FRESH PER­SPEC­TIVE

NAFS is re­defin­ing tra­di­tional wear

Villa 88 - - Contents -

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

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