Since launching her e-commerce platform in May 2017, Bahraini designer Lulwa Al Amin has filled her online store with bold new collections, relocated from London back to Bahrain, and created a unique space for creative collaboration. Using the concept of oscillating ‘window displays’ from her very own digital universe, the designer conceptualizes unique stories with artists and emerging names from the region and beyond. Naturally, these projects are plugged into new collections from her Lulu Al Amin brand and showcases the designer’s sartorial whimsy in a range of different mediums: photography, film, and even baking.
“The change in the digital world made it no longer necessary for brands to be based in a fashion capital,” Al Amin tells Vogue Arabia. Indeed the digital world has changed the landscape for most major brands, enabling more visibility for emerging labels and requiring a dialogue between storied houses and the customer, in an unprecedented way. Early adopters to social media platforms, such as Topshop Unique and Burberry, have found digital solutions for retaining the interest of its clientele and closing the waiting list for collection drops in store with see-now-buy-now fresh from the runway.
A pillar of Burberry’s new digital initiative, Instagram is the brand’s window display to the world. American-Palestinian models and siblings, Gigi and Anwar Hadid model in the new campaign for the British brand. @Burberry | Instagram
With the dawn of the digital age, customers want to buy into the lifestyle of the brand, peek behind the once closed doors of the maisons, relate to the ethos of the company in a sequence of Snapchats, and adore the designers at the helm. Gucci‘s Alessandro Michele is a classic case in point. Since his appointment in 2015, the design maestro and his 204K of Instagram followers and 16+million brand followers have created a cultural stratosphere of all things Gucci–from homeware to travel apps, fur-lined Princetown slippers, and oversized jewel-encrusted sunglasses. Gucci enjoyed a 21% rise in sales in the fourth quarter of 2016 with over 4.3 million euros being made for the Kering Group’s biggest name. Gucci’s traction on social media is a driving force behind its success.
The Italian brand showcases its new collections and diffusion projects via its @Gucci Instagram account.
Instagram has also given a platform for regional designers, Al Amin reflects. “Most industry professionals and customers focused on international designers rather than supporting regional ones. However with social media, this has all changed. It exposed Middle Eastern designers and [regional] styles to a worldwide audience.” With her digital-first ethos now in place, Al Amin’s approach is not just focused on getting the collection spot-on, but also considers how to make it resonate with her audience, and indeed broaden her customer base.
Social platforms have proven to be a viable source of market research for Al Amin. “I learned that most customers loved my clothing, but they would only use them for special occasions due to the delicate textiles I was using and the higher prices. They wanted everyday pieces in my prints that required easier care at a reasonable cost. That was when Lulu Al Amin was born.” The brand’s diffusion line is now available via its online store but in the beginning the designer launched it at a pop-up event. “During the first 15 minutes I sold out almost 70% of the collection. Social media allowed me to interact with my clients and deliver to them what they wanted. The next step was to make my brand available to my worldwide clientele. A digital store was the answer.”
The Bahraini designer is uniquely placed to bridge a gap between East and West aesthetics with her laissez-faire flair. Al Amin’s fashion CV includes working with Matthew Williamson and Browns and graduating from the highly-reputed Central Saint Martins. Now, the designer enlists people in her social orbit to reinterpret her designs with art, photography, and film projects. Dubai-based photographer Mashael Al Saie and Reem Fakhro of Bakery Blissful Temptations were the first to join the Lulwa Al Amin ‘window displays.’ Al Amin’s sister Maryam joins the fold this week with a short video that explores the high summer Lulu Al Amin collection. “Maryam has always had a love for theater. It was interesting to see how my collection inspired her to create the most magical setting,” Al Amin tells Vogue Arabia. “I have a long list of talents I want to work with, and I look forward to introducing them to my customers and the world.” Watch the video collaboration above.
Lulu Al Amin is available online via Lulwaalamin.com