Since 2010, the laid-back luxe of UAE-based brand Kage has cut an effortless, so-wearable silhouette on the region’s womenswear scene. Basma Abu Ghazaleh, the label’s founding designer, has consistently created collections that appeal to a broad range of clients, including millennials and more seasoned fashion fans in the region and abroad.
Vogue Arabia looks through Kage’s Fall 2017 offerings and speaks to Abu Ghazaleh about going global, people’s perceptions of Arab women, and tips for aspiring designers.
Born and raised in the UAE, Abu Ghazaleh fuses her cultural heritage with her flair for making clothes that appeal to Eastern and Western audiences alike. When asked about people’s misconceptions of Arab women, the designer’s answer is as bold as her collections. “It is natural to stereotype that which is not understood… so based on what the media perpetuates, I think many people assume the Arab woman is repressed and timid,” she said. “[This is] quite the opposite, really – the women I meet are highly educated and opinionated. They face the same challenges as women around the world – we have our careers, our families and our social responsibilities.”
I think many people assume the Arab woman is repressed and timid
The Fall 2017 Kage woman is clearly empowered and a citizen of the world. “The Middle Eastern Kage customer loves living in the region, but she values travel and the freedom to explore,” the designer said. While the DNA of the brand is ever-present throughout its bi-annual offerings, there’s a universal appeal and air of cool nonchalance to Kage Fall 2017.
Dubai’s Fashion Forward showcase was the launchpad for Kage, with the brand taking part in three catwalk shows and two presentations.
Although it remains a challenge for regional designers to break into the global fashion market, after eight years in the business Abu Ghazaleh has some wise words for emerging talent.
“Be patient and think big,” she said. “International players want to see regional expansion, while regional retailers hesitate to take regional brands seriously. It’s quite an interesting challenge, but over the years I’ve come to realize that fashion is a long-term game.”
For Fall 2017, Kage is offering the “unexpected” said Abu Ghazaleh. “The unexpected element of Fall 17 lies in our brocade inspired fabrics, which we combined with star and stripe printed material,” she said. Indeed, the luxurious metallic fabrics, baroque prints, and voluminous frills make for a bohemian rhapsody of wintry separates.
“The ‘Dreamer’ collection showcases a richer, more glamorous realm but with our signature free spirit,” said Abu Ghazaleh. With the addition of a ribbed turtleneck, the collection ticks all the boxes for modern elegance and can be reinterpreted in many ways. It is versatile enough to be picked up by international buyers looking to mix things up in their local markets.
“My dream is to grow Kage into an international brand through continually evolving our aesthetic,” Abu Ghazale said. From the classic striped shirt to the longline dresses, it’s clear to see how Kage will appeal across the globe.
Kage Fall 2017 is available online now. Interview originally published in Spring 2017.