When it comes to fashion design, creating pieces that are undeniably dramatic and simple is no easy feat. Yet only four years after graduating from New York’s Parsons School of Design and starting her own label, Shoug Fardan has got it down. The Dubai-born Shoug founder describes it this way: “Each piece tells a story. The designs are stripped back to their fundamental form, delivering function with beauty.”
Returning to Dubai after college to establish her business and be near her family full of creatives was always part of Fardan’s plan. Today, she has a lot more plans and goals and fashions to make – as we learned during our recent interview with the burgeoning talent.
Q Can you give us the quick version of your career since you graduated?
A After graduating in 2017, I focused on launching my brand. I started working on a collection in collaboration with my artist aunt, where we merged minimal line art with constructed fashion. From there, I joined a one-year program called Azyame, part of the Irthi Contemporary Council. Here, I built more of a business foundation and established my brand identity with the help of a dedicated mentor. I also interned at Cartier Middle East for 10 months last year to gain more experience.
Q Does your Emirati heritage play a role in your work?
A It plays quite a big role in my design aesthetic – it’s part of my brand DNA in a way. My Emirati heritage serves as a starting point for new ideas that I deconstruct before giving a modern, contemporary feel.
Q What materials do you work with?
A I use natural fibers, such as cotton, silks and, sometimes, wools. I create all my prototypes from recycled fabrics and old samples I have around the studio.
Q How do you feel about slow/fast fashion?
A I believe responsible designers work hand in hand with responsible consumers. I try and create timeless pieces that customers would want to keep for a long time and wear over and over again.
Q Who is your typical customer and where does she wear your designs?
A The person I design for is an innovator. She is ahead of trends and has a creative mind. She appreciates people who think individually and recognize beauty. My customer likes to feel different, stand out among others, whether she’s going to a special family event or a fashion event.
Q What are you loving in your current collection?
A My favorite piece in my Inheritance collection, in collaboration with the Irthi Contemporary Council, is the Awa Trench Coat. The back of the coat has a bias cut of a printed fabric with a photograph of my grandmother on it. It will be available on Elevenish, a new platform for emerging designers and talents.
Q Do you feel at a disadvantage with regards to fashion designers in established fashion capitals such as Paris, London, Milan and New York?
A No. In Dubai, regional-based designers have an advantage because the public knows how special and exclusive they are.
Q What’s most needed to boost the fashion industry in the MENA region?
A More community platforms and spaces for all. We need less competition and more of a sense of community and support for one another.