DUBAI: As United Arab Emirates-based luxury women’s clothing brand NIILI prepares to bring its unique line to Saudi Arabia via Homegrown Market, a concept store that showcases contemporary emerging Arab brands, the founders spoke to Arab News of their global hopes for the brand that was launched. just weeks before the debilitating COVID-19 pandemic.
NIILI’s Fall / Winter 2021/22 ‘N21’ capsule collection, which will be available at the Homegrown Market, draws inspiration from the rich heritage of the United Arab Emirates and features two symbols of the country’s culture – palm trees and henna, ancient art that is commonly used to design women’s hands and feet for weddings and other religious events like Eid.
A custom pattern blending the two is visible throughout the capsule collection on the brand’s signature flowing caftans. The new line is marked by soft pastels and natural hues, a color palette that has been chosen to highlight elegance and femininity.
Launched just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the Middle East, NIILI fought to make a name for itself in the competitive fashion market.
The co-founders of the ready-to-wear brand, the Emirati Khaled Al-Zaabi and the Spanish Paula Quetglas Llop, spoke about the main goals of the fashion house, how the brand is succeeding despite difficult times and its new collection.
“What we wanted to do was really create a truly wonderful luxury brand outside of the region that would cater to the tastes of the region, but also share with the world our own vision of design and luxury inspiration”, Al-Zaabi said.
The entrepreneur said he wants to share Emirati culture with the world, but also stay true to the nature of the UAE. “It’s a very inclusive country and a very global country that really has this international vision and international appeal,” added the founder.
For Llop, she thinks it’s the best time to “eat local”. She said that with the pandemic, the trend in countries now is to support “what is happening in her country”.
Talking about the effect of the pandemic on NIILI, Al-Zaabi joked, “You could do all the industry analysis and studies… and then you jump in on January 15, 2020, and then a few weeks later there is has a major global pandemic that has not happened for a hundred years.
He said launching during a pandemic was a challenge. “It was and still is extremely difficult… despite everything, we are also a rather lean structure. We also had to make a lot of sacrifices (with) cuts, ”he explained.
“It also allowed us to review our strategy, revise our business plans and rethink many aspects,” Al-Zaabi added.
According to Llop, the major change for NIILI was to go fully digital. “We really had to think about how to go about getting a space in the digital world that is absolutely inundated with brands and new things,” she said.
However, the brand has made progress since its launch. Last month, NIILI launched on Ounass for clients in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and beyond.