Founders of the contemporary sportswear fashion line Army of One, Nissreen Darawish and Doha Challah currently are juggling motherhood and their collection. Tarini Pahwa speaks to them about their vision, comfort factors and being strong, independent women
For friends who share the same creative vision and ideas, creating a fashion line seemed the obvious answer to Dubai based Nissreen and Doha. Their collection, Army of One, is targeted towards strong independent women – the everywoman. In a local market that is primarily concentrated on evening wear with dressier, evening clothes.
In short, Army of One is a breath of fresh air in a market saturated with high end, luxury designers. The friends find that inspiration takes different forms, from far off lands uncovered during their travels to other women like them. “We’re influenced by strong women, those who are active, and have made a difference.” Nissreen observes that women in the region have many social pressures they may be overwhelmed by, but now more Emirati women are aspiring to make a change. “It is quite impressive that they efficiently manage families and with their work. They are rising to the occasion!” she adds with a smile.
It all started when they realized they wanted to expand their closet because they were looking for basics. Their collection slowly expanded with a loyal fan following who shared the same sentiment. The pair’s brand incorporates street style with an urban edge, a collection that can be categorized as contemporary sportswear. “I believe that Middle Eastern women find that there is a gap in the local market to add to their collection of basics.” The pair hopes to eventually expand their line to be available on an online platform, making it more accessible for their customers locally and internationally.
Doha interjects, “When we talk about sportswear, we’re talking contemporary sportswear, not active wear. Our clothes aren’t merely for exercising. Our pieces can be used to transition from day-wear to night-wear; something that’s functional.” Their brand appeals to Middle Eastern women, who like them, are looking for something similar – which inspired their brand name too. Army of One describes the woman who does it all. She’s out and about but she still has an edge; she’s strong, sporty and sexy.”
The pair’s focus on comfortable, wearable clothes stems from their influence of strong women, particularly those who are active and have made a difference. “We want to cater to these women, and to have them be an influence to others around them, to show them that they can be whatever they want to be and do whatever they want.” This is admirable and having a fashion collection aimed towards the day-to-day woman, as opposed to the celebrity, is a rarity. “When you join Army of One, you start with your basic t-shirt, basic tank and you evolve as your lifestyle changes… you stick with us.”
The duo devotes extra effort to ensure all their products are of the highest quality. “We have to find the right fabrics and manufacturers, and we have had problems with a lot of factories along the way because we wanted something in the region that helps our image.” This perfection is evident in their line, with fabrics imported from Europe and jerseys – from high end silk to cotton and mesh – essential ingredients needed to ensure they have a loyal following soon. “We wanted clothes that people can wear all the time and look good in. For this collection, we used fabrics that were light and good quality, and absorbent which are great for this type of weather. Something that you feel light in and don’t cling to your body, for women in Dubai.”
In addition to their business, Nissreen and Doha are both mothers who run their households and find that they are still able to make time for their own passions. “It is not easy juggling things, but at the end of the day when you are doing something you are passionate about, you feel like you are building something,” says Nissreen.
Must have outfit in every girl’s wardrobe?
D: Every girl should have an outfit that she can easily style from day to night. An AO1 Modal Jersey T-Shirt or Tank, a Leather Jacket and Jeans. Paired with cool sneakers for daytime and stilettos for a night out.
N: Great off duty basics. A well fitted T-shirt and bottoms with awesome looking, comfortable sneakers.
Biggest fashion pet peeve?
N: Wearing trends that don’t suit you or your body type.
D: Anything too kitschy.
Biggest beauty pet peeve?
D: Orange spray tan.
N: Too much make up.
You can’t leave home without?
N: My phone and lip-gloss.
D: My gadgets! Favourite