A launch pad for regional designers for a decade now, S*uce, an award-winning multi-brand fashion and lifestyle concept store based in Dubai was the first to actively support and invest in local talent, displaying regional designers alongside international brands. Heading the brand for over a decade, meet Zayan Ghandour, S*uce co-founder, head buyer and creative director
With a total of six locations in the UAE and over 500 brands, S*uce is co-founded by Zayan Ghandour, Fatima Ghobash and Dina Saleh. It offers a curated selection of the top contemporary brands and diffusion lines (Mary Katrantzou, Alessandra Rich, Preen, Thakoon, Sacai, Carven, Notte by Marchesa, EK Thongsprasert, Mawi, and Shourouk to name but a few) mixed in with unique pieces by up-coming designers from the region, Asia and the Far East and quirky lifestyle items and home interior accessories.
From the very first season at S*uce, the emphasis is on providing customers with lines that are not available anywhere else. The team of three creative buyers attend all fashion trade shows and scour the internet looking for the next big thing, or unheard of brands. Further more, they work closely with designers, both locally and internationally, customising exclusive collections just for S*uce. Many of these designers who started with S*uce 10 years ago such as Essa and Bilarabi are now regional superstars in their own right.
Fatima, Dina and I had always been avid shoppers and huge fans of fun boutiques that stocked upcoming designers, and young talent mixed in with quirky lifestyle items. We always felt that there wasa gap in the market for the sort of contemporary brands that we loved to buy ourselves. Each partner definitely brought a lot to the mix and the fact that we shared passion and common interests made it easy, we clicked instantly.
A LAUNCH PAD
As a young designer myself this was something very important from the very start. At the time regional designers were rarely given rail space next to international designers and yet there was so much talent both in the UAE itself as well as in the GCC and beyond. The designs were super fun and unique and totally tuned in to what the customers were looking for. Since then we have made it our mission to continuously nurture and support young talent, holding the first all night Ramadan shopathon for local designers back in 2008 and launching our annual Design a Dress competition.
We have three original S*uce stores – The Village Mall, The Dubai Mall and Marina Mall Abu Dhabi – the rest are all completely different concept stores. We have S*uce Gifts for instance which is dedicated to design pieces and lifestyle items, S*uce On-Sea for beach wear and loungewear, S*uce ROCKS for fine jewellery, Saucette for kidswear, S*uce In the Hood for casual wear and The Gift Machine – a gifts vending machine, the region’s first 24/7 shopping experience. Each store is curated within the same S*uce spirit – a mix of highend brands and super cool contemporary labels mixed, regional designers and young talent but with a different offering.
IN THE PIPELINE
We just opened three new concepts and are definitely looking into expanding beyond the UAE. So I guess stay tuned and watch this space.
ZAYAN – THE LABEL
As head buyer and creative director of S*uce my Zayan line had to be put on hold for a while. However, over time, I met the right people and was able to put together an awesome team and Zayan- the Label was born. We are incredibly excited to have opened our first stand-alone store recently. The design process is fun because we travel to fabric trade shows and work with different suppliers to create our own unique fabrics and prints and this is where the story of the collection is born. Unfortunately that’s the easy part and things can get a lot more difficult after that when it comes to production and quality control etc. And that’s where it’s super important to surround yourself with a strong, reliable, positive team.
UAE Fashion Sense: Women in this part of the world love colour and are not afraid to experiment with new styles, trends and up and coming brands; both international and regional designers.
When picking designers: Newness and originality is what we look for when selecting designs for our boutique. Our buyers look for bold details and fresh original ideas.
Personal style: Is playful and girly.
Inspiration: My 2 little girls.
Define luxury: In fashion, luxury is all about immediate gratification.
Fashion in 5 years: UAE is slated to become one of the top shopping and fashion retail destinations in the world.
Celebrity you would dress: Emma Stone. She’s genuinely spontaneous and super girly.
Advice for aspiring designers: Go out and do it your way otherwise you will never find out whether it works or not.