After working with fast fashion brand Top Shop in the Gulf, Ragheb decided it was time to re-evaluate her approach to consumerism, and founded her own brand, Buena Onda.
“The inspiration for Buena Onda arose from a desire for greater simplicity, beauty and quality within my material investments,” says the Los Angeles-born Palestinian entrepreneur. “Buena Onda” – a Spanish phrase, which loosely translated means “good wave,” – made its debut in the summer of 2016 with a collection of three T-shirts – the foundation of many a summer wardrobe.
“We sourced our fabrics and trims from South Korea and Japan in search of the finest, long-lasting materials that also felt like a dream. Our signature cut-out details at the back of each top introduced an original design among our essentials,” said Ragheb. Of course, many questioned her approach and found it hard to believe that a brand could achieve great success with just three garments once a year. However, “When you’re creating premium quality items at inclusive price points, profitability follows,” observes Ragheb.
From one drop to another
Lebanese Roni Helou, one of the region’s best known sustainable fashion designers, said that he finds the Buena Onda model “intriguing”. There’s a suggestion that the pace at which the fashion industry moves is too fast, with many creative directors complaining about the four-season calendar –Spring/Summer, pre-Fall, Fall/Winter and Cruise.
Buena Onda aims to be a complete disruptor. “After years in the market, it was evident to me that the way the world was doing business was calling for a change,” said Ragheb, who believes in the principle of waste not, want not.
Founded by Payal Kshatriya Cerri, Sarayu is a Dubai-born, Paris-based international consulting agency that specializes in the “conscious” luxury fashion space and has worked closely with Dubai Design Fashion Council (DDFC). Cerri echoes Helou’s sentiment: “Buena Onda’s offer is a sound, easy, lifestyle mix. I like how they have pieces that tell a story from one drop to another. Boxer shorts, a versatile jacket, a skateboard.” Though she does wonder if three pieces is “too little”, even for an ultra-slow fashion brand.
“The key drivers behind Buena Onda were not the numbers, or the desire to make it on to some list of top trends. The vision is designed to offer a radical approach; a fresh set of principles to the way the world builds brands,” explains Ragheb.
Ragheb makes 100 units of each piece to start. “Though we may have numerous ideas around the items we wish to create, challenging ourselves to deliver a minimal collection of three items inspires us to release only the designs that feel most true to the brand universe and essence,” she says.
A SUMMER STORY
Summer is Ragheb’s chosen season, as it is works with the brand’s philosophy; summer is when we tend to slow down, we take a pause from our daily life to enjoy the outdoors. Each collection builds on last summer’s items, “Our collections are linear, which means that each collection connects to the next one. Should you collect them all, over time you’ll have the ultimate set of premium items for a quality summer lifestyle,” explains Ragheb.
This clear narrative means that Ragheb is able to attract a niche of loyal customers and nuanced fashion consumers. By staying away from wholesale, she can host her own e-commerce and offline channels which gives her control over the pace of sales and merchandise planning. She has hosted pop-ups in Copenhagen – where she lives –, Los Angeles and Hong Kong.
Time will tell if other brands will be able to replicate this model and still be profitable with such a limited range of products.