Celebrating Tradition with Feminism

Celebrating Tradition with Feminism - Located on the edge of Rawdah Street, Nawal’s boutique is filled with pastel shades of allurement. The boutique captures the quality of being mysteriously attractive and draws you in, and the pastel theme imbibes a soft cultural approach to her designs.

Having been in the industry since 2000, Nawal conceived the idea of her signature fashion line in her final year of college where she was already designing abayas with her signature styles. Nawal spoke to Arab News and admitted it was positive feedback and support of her friends and family that gave birth to the brand “Nawal the Art of Traditional Clothing.”

“I had a wonderful childhood and a very encouraging family. I have lived my entire life in Jeddah and studied Business Administration at King Abdulaziz University. My parents trusted me to make my own decisions and with the support of everyone, I pursued my lifelong dream to become a fashion designer,” said Nawal.

“It was my idea to provide abayas and thiyab (kaftans) that are extremely fashionable with affordable prices. Limited and selective, the abayas cover up and the thiyabs have modest designs,” she added.


The brand name represents a consistency of elegance, modernism and sophistication. “I mainly consider Nawal for women who appreciate style, enjoy dressing up and who celebrate femininity while remaining strong and independent,” she said.

One of her most popular designs has been her jersey abayas, which she introduced in 2003. Lately, she says, crochet pieces and sleeves have been really popular. Many ladies order abayas for their business seminars. The same goes for thiyab, which are mainly worn for Ramadan. “My creations are a mix of conservative and modern, allowing women to wear them during Ramadan and throughout the year to mixed events, weddings, business seminars or a friend’s gathering.

Each year, there are special Ramadan collections that mostly consist of thiyab and abayas. For Eid, the collections are more extravagant and elegant, using more beads and more embroidery.

“A large variety of different materials are used for all my garments. However, once a material becomes very mainstream and available at every store, I minimize it or discontinue it. I keep my designs distinctive so they stand out,” explained the designer.

For most of her garments, Nawal deals with factories in India and Hong Kong. “Sometimes, I have an idea for which I design my own garment and wait for it to arrive,” she said.

“The process of designing starts with an idea,” explained Nawal. “Either it is more on the fashionable and edgy side or on the conventional and classic side. Sometimes, the garment can be the inspiration behind the entire design. Of course, I face many challenges for creating the first perfect sample item. The thing is, however, I don’t finalize or approve any design unless I’m 100 per cent satisfied with it.”

The price range of her garments varies between SR800 and SR2,500. Special tailored orders are priced upon request.

Nawal’s main focus is providing for the Saudi market. However, she also supplies to store throughout the Middle East. “I take part in many exhibitions in Qatar, UAE in addition to different regions in Saudi Arabia,” she said. However, international customers can also make personalized orders through her website.

When asked about her career as a fashion designer, Nawal said: “It is an exciting path if it is well maintained. Although in Saudi Arabia, the majority of people don’t differentiate between people who have been in the field for over 10 years and those that have been for 10 days!”

“I maintain myself and my brand by paying attention to details, taking risks and maintaining a certain level of quality. I always listen to customer feedback, and most importantly, always look to introduce new, fresh and innovative ideas,” she added.

Usually, her collections carry a theme. For example, there was the Arabic inspired thiyab collection, as well as “Rock n Roll” infused abayas with metallic fitting. There was also a “Mother/ Daughter” collection, and last year, each thobe came with a personalized accessory.

What sets her clothes apart from other designers is that she avoids every day trends, especially for her abayas. Also, one major trend of hers is her colored abayas. “I remember way back in 2000 when nobody would dare to buy a colored abaya. I also remember getting shocking comments on my own colored abayas. However, these days, almost everyone loves colored abayas,” said Nawal.

Nawal advises keeping your style personal. Her advice for designers is to have your own special quality that you provide. “Although getting into the abaya and thiyab industry is easy at first, the tough part is maintaining your business. My advice is to keep your designs personal, add your own touches and always remember that you can learn more from critiques than compliments.”

Staying in the business for over 10 years has been a major accomplishment for Nawal. In addition, the opening for her Jeddah store was definitely a memorable achievement. However, she says she feels proudest when she sees someone wearing her design while looking and feeling great. “It is the best feeling in the world!” she said.

Like many of us, Nawal loves crochet, laces, flowers mixed with stones, studs and different elements of edgy fashion.

Her brand represents different moods of charm and splendor: understated, yet feminine with an edge. ( arabnews.com )

No comments:

Post a Comment