Can This Activewear Brand Be Your Next Workout Buddy?
Entrepreneur Kelly-Marie Hodgkin is on a mission.
The art of juggling business and passion projects is something that Kelly-Marie Hodgkin has mastered. Establishing modelling and promotions agency Lush Group in Dubai in 2007 after a successful modelling career of her own, followed by an appointment as Director of global media group PPMG, Dubai-based British entrepreneur has turned her sights to something new: Gym Clothing Co. This soon-to-be mum of three is the Co-Director of the home-grown activewear brand that combines business, fashion, and fitness – three of Kelly’s greatest loves.
Founded in the UAE by former semi-professional footballer and PE teacher Max Bissell, Gym Clothing Co. was created to deliver high-performance activewear combining quality, style, durability, and value. Fiercely proud of its GCC roots – as its name, logo, and acronym suggest – the brand offers an extensive product selection inspired by the dynamic landscape, demanding weather conditions, and picturesque colour palette of the UAE.
After wearing Gym Clothing Co.’s separates for her workouts, Kelly was initially approached to serve as an ambassador and fitness model, but was quickly convinced to expand her involvement with the brand. Joining Max (along with fellow fitness enthusiast and entrepreneur Jamie Cormack) as a Co-Director and equal partner, Kelly is now able to to inject both her commercial prowess and creative talents into the brand as the team moves into its next stage of expansion, having recently launched in the UK.
Watch The Video: In Conversation with Kelly-Marie Hodgkin
“Gym Clothing Co. has done an incredible job of building a loyal following here in the UAE, and it’s a really exciting time now as we expand into the UK,” says Kelly. “Along with developing new product lines, we’re also focusing on prenatal fitness education, which is very close to my heart, having worked out regularly during my first two pregnancies. I’m currently expecting my third child, so I’m passionate about motivating other mums-to-be to stay active in a safe way.”
With comfort and confidence high on the agenda, the women’s collection is a real reflection of Kelly’s personal style and demands of her workout wardrobe. It features high waists, soft seams, subtle contouring, and lightweight materials, all in a beautiful range of colours.
“We want to inspire people to be more active, challenge their limits, and strive for their best while feeling their best – and wearing the right fitness clothes is a crucial part of that,” adds Kelly. “Now more than ever, value is just as important as quality and, as an affordable luxury brand, Gym Clothing Co. customers are empowered to stay fit without worrying about their budget.”
Available online at gymclothingco.com for delivery across the UAE, the brand has also launched direct delivery in the UK through a dedicated logistics partner.
No more mornings spent worrying about what to wear!
It’s 2022 and, as the pandemic is slowing down, the world is starting to return to the workplace. If you’re eager to get back out there, but have completely forgotten what it takes to get ready for a workday, allow our workwear capsule collection to relieve some of that morning stress. What is a capsule collection? It’s a selection of concise and cohesive pieces that interchangeably play well together and leave you looking and feeling presentable. This collection includes curated pieces ranging from tops to bottoms and even handbags.
All Buttoned Up
There is no better basic clothing item than the iconic button-up collared shirt. My recommendation is to have one in a classic white colour that is well-tailored, and another in a playful style for a bit of versatility in a neutral colour or a print of your choice.
Want to Keep It Classic? Check out the classic white Ralph Lauren Oxford Slim fit. It’s clean, chic, and to the point.
How to Style: A tip that works for me, as a taller woman, is to purchase the men’s version of this shirt. Not only are the arms longer, but the bodice is as well. It has a bit of stretch in the fabric, too.
Want to Change It Up? Are you looking for a button-up that is a classic white colour, but comes with a few more bells and whistles? Check out this beautiful tuxedo-style shirt from COS.
How to Style: This print is simplistic, with its impact being in colour, so it can easily pair with just about any piece from the capsule.
The Perfect Pant
Because not all body types are created equal, there is definitely an art to acquiring the perfect pair of work pants for each person. When it comes to a capsule wardrobe, the main point is to find the pair that is versatile and can be worn with all the other pieces.
Take Me Down Tapered Lane: Try these Reiss high-waisted trousers in a tailored fit and available in both regular and petite fit, as well as black and navy. I suggest selecting both colours for a range of style options.
How to Style: These tailored tapered style pants fit just about any figure as they are a higher rise and a slimmer leg, giving the illusion of longer legs. They can be paired with either of the blazers below and both the flats and bags in this capsule.
Be a Trail(Blazer)
Blazers are often the finishing piece to a professional look, bringing all the elements together in a polished way. Every workwear capsule wardrobe needs a blazer in black as well as a versatile statement-making coloured blazer.
Always Bet on Black: Want to only make a small splash in your bank account? Then take this all-black blazer from Tahari, a brand known for creating classic quality womenswear pieces at an attainable price point. Plus, it’s single-breasted (one button), so it pulls at the waist, creating a great shape.
Want to Splurge? Then try the Jabina Fundamental Blazer from Boss. The name says it all with ‘fundamental’, which makes it functional across your capsule wardrobe. Like the Tahari option, it has only one button, creating a fitted silhouette.
How to Style: Pair the blazer together with any of the aforementioned pieces, like the COS Tuxedo Shirt and the tapered pants from Reiss.
Turn Heads with Red: Looking for a not-so-basic blazer that makes a bold statement? If so, the ‘Alexis’ from House of Devereaux is an awesome option. This shade of red works with all skin tones and is a great addition to your capsule wardrobe.
How to Style: Red is such a versatile colour, working with both blue and black. The ‘Alexis’ can therefore be worn with either of the pants from Reiss as well as the button-down shirts suggested.
When it comes to a work wardrobe, you need a great pair of footwear that is not only fashionable, but also functional. A great pair of quality flats will last you a long time, and keep you comfortable and cute all day long.
Keep It Cute Cole: Cole Haan has been a footwear phenom for decades, and its best-selling ‘Cloudfeel’ ballet flats come coloured in both black as well as brush-black, along with medium and wide widths. It’s made with “cushioned Grandfoam to make you feel like you’re walking on a cloud”,with a cute little bow detail that adds a feminine touch.
How to Style: Because both flats are neutral, they can be paired with each piece, from the black blazer to the red blazer and both bags below. The black pair can be worn with either the red blazer or black blazer, while the brush pair of flats can be worn with each look.
Bag It Up and Go
One of the final pieces needed for a great capsule wardrobe is a functional bag that holds all the things you need to build your empire. It must come with compartments and be easy to carry while coordinating with your complete capsule look.
Cole”Partments: Finding great flats along with a great bag from the same brand makes your shopping so much easier. The ‘Grand Ambition’ bag from Cole Haan fits the bill of providing chic style with a bucket silhouette, functionality with multiple compartments, as well as a back phone pocket – not to mention it comes with both a top handle as well as a crossbody strap, depending on how you wish to carry it. Plus, it has feet, so it stands on its own. It’s available in three neutral colours: black, British tan, and oat.
How to Style: All three colours of this functionally fabulous handbag are neutral, so you can’t go wrong with any selection. Pair with either a blazer or trousers.
For more tips on how to style this complete workwear capsule wardrobe, check out a few of the possible looks below and how they work together. And if you need assistance in creating a personalised capsule wardrobe, the House of Devereaux and its capsule wardrobe services can assist.
Your search for summer’s hottest swimsuits just ended.
If you’re packing your suitcase for somewhere fabulous this summer, there’s one piece that you simply can’t go without : the all-versatile swimsuit. Heck, you don’t just swim and sunbathe by the beach or the swimming pool in it. You can wear it as a leotard when you’re doing yoga at dawn, under your jeans when you’re shopping, and with a sarong when you’re sipping sundowners – a great swimming suit goes so much further than your average bikini. And while there’s always a time and a place for a terrific two-piece, we’re all about the one-piece wonder this summer, especially when there are so many super-cool cossies out there! Here are our top picks.
But it’s just so bright! I’m not that bold! Would any of these colours even work for me?
These questions come to mind for many women when they consider the neon colour trend. Here, I’m going to help you figure out how to take your summer wardrobe to the next level and finesse one of fashion’s hottest trends for summer 2022. Whether you want to go full-on bold or embrace just a tiny bit of fluorescent, here’s how to do it.
My future’s so bright I’ve got to wear shades!
If you’re unsure about anything neon, try a pair of summer sunnies, like these fun options below.
Want to Splurge?
Check out the Medusa Biggie Sunglasses from Versace that were made famous by Notorious B.I.G. in the ’90s. When it comes to fashion, we’re definitely seeing a resurgence of the very recent past. These shades are available in three different colours (fluorescent fuchsia, acid green, and fluorescent yellow).
How to Style It
Pair it with a sundress, a subtle pair of sandals, and some hoop earrings. These glasses are bold enough, so there’s no need to overdo it.
Fluorescent Fuchsia Medusa Biggie Sunglasses, Versace
Are you looking for something that’s a bit more temporary, but will still raise your summer style temperature? Then don’t be afraid to experiment with extra loud shades for your next mani-pedi appointment with neon colours or nail art.
Want a Cute Little Coat?
Why not try Cote nail colours? They come in orange, pink, green, and yellow – and are vegan and cruelty-free! Cote also keeps the customer nail experience in mind, with formulas that are both long-lasting and chip-resistant.
Try a bit of nude along with a hint of neon nail art for some temporary abstract fun, like these custom gel press-on nails from En Route Nails on Etsy.
Lime Green Abstract Swirls Custom Press On Nails, Etsy
The Not-So-Basic Neon Bag
When it comes to trends, every woman wants a great bag that’s stylish yet versatile, so knowing which neon shade could work in your wardrobe is important. I find that pink is a solid bet for a beauty of any skin tone.
Want to Splurge?
Italian brand Pinko’s chain bag is the perfect size for fitting all of our stash, from mobile phones to makeup. Its pebble-leather finish also means that it’s always in style, from season to season. A take on its popular ‘Love’ bag, this beauty seems to only be found in-store in the UAE, so I would act fast!
Pink Chain Bag, Pinko
Want a Splash?
Check out this almost five-star rated and reviewed quilted crossbody with chevron detail and chain accent on Amazon. It also comes with a quaint little inside pocket – big enough to fit an iPhone!
Pair it with a clean white T-shirt and summer denim, and out the door you go!
Neon from Tip to Toe
If you’re like most women who love a great pair of shoes and wouldn’t dare miss a moment to find something special for summer, check out these brightly hued options.
Want to Splurge?
Like Amina Muaddi, Malone Souliers has made a major splash in the region – and across the world – for its dynamic shoe designs and use of PVC. The ‘Maureen’ mules are no exception, with a stiletto heel and sharp pointed toe.
Malone Souliers x Ounass Maureen 100 Mules in PVC, Ounass
Want a Splash?
Massimo Dutti is known for its classic interpretation of modern trends, and these heeled leather sandals made from Nappa sheepskin deserve be seen at your next Sunday brunch.
Wear a nice, muted dress or jumpsuit that will allow your colourful footwear to be the focal point and conversation starter.
Now, This Is Next-Level Neon
This is for our ladies who love to live out loud and use style to express themselves. Whether you choose a dress, a printed jumpsuit, or a statement blazer, these styles are definitely extra when it comes to neon extravagance.
Want to Dress to Impress?
This fluorescent green midi dress from Zara comes with a dose of extra flair, courtesy of key buttonholes on both sides.
Open button holes seem too daring? Throw a white button-down underneath and pair with medium-wash skinny jeans and heeled sandals with black sunnies to balance the look.
Want a Playful Look?
Known for its vibrant prints, Desigual creates styles for those who aren’t afraid of a bit of colour. The ‘Coral’ jumpsuit is both beach- and brunch-ready with billowy open bottoms (not to mention that it’s made from sustainable materials).
Throw on a denim jacket and chunky statement necklace for a bit more pop.
Want to Blaze through Summer?
House of Devereaux specialises in custom-made suiting, and its latest collection Tres Jolie is all about fun details for summer. Case in point: the playful fringe of the ‘Fete’ blazer in a bright, neon green paired with the ‘Ambre’ shorts. All items are made to order.
We all know that abayas are often worn in countries where Islam is the dominant religion, such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, and the UAE. However, they’re becoming increasingly popular in other parts of the world, Europe and North America included.
Abayas can be worn in many different styles, and are often decorated with embroidery or other embellishments. They’re also an excellent option for modest dressing and can be styled in various ways to suit different occasions. There are many reasons why women choose to wear abayas, including religious beliefs, cultural traditions, fashion, and personal style.
Incidentally, if you are interested in giving them a try, there are many places where you can buy one. Abayas are available at a wide range of prices, depending on the quality and style of the garment. You can often find abayas for sale in department stores, online retailers, and specialty shops. Here, we reveal the 15 best places to buy an abaya in the Middle East, whether you’re on the lookout for something traditional or modern.
A woman should always be in with the latest fashion that fits her personal style, and Hanayen is committed to inspiring you to look beautiful and stylish. The designers and sales associates work with you to ensure you look your best. Hanayen offers a good collection of abayas, as well as sheilas and gashwas. The abayas at this store come in various designs, such as the popular Swarovski-encrusted abaya dress and an array of colours.
Hanayen, multiple branches in UAE and Oman, 04 2843666, hanayen.com
2. Al Motahajiba
Al Motahajiba’s is a one-stop destination for abayas. This store has several branches spread across the UAE, especially Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Its 36 branches are located across the Middle East, out of which 10 are in the UAE. They have a wide variety of designs to suit your taste and preferences. This store offers formal abaya dresses for special occasions and trendy casual abayas for everyday wear that shoppers highly recommend.
Kashkha offers traditional design elements focused on elegance and quality. They provide a variety of styles so you can choose one to fit your body type, personality, and lifestyle. The store’s collection is inspired by Arabian heritage and exudes sophistication. Dar Al Kashkha uses authentic, Arab-inspired designs and quality fabrics to create the styles women have loved for generations. Kashkha custom makes all clothing so that each piece is unique with hand-made embroidery, needlework, and elegant embellishments. They offer diverse collections of abaya dresses that you can choose from, ranging from a casual look for the day to a sleek and chic look for a night out.
Dar Al Kashkha, multiple branches in the middle east, 04 284 0440, kashkha.com
4. Abu Hail Centre
Located in Deira, Abu Hail Centre is the leading destination for women in the Dubai looking for an abaya dress. From unique luxury designs to affordable styles, Abu Hail Centre presents you with an opportunity to get a one-stop fix for all your abaya needs and worth the trek. The Emirati-styled products are traditionally designed, hand-crafted, and beautifully embroidered. Their in-house tailors make alterations or can custom create a new abaya dress that will perfectly fit your style, taste, and preference.
Abu Hail Centre, Abu Hail Road, Deira, Dubai, 04 2669600
5. Nuna Atelier
Nuna’s abayas are loved by A-list celebrities from around the world, including model Kendall Jenner and reality star Khloe Kardashian. The abaya dress from Nuna’s collection gives traditional clothing a modern twist. Their abaya dress raises the bar on stylish, yet modest fashion. Each abaya is custom-made to fit your taste and uses high-quality fine materials. By shopping here, you can be sure that every detail of your look will be perfect for any event you have coming up. Nuna Atelier will work directly with you to ensure that each piece is precisely what you want.
Nuna Atelier, Al Sayyah Building, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, 04 340 9100, nunaatelier.com
Chi-ka has provided the UAE market with a one-of-a-kind abaya dress, infusing Japanese inspired design into an Emirati establishment. The brand’s primary appeal revolves around its kimono patterns, which can be found in its classic, modern, and avant-garde collections. All of their abayas are made using craftsmanship and attention to detail, combining oriental and Arabic designs into a unique style that is elegant and versatile.
Abaya Mall offers a wide range of shopping choices for affordable, quality abayas. Located in Mirdif, you can shop freely at this mall that houses a wide range of abaya dress retailers, both large and small. The mall’s on-site tailors can even make you a personalized abaya. You’ll also discover bridal outfits and other retail establishments at the mall. Abaya Mall offers a wide range of choices. Visit Abaya Mall, and you’ll find the latest fashion trends fabricated by talented tailors. Whether you’re looking for vibrant colours or subtle styles, you can find what you need here.
Abaya Mall, 24 B St, (As Beside Star International School) Mirdif, Dubai, 04 251 4071, abayamall.com
8. Abaya Place
This well-known abaya shop is the next stop on our list of the best places to shop in Abu Dhabi. Their inventory consists of a wide range of collections and designs. They also have formal abayas with stone-studded details, ideal for special occasions. This shop has various items that you can choose from, including jalabiyas and sheilas in multiple colours. If you’re looking for quality and style, then this is where you need to be. The top-rated shop has beautiful and high-quality abayas at a reasonable price. This store has one of the largest collections of abayas in the city.
Abaya Place, Madinat Zayed Shopping and Gold Center, Abu Dhabi, 02 633 8008
9. Dazzle Abaya Boutique
If you want to buy abayas, and you don’t want to spend a small fortune, Dazzle Abaya Boutique provides excellent value for the money. This abaya shop in Abu Hail Center offers a wide range of everyday outfits for modest fashion at budget pricing. You can choose from traditional black abayas to solid shades of grey, navy, and more, or those with complex trims or lacework. According to one shopper, this store offers the most wonderful abaya shopping experience with customer service going above and beyond.
Dazzle Abaya Boutique, NMC Building and Abu Hail Center, Dubai, 05 6974 5500, dazzleabaya.com
10. VIP Lady Abaya
VIP Lady Abaya is your ultimate destination for the latest fashion and designer wear. Make your style statement with an elegant VIP Lady design, including abayas, sheilas, gowns, kaftans, and farashas. Choose from a variety of contemporary and exquisite fashionable designs.
VIP Lady Abaya, Al Wasit Center, Wasit Street, Sharjah, 054 336 2621
11. Dar Al Oyoon Abaya & Sheila Shop Sharjah
This store offers a wide range of trendy abaya dresses and sheilas. You can pick from a large selection of elegant, classy, casual, or chic abaya options in various colours, fabrics, and designs. With their vast selection of unique abaya dresses, they have a design for every occasion and budget. Their customer service will ensure you have the right look for any event or season. With a 4.6-star review on Google, you will surely love this shop as they feature beautiful designs with their abayas.
Dar Al Oyoon Abaya & Sheila Shop Sharjah, Al Habtoor Tower – Shop: 39/C, Ground Floor – King Faisal Road, Sharjah, 055 322 7796, daraloyoonabaya.com
12. Al Batool Abaya Shop Sharjah
One of the top-rated shops in Sharjah, this store has a collection of abayas in different colours, styles, and designs. They have high-quality and stylish abaya dresses and are located in the Gold Souq, Sharjah. The professional staff members are on hand to assist you in finding the perfect abaya dress that’ll flatter your body type, so you can choose from a wide selection of high-quality fabrics and comfortable designs that suit your taste. This store is loved by shoppers, having awesome collections made with quality materials at an affordable price. They also do alterations and stitching according to your need.
Mauzan is a great place to find a high-quality abaya dress that suits every frame and occasion. With a focus on elegance and femininity, these fashion-forward abaya designs feature beading, soft and flowing fabrics, and flattering cuts. The designs are delicate and beautiful and represent modern Arab women. You can find their stores in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Al Ain. Mauzan is highly regarded by shoppers.
The Al Araba Sheila and Abaya store is located at the Madinat Zayed Shopping and Gold Centre in Abu Dhabi. You can explore the latest modest fashion trends with different abaya dress styles for women, jalabiyas for men, and sheilas. If you are looking for an abaya that reflects your unique style and personality, both in fashion and tradition, this store is the place to go. After all, an abaya is more than just a piece of clothing; it represents Arab culture! This store features beautiful, emerging abaya dress designs focusing on elegance and femininity.
Al Araba Shiela and Abaya Trading, Madinat Zayed Shopping Centre, Muroor Road (East Road), Madinat Zayed, Abu Dhabi City, 02 621 3349
Louzan Fashion has various abayas to pick from, whether you’re seeking formal abayas or more practical ones for everyday wear. The Dubai-based luxury abaya dress brand offers the largest variety of abayas in the local market, carefully crafted for your style and comfort. Whatever your preference in design or silhouette, Louzan features the perfect style for you – whether it’s a printed silk abaya dress from their summer collection or one of their more traditional designs featuring prints with delicate embroidery.
Louzan, Dubai Festival City Mall, Dubai Festival City, 04 269 8545, louzanfashion.com
In a world where impossible body types (read: skinny) are glorified, regardless of the cost, International No Diet Day is a celebration that deserves more recognition. Marked annually on May 6 to promote body acceptance and body shape diversity, it aims to help both men and women worldwide to appreciate their own bodies – a mission that Ghaliah Amin is all too familiar with.
She is widely hailed as Saudi Arabia’s first plus-size model, but in the process of breaking boundaries and defying stereotypes, prefers simply to be known as ‘a model from Saudi Arabia’. The Dubai-based model and TV host is also an outspoken body positivity activist – and full of surprises. For starters, she has a master’s degree in Art History and Museum Studies, a fact reflected in every inch of her eclectic apartment, where we spent an afternoon discussing filters, photo retouching, family pressure to lose weight, and the often-unseen resilience of Saudi women.
She also founded the Ana Ghaliah (I am precious) social media initiative to promote body positivity after first-hand witnessing the lack of diversity and inclusion in the fashion world. “Beauty is all about becoming the best version of you,” she says, setting out to remind all women that they’re precious, regardless of their shape or size. And because the correlation between a positive body image and improved mental health is undeniable, we’d be remiss not to celebrate this model – and role model – for her self-love message on International No Diet Day, today.
Emerging from the culturally rich Middle East, the modest movement has taken the fashion scene by storm. Several luxury and high street brands have released modest-friendly collections, including kaftans, tunics, and maxi dresses to quench our sartorial thirst. Here, we share our top picks to remain comfortably stylish in Ramadan – and beyond.
The White Shirt
A white shirt is undoubtedly a staple. Upgrade yours with this summery yet chic version that features cutwork embroidery.
A shirt dress is one of the most versatile items in your wardrobe – wear it over wide-legged pants as a long-line top, unbuttoned as a light coat, or with knee-high boots as a dress (if it’s long enough).
The Middle East is buzzing with creative talent and, for every success story like Huda Kattan and Natalie Trad, there are countless brilliant designers and entrepreneurs waiting to be discovered. But before you make it really, really big, you have to start small – enter: four emerging regional brands that you may not know, but should.
Somewhere between the pandemic and the climate crisis, online store Touchless was created in 2020 by two Bahraini sisters with a passion for design and a finger on the pulse of what was needed to deal with the new normal. Starting with a 3D-printed device that helps to minimise contact with everyday surfaces – from door handles and lift buttons to shopping bags and taps – followed by 3D-printed washable wallets that carry just face masks and credit cards, the sisters quickly moved into creating 3D-printed handbags.
Lightweight, versatile, and sustainable, each of the bags are guaranteed to be 100% designed and 3D-printed in Bahrain. And they’re as beautiful and contemporary as they are functional. The designers have amassed quite the following since they launched, with pieces being snapped up by fans as far afield as London and New York.
“I was born and raised in Raleigh NC, but I pretty much make sure every person I meet knows about my Lebanese roots!” says Reem Alawar Mosleh, the one-woman show behind accessories brand Lunae. With a vision of creating high-quality, minimalistic jewellery for everyday wear, her collection is pretty, perfect for stacking, and – most importantly – ultra-affordable. “I’m a big fan of comfort in fashion. This is why the jewellery I source is always water-resistant and truly comfortable to wear throughout the day and night – I literally sleep, work out, and shower in my jewellery.”
Created by an Arab princess for women of the world, SEE.MAS offers a basic capsule of five everyday classics in its collection: the Tee, the Shirt, the Cami, the Pant, and the Dress – each of which has been designed keeping elegance and modesty in mind. Founded in Riyadh by HRH Princess Nouf Bander Al Saud after being unable to find clothes that fit her body shape nor her lifestyle, SEE.MAS was created specifically to address the needs of the modern Arab woman, using a neutral colour palette and form-flattering silhouettes as its foundation.
With an entirely female workforce, the company’s aim was simple: design smart and refined essentials that made the wearer feel beautiful, comfortable, and empowered. Sidestepping the traditional sizing system that she believed ignored the shape of women across the region, the Saudi princess developed a special fit system that’s based on real measurements of real women living in the Gulf. Ensuring the collection was not only thoughtfully designed but mindfully created, each piece is crafted from high-quality and environmentally friendly fabrics, making this a label both size-friendly and sustainably focused.
Founded by Reem Al Khalifa, Bahrain-based apothecary Green Bar is all about raising awareness of the healing power of plants native to the Arab region, and harnessing that power into effective skincare products. Offering a full range of face, body, and home goods – as well as spa experiences to rediscover the healing culture of the region – products are handcrafted using as many botanicals as Reem can source from the Arabian Peninsular. These come not only from local farms, but also Green Bar’s own gardens.
Quality-tested and bottled in small batches in its onsite laboratory to ensure that the freshest possible products make it to the shelves, all Green Bar ingredients are 100% natural and non-toxic, with only the finest botanical cold-pressed oils, all-natural fragrances, and directly sourced raw ingredients to ensure total traceability and transparency of origin.
Sweet Dreams: This Sleepwear Brand Is Not Like the Others
Meet entrepreneur Natasha Inman.
As yet another challenging year draws to a close, we’re continuing our series on female entrepreneurs, recognising the female entrepreneurs who turned an obstacle into an opportunity. Case in point? Natasha Inman, who moved from the UK to Dubai in February 2020, just as the pandemic struck.
Like countless women around the globe, she spent a lot of her time during lockdown in her pyjamas and was therefore inspired to create something that looked sophisticated and elegant, but was super comfortable to wear – et voilà! Luxury sleepwear and loungewear brand State of REM was awakened. Today, Natasha is all about focusing her business on the things most important to her: living a healthy lifestyle, raising awareness around mental well-being, and treating oneself to things that elicit joy.
State of REM
What was your ‘lightbulb moment’?
I don’treally recall having a lightbulb moment. I remember thinking I wanted to try to create something better than what was in the market already in terms of sleepwear, as well as make a brand based around community, self-care, and wellness. I don’t have any experience in textiles or fashion design, but I’ve always been very interested in business and entrepreneurship. I’ve also always wanted to create something bigger than myself, so I saw this as a challenge. Now, my vision is to be the number one place globally for sleepwear, loungewear, and gifts, all of which are sleep-related. I want to use my brand to raise awareness of mental health and the support that is out there for people.
What makes your business unique?
I like to think of State of REM as a community, not just a brand. We create luxury sleepwear and loungewear investment pieces. We source the best materials and ensure every item we produce passes the most stringent of quality checks. I want my customers to be blown away with the quality and service and, so far, I’ve had a lot of happy customers.
Above all, I want to support a positive change in the world, and for me to use my brand to raise awareness of mental health and financially contribute to mental health support is an amazing feeling. State of REM is a platform where people can get self-care tips and quotes, discover ideas on living a healthy life, and even engage if they’re struggling with their mental health. And I don’t think there are many brandsin the region that are doing this right now. As the brand grows, this emphasis will only get stronger.
What has been your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?
Seeing some well-known regional influencers buy my product felt great – people I’ve been following for a while and whose style I’ve admired are now wanting to wear my pyjamas. Also, being able to donate AED 2,500 to Al Jalila Foundation after only 12 weeks was a proud moment. Building your own business is about making money, but being part of a positive change in the world is so satisfying.
Which other entrepreneurs do you admire?
I admire anyone who puts themselves out of their comfort zone and executes. It’s easy for a lot of people to have an idea, but to take it right through to execution and have that resilience and patience to keep going takes a lot of character. I tend to follow Reece Wabara (founder of Manière De Voir), George Heaton (founder of Represent Clo), Grace Beverley (founder of Tala & Shreddy), Rokeya Khanum (founder of Khanum’s), Conna Walker (founder of House of CB), Nicola Elliott (founder of NEOM). I admire them because most have founded something from nothing, creating a community and core cult following through just being a great brand. They live and breathe their businesses, like I do. They inspire me and I learn a lot from these people.
Are you a part of any mentor or support groups?
Not officially, but I’ve managed to grow my network considerably since starting State of REM, with lots of entrepreneurs and I connecting via social media. We share ideas, successes, and failures. I prefer to learn from podcasts and books. I think it’s amazing how I can listen to an inspiring entrepreneur on Spotify for an hour whilst he offloads 20 years of experience onto me.
Who is your biggest female business icon, and why?
I have lots of favourites, but I’d say Jo Malone. I’ve read her book and listened to lots of her podcasts. She’s a true inspiration – so many setbacks, yet an amazing amount of resilience. Whenever I think times are tough, I remember people like her have been through a lot more and it really drags me through. Not to mention, she created a globally recognised brand and has now started another.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
“Never give up” is what keeps me going. There are so many examples of brands in every industry thatinitially struggled and arenow aspirational. Victoria Beckham didn’t make a profit for 11 years, Amina Muaddi is the most desired shoe company at the moment, yet she had a couple of failed businesses before that. Conna Walker had a failed jewellery brand, but is now every woman’s #girlbossgoals. There are so many examples, but the common denominator is that they never gave up and kept on going. An overnight success isn’t a feasible thing; everything takes time and effort.
At some point in our lives, we’ll all likely be hit by a style rut. The good news? It’s not permanent, and getting your groove back only takes a few simple steps. The difficult part, though, is how to recognise a style rut. Read on.
What are the signs of a style rut?
One of most recognisable signs is that you just don’t feel good about the clothes you have, so you end up wearing the same boring pieces all the time. You also find yourself not being creative, and putting thought into your outfits becomes too much of a chore for you.
The second sign is that when you find something you feel comfortable in, you buy as many pieces of it as you can, without questioning why – regardless of the quality and whether it fits your fashion style or not.
The third sign is when you start to hate shopping, and you only buy from one trusted brand that you have been buying from for ages.
The final sign is that you stay in your sports outfit (which could be your leggings and sport bra) the whole day – even when you are not exercising – just because it’s easy and comfortable.
If you recognise yourself in more than one of these signs, then it’s time to do something about it, starting with the following four tips. After all, life’s too short to wear boring clothes!
1. Learn to Let Go
Always start from your closet. Do a closet edit and be honest about each piece you have. If it doesn’t make you happy, get rid of it. Be strict when it comes to this. If you can’t ask for help from a wardrobe stylist, it is important to carry out this step without mistakes.
2. Change Your Old Habits
A style rut means stagnation in what you have been doing without any changes. Consider your hairstyle, for instance. Why not book an appointment with your hairdresser and talk your concerns through? Together, decide on a new haircut or colour – or both! How about your makeup and skincare routine? You could stand to benefit from some changes. Maybe add a new colour of lipstick? Or even get some new accessories?
3. Learn to Shop Differently
As a stylist and personal shopper, my clients often say that they hate shopping for various reasons and, mostly, it’s because they don’t want to be lost in a pile of clothes not knowing what to buy. I recommend starting your shopping trip at your closet. Take those pants or that skirt that you love wearing most, and try to find a top or shirt and a pair of shoes to go with it. If you don’t have any, shop only for those specific items. This way, you can avoid the overwhelming feeling of getting lost between store racks. Slowly, you can even build a new wardrobe with this plan.
4. Gym Clothes Are Only for the Gym
The last thing you should do is to go for errands in your sports outfit. It is important to know that activewear is only for the gym or wherever you’re doing your workout for the day. Once that’s done, you should change into your favourite jeans-and-tee combo or pants. Leggings should never be worn as pants – that’s why they’re called leggings.
As a last word, don’t be ashamed when you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see. Know that only you can work on improving your image, but once you do, you’ll feel so much better.
Dzovig van Kleef is an Abu Dhabi-based personal stylist and the founder of Style Codes. Follow her on Instagram here.
7 Takeaways from Our Conversation with Wild Fabrik
The ethical marketplace is on a mission.
In a city where fast fashion (unfortunately) reigns supreme, it’s time to acquaint with Wild Fabrik, a new online marketplace with purpose at its core. Created by a trio of passionate nature lovers who want to make sustainable style a lot more accessible, its curated selection of fashion, home, luxury, and self-care products hails from the likes of Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Poland, and Ecuador. Not only is Wild Fabrik on a mission to provide small, independent sustainable brands with a platform to sell their goods and create a living for themselves, but also ensure that they are paid fairly. A conversation with co-founder Gergana Abdulrahman brought with it plenty of takeaways about the realm of sustainable fashion. Here are our favourites.
1. Sustainable fashion is an ambiguous term.
“There are different ways that something can be sustainable, and it’s very difficult for it to be truly 100% sustainable. For example, when we select our brands and evaluate the materials being used, there’s a deeper element even then. Let’s talk about cotton: there’s a big movement around organic cotton, but that doesn’t reveal who picks it and how fairly they’re paid. That’s an element of sustainability. It doesn’t reveal that organic cotton takes more water to produce than regular cotton. Then again, there’s no chemical in the process, so in that sense, it is sustainable.
There really are so many components in sustainability, and that’s where the confusion sets in. You almost have to choose what is more important – is the fair trade element more important or the fabric that something is made of? Is it the process? Further down the line, the production process is another element – dye is one of the world’s major pollutants because leftover dye water usually ends up in landfills or even river water – so it’s very complex. What we hope to do at Wild Fabrik is educate shoppers by using little icons that describe exactly how each brand or each product is sustainable. At the end of the day, you just have to try your best to make more conscious decisions.”
2. Education is key when it comes to lasting change.
“As a region, we’re definitely behind in terms of knowledge when it comes to sustainability. We found out that people like the idea of purchasing ethically, but if you dig deeper and analyse their habits, you find that they’re just saying it because it feels good maybe? They’re not really practising it and they don’t realise it. It’s going to take time. There are some surprising things, though. For example, my husband and one of the co-founders is Emirati and his younger cousins, who are in their early 20s, are very much in tune with the sustainability side. That was a very interesting find for us. There’s a growing community of young people who are concerned and will steer the sustainability movement here.
Apart from that, we’re not at the point where everyone’s on the sustainability bandwagon, and actually that’s why we structured Wild Fabrik the way we did. We decided to find pieces that people will want to buy anyway, and then that’s giving them a step into the sustainability sphere. And once they’re in, you take the opportunity to educate them – which is usually the hardest part – through social media and other channels. And they learn. That’s how we all started – it can be a platform, a Netflix documentary, or some other trigger. Everyone will get on the right journey, it just takes time.”
3. Sustainable fashion can be affordable.
“Sustainable fashion is expensive, but I’ll tell you why I think it’s true and what we’re doing to combat it. When you look at what’s available, sustainable fashion is very expensive because we, as a society, are pushed to do a business a certain way. Everywhere you go, it’s always profit, profit, profit. Everyone wants to be a millionaire – and the idea is flawed in this sense. You have to take a lesser cut if you want sustainability to work. You have to do things for moral reasons, not just for profit. And as long as the business is seen as just for profit, then sustainability doesn’t work, so what we’re doing is taking a smaller percentage than anyone else within our business. We’re trying to do it for the right reasons and, if we make enough money to be okay in our lives, that’s enough. Whenever you have a lot of gap between the rich and the poor, someone is not getting paid fairly in the process.”
4. Not all fabrics are created equal.
“There’s this recycled fabric called Tencel that I like because it’s soft, so you’d actually want to buy it. I would gravitate away from anything polyester because there’s a lot of microplastics that come out when you’re washing it and end up in the ocean. Cotton is good, linen is the best – linen is actually the most waste-free fabric when it is produced. Something I would also say is stay away from the major brands like H&M and Zara if you can. Yes, they sell these fabrics, but they’re part of the bigger problem in terms of how much clothing they burn and how little they pay the people who make the clothes – this is the real problem. Even if they have a sustainable collection, how are their employees being treated? We need to start acknowledging that as part of the sustainability cycle.”
5. Mindset and purchasing habits go hand in hand.
“Personally, I haven’t felt the urge to shop lately – maybe because the need to buy faded after learning about everything? Not to say that I don’t want to shop anymore, but yes, there was a mindset shift. At some point, what matters in your life and how content you are with what you have is more about your state of mind, your state of being. If you’re going to change your shopping habits, you have to have the right mindset. You have to realise why you’re shopping because some people shop to fulfill themselves or fix a bad day. I was one of those people! It was a lot of mind work that led to this moment, but I’m not perfect. None of us are, and that’s why we wanted to create a place where sustainability doesn’t feel intimidating.”
6. Think quality, not quantity.
“Rewear your clothes. One of the biggest problems is that, on average, each piece is worn only seven times before getting tossed, so a lot of waste comes simply from buying new things and throwing out the old stuff. Invest in quality. There’s fast fashion and then there are expensive brands, and both contribute negatively, but if something is high in quality, you’re unlikely to throw it out – that’s not as bad! And if not, we’re partnering with Thrift for Good, which resells clothes at very reasonable rates and donates 100% of its profits to charity. My tip is that if you want to give away something that you don’t love anymore, give it to someone like them so that your clothing can find a second home.”
7. Ask why.
“Think about your purchases – why do you need another black T-shirt ? Make better choices – choices that will make you happy – and try to buy sustainably if you can. There are black T-shirts on our marketplace and there are black T-shirts in H&M. Yes, H&M might be a little less expensive, but you know that it will change shape once you’ve washed it a few times and won’t fit you anymore. You’re going to have to buy another one anyway, so buy something sustainable that will last you and try to consider who makes your product.”