Noora Hefzi Moves Toward Sustainable Fashion

The Saudi designer talks about her design ethos, while sharing the impetus behind her latest collection

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Saudi Arabian fashion designer Noora Hefzi is based in Dubai, where she also produces her clothes. Her goal is to create one-of-a-kind pieces. She chats with FTA about her vision for her eponymous brand.

Q Why did you decide to launch your own brand?
A I started designing and creating my own clothes after high school, out of a desire to dress uniquely in pieces I did not find in the market. At every event, I would see people dressed in similar pieces and felt that there was no sense of individuality. I’ve been collecting fabrics since I was in high school and still do to this day, and I have always felt a sense of joy out of making something out of an exciting piece of fabric – like molding clay into a vase or sculpture.

Q What’s different about your latest collection?
A The collection is smaller than my past collections, and more seasonless and versatile to allow to it be used all year round, since I’ve always found the idea of seasonal fashion rather wasteful and commercial. It creates unnecessary pressure for the consumer and the designer to have a new collection ready by the change of season, when we all know we are just sold the idea that we actually need a new wardrobe each season.

Q Which are your signature clothing items?
A The palm tree kaftan, which I designed three years ago. It’s the most iconic piece and got the most media coverage and was worn by almost everyone in the Gulf as well as around the globe. The dresses with scattered pearls and the dress with tulle and pearls on its sleeves also were big hits.

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Q Where do you sell your designs?
A We used to sell on Ounass and in boutiques in Qatar and in Mira Y Mano in Riyadh, however we are currently only selling online and by special order. We participate in the Ataya exhibition annually, which is in Abu Dhabi, and that gives us a chance to see the customers face to face. We sell the most during that exhibition, since it’s also close to the time of Ramadan/Eid, for which people like to shop.

Q Who’s your main competition?
A I don’t consider any brand to be my competitor. I feel like everyone has their market and is doing their own thing. I have been told that my pieces remind customers of these designers: Sandra Mansour, Lanvin and Sotra.

Q Can you describe your customer?
A Ever since I started designing, I designed with myself as a customer in mind. I noticed that my customers are also a reflection of me and have the same eye for uniqueness and sense of style. They appreciate the little details, the fine finishing and the luxurious fabrics used in each piece.

Q Why is locally made fashion suddenly so popular in Saudi Arabia and the GCC?
A Since there is huge competition in Saudi Arabia and the GCC region, I feel that local brands are now outdoing themselves and raising the bar each season. They are constantly thinking outside the box and trying to take their business to the next level. Locally made has recently become much more popular. People realized they could actually support the economy by purchasing locally made items, which are just as beautiful and well made as imported ones. The money remains in the country and goes to families and owners of small businesses, which helps the local economy remain healthy and stable rather than dependent on imported items.

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Q What makes Saudi Arabian and GCC designs different from other designs?
A Saudi and GCC designers know their market well and are constantly creating pieces that work for the market here, which is influenced by local culture and traditions. So modest designs with an urban feel to them are a specialty of designers in the region. It also takes into consideration the specific events and celebrations in the region and caters to those requirements.

Q What can we expect from the Noora Hefzi brand in the near future?
A My brand is about adding beauty to life, which I feel is aligned with my life purpose. It’s currently focused on clothing, however I plan to add jewelry and accessories, shoes and lifestyle products. I enjoy wardrobe editing, styling and curating looks, so I would like to start offering that service for my customers as well.