NAFS is redefining traditional wear
WITH A LIFETIME’S WORTH OF shared understanding, there’s a special sibling bond that makes the women behind the acronym – N for Noora, A for Alia, F for Fatma, and S for Sarah – an exceptional entrepreneurial team.
Siblings are naturally competitive, they provide honest feedback without restraint and, having been partners their entire lives, they are also each other’s biggest cheerleaders. They also tend to move on from arguments quicker than those who don’t share this familial bond. So, when four formidable females collaborate – each with their own individual style and specialized expertise – it’s always going to be a killer combination. Especially when discourse proves to be pivotal to the creative process.
“We never fight, it’s always chilled!” laughs Noora, who, along with her sisters, has invited Villa 88 to be the very first guest to their brand-new showroom-cum-office in d3. “No, there’s lots of arguing but it usually helps us with the creative process. We’ll hash over
ideas together to inspire each other. My designs will be different from Fatma’s, but they have a shared vision and uniformity. In the past, all the pieces in a collection would look different, but now, there is always a theme and a consistency running through it. They are properly tied together.”
While their roles overlap, it is Fatma and Noora who chart the ship’s course by spearheading the design, while Alia keeps the engines running by looking after the accounts and admin, and Sarah is more involved in another side of their business, NAFS Creations.
Noora – who claims her designs originate in her dreams – is also responsible for the brand’s inspired social media, a platform they all agree has been central to their success. “We took full advantage of social media! It’s what made us what we are today,” says Noora. Because, although they’d already caught the attention of the community, it was social media – and Noora’s artistic eye – that helped NAFS to really take off. “I love taking pictures. All the Instagram photoshoots are mine. I take them, style them and edit them. I know what people want. I studied mass communications at university and we learned marketing tactics and how to target audiences – I know when the best time to post is and when I will get the most likes,” she tells us.
“We’ve also noticed that, if we post a picture of ourselves wearing the outfit as opposed to a model, people like it more,” adds Fatma. “Our audience prefers normal people with normal bodies, as opposed to a model that they can’t relate to as much. When a model is wearing our ensembles, they also can’t picture it on themselves.”
They’ve learned over the years – NAFS began in 2012 when they were all still at university and school – that people want to see, and
“We hash over ideas together to inspire each other”
replicate, the full look. This is one of the reasons they’ve expanded to establish a proper NAFS HQ, a space where clients can come in and take advantage of fittings and styling sessions.
Having developed a reputation for herself as a skilful stylist, Fatma – who is regularly flown abroad to assist brides with their styling – is integral to this side of the operation. “I want to give a client the full look, so that they don’t have to think about it in the morning when they wake up.”
It’s not just styling that sets NAFS apart; it is also the brand’s forward-thinking approach, which proved to be the genesis of the business. Born out of a mutual frustration with what ( limited) modest fashion choices they had, NAFS is aimed at the younger, style conscious market.
Insisting that only in the past decade has the abaya started to take on a new identity as an item of fashion, they’re thrilled to be at the forefront of the modest fashion movement. With a modus operandi to push limits, be experimental and constantly evolve, the team are always asking: “What more can we do? What can we make different? What worldwide trends can we incorporate into our abayas while still being subtle and not over-the-top?”
The answer for this season is their multifunctional abaya, which can be dressed up or down. They also focus on sets, which makes their collections easier to wear; items that are dramatic in shape and cut, but with plain materials in earthy tones and black, in clean, uncluttered lines. “We’ve tried beads and embellishments, but they don’t work for us,” says Fatma.
Their travel wear line – complete capsule wardrobes for traveling – has also proven to be a huge hit. “We recently released a few new pieces and it became our most viewed story on social media. We released it before Eid as everyone travels over Eid, but we were still shocked by the overwhelming response!” @nafsdesigns