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This Saudi Designer’s Slow Fashion Brand Merges Sustainability And Style

“Sadeem is a slow-fashion brand. I don’t follow seasons or trends,” starts the label’s designer, Aljawharah Sadeem Abdulaziz Alshehail. “I do believe that fashion seasons have become a false reflection of how consumers truly shop today.” Her tailored clothing is designed to be timeless and can be made and customized at any moment. Her fourth collection, Abwaab (Doors), is inspired by her native Saudi Arabia, a country that she deems is moving forward without forgetting its past. “Saudi has been exploring many of its untapped resources, with a very determined plan,” she says. Citizens of both genders are encouraged to be active agents of change. Simple initiatives by our leadership has truly evolved the mindset and quality of living in Saudi Arabia.”

Courtesy of Sadeem.

Translating this to clothing, Alshehail’s luxury womenswear designs are a contemporary take on the motifs found in native Saudi folklore, architecture, costume, and jewelry. Geometric shapes are dominant and reflect the design aesthetic of the country’s heritage. Fabrics – mostly silk – are chosen for their durability and biodegradability. Alshehail works with textile mills that use eco-friendly printing and dying. The primary color palette features a deep red hue, signifying attention, strength, passion, and love while the line captures a sharp and angular look, with the use of color blocking, cut-out appliqué, and embroidery work. Made between New York’s garment district, Dubai Design District, and her studio in Riyadh, the clothes cater to a woman Alshehail says is mature and intellectual. “She is ambitious and courageous, chic, poised, and understated.”

“For as long as I remember, I’ve been surrounded by the topic of fashion and style. It wasn’t only about clothes; it was a way of living,” the designer recalls. “I’m a child of the 70s. Growing up in Riyadh required wearing specific attire that fit our customs and occasions.” There were few stores that sold ready-to-wear clothes. Most households relied on their neighborhood or house seamstress to build a fitting wardrobe. “When we traveled for holidays, shopping clothes for the entire year was a necessity. I remember the joy of customizing long skirts for each outfit bought abroad. Burda sewing patterns were a must-have, and people ended up redesigning international trends with a modest and conservative twist.”

Today, like Saudi fashion, Alshehail’s wardrobe requisites have evolved and showcase her ambitions to further a circular economy. “Designs should be timeless and sewn with high quality in an environmentally friendly and ethical manner,” she says. “When an item is no longer desired, I hope that it would be swapped or handed to a friend, a secondhand shop, or donated to charity. If the garment is too worn, it can be sent to a textile recycling facility, where it can be reused for new clothes or other fabric products.” While her designs are minimal, her cuts and finishes are high-end. “Eco-friendly materials and high-quality tailoring are costly, but made to last,” she affirms. “Fast fashion has made it easy for people to forget that when you pay next to nothing for an outfit, someone else is paying for it.”

Find her label here.

Originally published in the June 2019 issue of Vogue Arabia.

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