How to Become a Fashion Designer in Middle East

From Kazakhstan to Emirates

16.12.15, 02:30

Aliya Tair, 35, the founder of the namesake label, has spent the last 15 years in Dubai to discover new facets of her style and profession. She told Look.TM about what it takes to become a fashion designer and how she is inspired by menswear, minimalism and Dubai’s everlasting good weather.

As any teen does, I was always trying to express myself through the clothes I’m wearing. I customized (or as my mom would say “vandalized”) everything in my wardrobe. 

I tried to look for something that is not worn by every second girl back then in Kazakhstan, which was a nearly impossible task as we were swamped by a sea of Turkish merchandise! When I came to Dubai, that issue seemed to be solved, but only for a couple of years...

I guess it’s human nature to get bored even with the most extensive variety and to always seek newness and uniqueness. I’d say that sensation plus my “creative itch” and a right amount of ambition made me decide that I am going to try and make my own clothes. By the time I decided that I have traveled extensively, worked as a buyer and a creative manager for a fashion apparel company. All these experiences were very important to begin a brand of my own. 

Black jacket: MMM for H&M; boots with silver rivets: Sandro; dress: vintage

I use fabrics that are traditionally used to make kandoora – traditional Gulf menswear. I use a lot of menswear fabrics in general. They have more ability to hold tailoring and structure. I also love natural fabric – organic cottons, linen, etc. I enjoy discovering new material – Premiere Vision in Paris is like a candy shop (or rather “museum”) for me. Japanese and Korean innovations in fabrics are mind boggling. I hope one day I will be able to work with those.

Black asymmetrical top: Tair; pinstriped wool shorts: Tair; dipped Warmup leggins: Outdoor Voices (@outdoorvoices); sneakers: adidas Originals Womens Zx Flux Polka Dot Trainer

My style went through a total transformation... I was trying (too hard sometimes) to make statements with my look, I was experimenting a lot and I was inspired by Patricia Field’s work and Harajuku cult: I came up with bizarre combinations of crazy colors and clashing prints. I had fun with my appearances. With the time I became subtler and learned to enjoy and appreciate simplicity. Thus my style toned down and eventually Minimalism became a strong feature in my wardrobe. My obsession with Japanese culture has shifted from insanity of J-POP to restrictions and subtlety of Japanese heritage – its art, traditions and culture. But you know what. Never say never. I used to wear pink, I don’t think I will ever again, but who knows?

Red shirt: Carven; tri-Tone Warmup leggings: Outdoor Voices; plexi heel shoes: Cos

Moving from Kazakhstan to Emirates was an accidental thing that was meant to happen. I came to Dubai right after university to visit my uncle’s family that used to work and live here 15 years ago. It was a love at the first sight. 

What struck me was a big contrast to where I came from at that time: warm and sunny, plus positive people everywhere… The things I love about Dubai the most are weather and endless opportunities inherent to a young successful developing country.

Here in the Middle East, instead of a Fashion Week we have an event called Fashion Forward“Fashion Forward Dubai (FFWD) provides a platform and a progressive direction for fashion in the region”. It’s a slightly different concept thаn let’s say NYFW. Fashion Industry in Middle East is still in an evolutional stage. So the approach should be academic – more nurturing of all the aspects of the industry – buying, retail, design etc. Brag is a live marketing experiential agency – FFWD is one of our clients, it just happens so that the founders and creators of the project are also business partners that own Brag. I am Brag’s creative manager and myself and the team work on creative concepts for most of the projects.

My favorite fashion brand is Margiela, because it’s not clothes – it’s a character and a weird beautiful personality that you wear. Also, ACNE Studios and The Row – because it’s an ultimate fashion fantasy. Always and forever (I hope). Ellery – because it’s gorgeous. Band Of Outsiders – casual clothes that make you think – it’s so freaking simple! Why didn’t I think of it before? COS for the affordable impeccable quality and a perfect simplicity.

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