Young, Arab and Proud

“We Need More Arab Designers With a Distinct Point of View”

Ghada Al Subaey answers Pulse’s questions.

Ghada Al Subaey is the very active and always surprising president and creative director of 1309, a ready-to-wear label that embodies both the cool and the contemporary, established in 2015. The collections she creates, a pure celebration of women, draw inspiration from art, nature, and global culture, and her brand combines designs that embody fluidity with an elegant approach; a refined statement that constantly beautifies women and glorifies their characters.

In 2017, the brand expanded to accessories, pottery and also introduced its own prints collaborating with Arab artists. 1309 is an authentic reflection of the life and style of its founder. The looks are effortlessly elegant, the pieces are versatile by design. They can go from the city to the beach; each piece can be mixed and matched with absolute ease.

In an effort to encourage mindful purchasing habits, Ghada Al Subaey constantly encourages customer to reevaluate the relationship society has with clothing. The brand continues to focus on sustainable materials, processes, and production in order to improve and extend the life span of each garment.

PULSE’S TALKS TO… GHADA AL SUBAEY

What is the one thing you wish people would stop wearing?
I wish people would keep wearing what they want to wear, as long as it makes them happy and as long as it’s an expression of themselves and their unique style. I love it when people are unique in how they express their personality, so there is no fashion item at all that I would want people to stop wearing. In fact, I wish people were braver in expressing their personal style.

What creation of yours are you most proud of?
Generally, I am very proud of the collections where I have designed the prints myself. Seeing my creative ideas turn into a final product is very rewarding, as it is a huge risk.

If you were to choose one of your looks, or that of any other designer, to wear everyday for the rest of your life, what would it be?
It would definitely be jeans and a T-shirt.

Who do you dream of dressing?
Dua Lipa

When was the last time you pulled an all-nighter?
Sleep is very important to me and for my creative process, and I am a morning person anyway, so I rarely pull all-nighters.

Name five people, dead or alive, that you’d like to invite to a private dinner party at your house.
Cher, Rumi, my grandfather, Frank Sinatra, John F Kennedy JR.

What does the word “sustainability” mean to you?
Every day we try to incorporate and follow ethical business practices at our studios and workspace, be it to use less plastic, zero waste, or less paper. We only source vegan and environmentally friendly fabric and all the packaging material is non-toxic, biodegradable and recyclable.

What would the title of your Netflix documentary be?
365 days around the Sun.

Describe the MENA region in 3 words.
Diverse, rich with culture and celebrative.

How is “Young, Arab and Proud” translated in your work?
It is translated in the design aesthetic I follow and the Arab poetry and empowering statements that I embroider on the garments.

What is Arab DNA made of?
Our rich and flavourful culture.

What is the most common misconception about being an Arab?
Being privileged and close minded.

If you could travel in time to meet any Arab icon, who would it be, and why?
Sabah, because she truly understood and practiced the joy of living.

What is something that makes you uncomfortable about the MENA fashion industry and that you would like to see changed?
I would say, the lack of brand identity and brand message. I would also really like to see more designers with a distinct point of view and a universal message.

What is one Arab tradition you would want to change, and what is the one you adore?
What I adore is the tight-knit family relationships and what I’d like to change is to encourage more families to support their children in going for a career in art and design

What is the Arab dish you could eat every day?
Sheesh barak.

What is your favorite Arabic song that is often stuck on repeat in your playlist?
Abadi Aljawher’s 2Aloo Tara.

Um Kulthum or Fairuz?
Fairuz.

What is this one city in the MENA region you could live in forever, and why?
Marrakech, because there’s so much inspiration around the city.