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The Winner of the Expo 2020 Uniform Design Competition is…

Twisted Roots Expo 2020 collection.

Congratulations are in order for Latifa Al Gurg. The Emirati womenswear designer behind Twisted Roots has been selected to design the uniforms for the upcoming Expo 2020. The 2017 DDFC/Vogue Fashion Prize alumni was chosen by a jury that included Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau, and Vogue Arabia editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut. Al Gurg beat out the other two finalists, By Laha and ARSHYS, who all showcased full lines on a runway, including a top, bottom, outer jacket, hat, bag, tie, scarf, kandora and ghitra, abaya and shayla, and an Expo 2020 accessory, before the judges. “This Expo 2020 is a showcase for the UAE. It’s a place where we can be proud and show exactly what the UAE has to give,” the Danish-Emirati designer told “To be a voice for that is important.”

The world-traveling Al Gurg is known to create collections inspired by a destination, and her winning line-up for the upcoming Expo is influenced by the Emirates. Drawing directly from a quote from Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the collection is built upon linear, clean lines and layering, and beautifully marries heritage and modernity by incorporating the traditional Sadu weaving technique into the pieces. “The UAE is an old civilization that has always welcomed other cultures. It brings people together,” shares Al Gurg. “Everybody is surprised by the rapid growth of the UAE, but I have always believed in how its history has grown due to its deep-set heritage of accepting different cultures, welcoming them, and learning from them.”

In late August, the Expo 2020 announced a design competition that was open to all designers in the UAE to create the uniforms. The pieces will clothe more than 30,000 female and male volunteers and staff that will be working the six-month-long exhibition in Dubai, which runs from October 20, 2020, to April 10, 2021. Design hopefuls were tasked with imagining men’s and women’s uniforms that celebrate the Expo’s theme, which is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. In addition to highlighting the rich Emirati heritage through incorporating elements of the UAE culture into the design, each uniform must also be practical, weather appropriate, and easily identifiable whilst remaining modest.

Sustainability was one of Expo 2020’s three key sub-themes, alongside opportunity and mobility, and those who created zero-waste, eco-friendly designs, using recycled or sustainable fabrics and materials, had a higher chance of being chosen as a finalist. Al Gurg made sure to adopt an environmentally-conscious approach to her work by utilizing recycled polyester, with shirts and trousers mechanically recycled from plastic bottles. Meanwhile, old polyester collected by way of community drives was woven into cuffs and collars.

“The fashion industry is the third largest industry in the world and has one of the largest footprints in terms of pollution and water usage,” states Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy. “But it represents one of the best opportunities to develop and showcase sustainable initiatives, while educating consumers. Naturally creative, fashion could help us shift from a culture of consumption and disposability to one of value, where we really think about how we make and reuse clothes and accessories. We want the designs, and by extension Expo 2020, to represent what we stand for as a nation.”

As for her favorite pieces from the Expo collection, Al Gurg reflects, “I love the abaya. I also like the cross-body satchel bag because it’s convertible, so it’s a point of innovation.” The 30 000-plus workforce will undoubtedly enjoy wearing it too.

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