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Emirati Women’s Day: 5 Local Designers Changing the Future of Fashion

The UAE has long been heralded as a pillar of gender equality in the region. From aiming to reduce the gender gap across all government sectors including the Federal National Council, empowering women to enroll in not only higher education but also in STEM courses, and requiring equal pay and female representation in decision-making boardrooms, the UAE is constantly progressing with new policies and programs to continue promoting equal opportunities for men and women.

On August 28, we celebrate Emirati Women’s Day in honor of Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood’s mission to recognize the key role women play in shaping the future of the country. Vogue Arabia reached out to some of the nation’s most celebrated designers to explore what they believe the future of fashion will look like in this ever-evolving landscape and the advice they have for young Emirati women who hope to join them in their quest to inspire creative change.

Sheikha Madiyah Al Sharqi

Madiyah Al Sharqi

Madiyah Al Sharqi at Ounass. Photo: Supplied

How has Covid-19 affected your design process and creativity overall? Were there any changes that you see becoming more permanent fixtures?

I’ve found new meaning in getting creative; it’s pushed us out of our comfort zones to explore new ways to present a collection next season. When it comes to the design process, I believe we have already started heading in the direction by incorporating more seasonless items into the collection that aren’t trend-driven, so we will continue in that direction.

Describe what you think the future of fashion will look like in a post-pandemic world.

My hope is we’ll come out of this more conscious and mindful of the way we consume fashion—investing in quality, design, and the craftspeople behind it.

Where did you find moments of hope and inspiration during this tumultuous time?

Being surrounded by family and sticking to a routine.

What does Emirati Women’s Day mean to you?

I think it’s about celebrating every woman’s achievements and inspiring others with those breakthroughs. It’s a testament to how empowered women are in the UAE, and how we always strive to be a progressive community.

What advice would you give young Emirati women who are planning to join the creative world in the wake of this pandemic?

In any profession, I think it requires a lot of passion to enjoy what you do. Now more than ever, it’s so important to be able to embrace constant change and be inventive in such a fluctuating landscape.

Noora Shawqi

Noora Shawqi, Emirati Women's Day

Noora Shawqi. Photo: Supplied

What would you say are the biggest lessons you learned about life and about yourself during quarantine?

Even in the midst of a crisis and all this chaos, life goes on. And more specifically about myself, I learned that my positive outlook on life allows me to adapt to changing situations.

How has Covid-19 affected your design process and creativity overall? Were there any changes that you see becoming more permanent fixtures?

It allowed me to slow down and have more time to design which I really enjoyed. In the past, it was always hard to find the time to just sit down on my own and design. I’m hoping I can keep that up in the future but already my schedule is filling up!

Describe what you think the future of fashion will look like in a post-pandemic world.

I would like to see brands develop seasonless collections that are less trend-based and more focused on wearability and sustainability.

Where did you find moments of hope and inspiration during this tumultuous time?

My family is a source of inspiration. Also scrolling through old holiday photos gives me hope for when we can travel again!

What does Emirati Women’s Day mean to you? Will you be celebrating it any differently this year?

As a mother and an entrepreneur, it brings immense joy to have a day dedicated to us that shows how the women of the country are constantly valued for our strength and efforts. With two young children, I’m trying to be mindful of the situation so this year I’ll just be celebrating at home with my immediate family.

What advice would you give young Emirati women who are planning to join the creative world in the wake of this pandemic?

Do your research and have a plan in place. It’s not easy being in a creative industry so make sure to surround yourself with people who support you 100% of the way.

Also Read: 11 Arab Women Who Are Breaking The Status Quo Everyday

Noor, Budoor and Sarah Al Khaja of Serrb

Serrb

Serrb AW2020 collection. Photo: Supplied

What would you say are the biggest lessons you learned about life and about yourself during quarantine?

The quarantine taught us that life is unexpected, as well as the need to be flexible and open to changes. In our businesses, it taught us to re-evaluate priorities and be open to change.

How has Covid-19 affected your design process and creativity overall? Were there any changes that you see becoming more permanent fixtures?

It has led to us focusing more on local suppliers, due to delivery issues, as well as to support other local businesses to remain open.

Describe what you think the future of fashion will look like in a post-pandemic world.

We believe in the near future, fashion will move in the direction of more versatile, timeless pieces.

Where did you find moments of hope and inspiration during this tumultuous time?

In the moments that we were forced to slow down and appreciate the small things.

What does Emirati Women’s Day mean to you? Will you be celebrating it any differently this year?

We believe that every day is Women’s Day but sometimes we get caught up in life and take things for granted. So it’s a chance to stop, celebrate, and appreciate the people that we are and the people who we’ve become.

What advice would you give young Emirati women who are planning to join the creative world in the wake of this pandemic?

Never be afraid to voice out your thoughts and opinions. There is always someone who is interested. And if you find the courage to believe in yourself then nothing can stop you.

Latifa AlGurg of Twisted Roots

Latifa AlGurg, Twisted Roots, Emirati designer, Emirati Women's Day

Latifa AlGurg of Twisted Roots. Photo: Supplied

What would you say are the biggest lessons you learned about life and about yourself during quarantine?

The biggest realization for me was to realize how much I was focusing on the future, making plans, scheduling everything in advance, and such. It was a shock at first not to be able to do any planning. However, it quickly became a lesson in learning to focus on the now and create space and time for living in and appreciating the present moment.

How has Covid-19 affected your design process and creativity overall? Were there any changes that you see becoming more permanent fixtures?

We had to take everything online, which surprisingly created for a more focused discussion. This has helped us keep track of the collection development process, so I think we will adopt this system for collection development as a permanent fixture to be more effective.

Describe what you think the future of fashion will look like in a post-pandemic world.

Prior to the pandemic, there was a shift towards the appreciation of more of a slow fashion model involving craftsmanship and quality, and I think the pandemic has highlighted this even more, with people considering what they are purchasing more carefully and shifting away from higher consumption rates.

Where did you find moments of hope and inspiration during this tumultuous time?

We had much more quality family time, where we had more opportunities to share different perspectives and learn from each other’s interests. I found my kids’ perspectives truly inspiring and enlightening. Cooking together, completing puzzles together, and playing board games also became highlights of our days.

What does Emirati Women’s Day mean to you? Will you be celebrating it any differently this year?

It’s a chance to celebrate all the strong women who have contributed to building and sustaining this great nation. I’ll be enjoying quality time with my immediate family to celebrate the day.

What advice would you give young Emirati women who are planning to join the creative world in the wake of this pandemic?

Prepare whatever you can ahead and take your time building a strong understanding of your identity, goals, and pathways. The stronger your foundation, the more enjoyable the journey.

Yasmin Al Mulla

YASMIN AL MULLA

Yasmin Al Mulla. Photo: Supplied

What would you say are the biggest lessons you learned about life and about yourself during quarantine?

That what matters most after health is having a strong community, great countries, and a world that contains us.

Describe what you think the future of fashion will look like in a post-pandemic world.

The future of fashion is shifting into a whole new direction, as we are never coming out of this the same. But stronger, with brighter ideas, and valued directions. It is about elevating our strongest products, and filling the missing gap in the market; it’s all about e-commerce and sustainable production.  It is as well about renewed interest in clothing items as the consumers are shifting into nothing but timeless pieces—smart quality shopping rather than quantity.

Where did you find moments of hope and inspiration during this tumultuous time?

From the togetherness of the people, the sense of community, and the inseparable unity. From my family, friends, and loved ones.

What does Emirati Women’s Day mean to you? Will you be celebrating it any differently this year?

It is a dear day by all means. We are so blessed and fortunate to live in this beautiful country—where women take their chances in all aspects, where women’s voices are being heard, and where women are being treated as gems. We are being celebrated every single day by just living in the UAE, so every day is nothing but a celebration for us.

What advice would you give young Emirati women who are planning to join the creative world in the wake of this pandemic?

You are living in a country where women are being supported in all aspects. Use your chances, study the market, fulfill the missing gap, and incorporate your passion through your education and career. But always remember that there is a room for everyone—We rise by lifting others!

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