falling in love with your passion and what you desire… the perseverance and the way they communicated with clients was also special, it’s a magical approach that makes customers fall in love.”