|This article has been paid for and produced by Faspiration|
In a nascent industry struggling to achieve scale a new modest fashion brand believes its success lies not in volumes of identikit mass-produced apparel but limited ready-to-wear editions and customised made-to-measure individual pieces
“We’re dreaming big. We want to be a global brand,” said Dr. Tabassum Khan, chairman of new Dubai-based modest fashion label Faspiration.
Dr. Khan is better known in the Islamic economy as the Managing Director of AJ Pharma, the Saudi-Malaysia joint venture developing halal vaccines. He has a keen interest in the different sectors of the Islamic economy and wants to consolidate the overall impact of its development. The modest fashion sector, he believes, will only grow in the coming years.
Co-piloting with the fashion business novice is seven-year industry veteran Tara Khanzada, who serves as Faspiration’s creative director.
“I didn’t start out in modest fashion but worked in all fashion genres, and making everything from wedding dresses to ready-to-wear,” said Khanzada, who kicked off her career in India managing a fashion brand before moving to Dubai five years ago when she started to design for women who wanted to dress more modestly. She eventually worked with a modest fashion brand while also teaching fashion design.
“I started to design to the needs of the women here in Dubai and kept on designing more and more modest clothing. I was designing couture, evening wear, wedding gowns, abayas, and kaftans. I eventually got involved in modest fashion ready-to-wear,” she said.
Faspiration bridal couture
Her industry exposure and know-how led her to navigate Faspiration in a different direction. “What we have is definitely not selling in the stores in Dubai where modest fashion can be drab and is associated with dull colours.”
Faspiration, says Khanzada, will cater to the woman looking for modest fashion wear that fits her daily work and leisure routines, as well as her lifestyle demands for parties and more formal occasions such as weddings.
On its e-commerce store Faspiration retails ready-to-wear tops, tunics, dresses, trousers, skirts and evening gowns in fabrics such as chiffon, silk, satin, crêpe, jersey, and high-quality cotton, with an emphasis on prints and bright colours.
Alongside the retail ready-to-wear business, Faspiration also offers a made-to-measure service that has been active for a year. Customers in the UAE drop into their office to place their bespoke orders while others go online. “We have customers all over the world for the custom-made service. There is an option on the website for customers to fill in the detailed description of the outfit they want along with an option to upload a reference image of the same,” said Khanzada.
Timely production of limited editions and quality bespoke pieces can be a challenge but Faspiration believes it has overcome this by sourcing materials in-house from the UAE’s wholesale market and taking control of manufacturing. As a result, a custom-made dress could take as little as two weeks to complete depending on its specifications and detailing, and fresh ready-to-wear pieces can be turned around in three days.
Both business lines are driven by a UAE-based workshop, led by a seamstress with more than 25 years of experience working with high-profile individuals in the region.
Running its own manufacturing operations in house in Dubai is costlier than booking workshop space and time in cheaper markets such as Bangladesh, India or Pakistan but it does give the brand full control over its output. The brand believes quality control is worth the bigger price tag and is completely self-funded.
“We don’t outsource anything. We don’t want to compromise on getting things done in a cheap factory or mass producing. We do not produce and stock too many pieces,” said Khanzada.
“We concentrate more on the quality of the product. Our master seamstress is very, very skilled. She can produce a wedding dress all by herself and we have people who are skilled in making wedding outfits and evening gowns as well as ready-to-wear outfits.
“Prices for ready-to-wear dresses start at around 350 dirhams ($95) while abayas retail from around 650 dirhams ($175). Made-to-measure haute couture pieces start at 2,500 dirhams ($680) and can exceed 8,000 dirhams ($2,100) for elaborate gowns and intricate embroidery. “A lot of time and effort goes into making haute couture dresses, everything is hand-sewn,” added Khanzada.
Khanzada estimates the ready-to-wear retail business will earn the bulk of Faspiration’s revenues based on its sheer higher sales volume but returns on the made-to-measure service are a value-add as it gives the company direct access to customers. “We have an advantage with the haute couture business as we get to know our customers personally and keep a good relationship with them.”
She says the made-to-measure service is already seeing repeat customers, with orders from London, South Africa and Ghana. “We maintain a personal relationship with them and they trust our brand with what we offer them. In turn, they let others know their outfits are made by Faspiration. That’s how the brand name will spread, through word of mouth,” said Khanzada.
The company is also pursuing customer retention by offering 10 percent discount gift cards with each order, and keeping customer service flexible. With their made-to-measure clients, for example, personal relationships are kept up via emails and on social media channels, goody bag and each outfit comes with a one-year warranty for minor alterations, subject to the cost of the outfit.
Faspiration targets all modest modern women wanting to keep up with latest global trends and styles. “A lot of modest fashion brands are very classic and don’t like to experiment because they feel it’s a risk to experiment too much, for example, with different kinds of prints or bold colours. But the trend is changing,” said Khanzada.
The fashion forward modest fashion customer, according to her, does not want to be seen in something that’s outdated or out of fashion and Faspiration intends to align its own collections with global trends.
“People are looking for something new, say a new floral print or something related to what the wider fashion world has in collection, or something that is trending for 2018. From the recent haute couture shows in Europe we incorporated flared pants, frills, exaggerated sleeves, collars, and a lot of floral prints,” she said.
The biggest challenge for the company at this stage of its life cycle is getting its name out into the global market.
Faspiration focusses on the GCC region, followed by Africa, USA, Asia and Europe.
To reach the global market, especially the core modest fashion forward demographic, Faspiration is first turning to U.S.-based social media influencer Summer Albarcha, the blogger behind Hipster Hijabis. She shot a promotional campaign with the brand in April and has agreed to a collaboration to promote Faspiration on her social media channels. Albarcha has a substantial following on Instagram of close to 400,000 and is a top 1 percent social media fashion influencer as ranked by social media analytics and intelligence platform Klear.
Khanzada is confident Faspiration can succeed on the quality of its work. “Our biggest challenge at this point is reaching out to people around the world because it’s a new brand. But people will come to understand our quality and our designs. The way we design our outfits, people can wear them all over the world; they are not related to any specific region but what is trending in fashion.”
And she has set her benchmarks high.
“For example, if Chanel or Dior come up with collections, people all over the world want to wear them. That’s what we’re aiming for.”
|This article has been paid for and produced by Faspiration|
© Faspiration 2017