Najah El Jaroudi - Sitra Abayas

Last month, I was in Dubai (United Arabs Emirates) to attend a business conference, and while taking some down time at a beautiful coffeeshop in the design district of the city, I met Najah who is a 22 year old architecture student and now transitioning into fashion design. Besides her flawless outer beauty, Najah is truly kind hearted and her creative ability to merge physical building designs, with middle eastern abayas wear, is truly a ‘thinking outside of the box’ approach. I was truly excited to interview Najah, and learn more about the incorporation of merging what seems like two different types of designs, into one.

Listen to full episode: Spotify // iTunes

Q1. Tell me about yourself
I am Najah, a 22 year old architectural student in my final year. I started my business last summer in June. Since then, I started designing each abaya based on architecture, where each piece has a story. Every single one of my collection has an architectural style. Like this latest collection is inspired by minimalism in architecture, and I translate that into my abaya ready to wear collection.
Q2. Why did you choose to study architecture, and how did you translate that into fashion design?
I went into architecture because I love this field and I was interested in it. But then, I realized that I wanted to pursue a career path that identifies me. A long time ago, I wanted to pursue fashion, but first I needed to find my identity. Especially pursuing the abaya design in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where it is very saturated. At first, I struggled merging the concept of architecture design into wearable abayas. But then, I just did it.

Q3. How do you go from architecture designs to fashion?
Fashion and architecture are both very similar, because they are both induced by art. If you think about it, what is architecture? It is about having a shelter for a human being on a large scale. What is fashion? Having a shelter for a human being, in a shield that protects them from climate and everything else.
Q4. Walk me through the process of how you make your fashion line?
First, I research some architectural inspirations, and then creatively attempt to translate them into my fashion designs. I try to sketch as much as I can, until I achieve what I want. Then I go to different fabric shops, to find the right material that can be translated into exactly what I want. For example, if you want something more appropriate for our climate, you need a material that is softer and thin, because of the weather. I have multiple tailors, who execute my designs, because I don’t sow my abayas. Then, I do multiple photoshoots to showcase everything.
Q5. What is next for you?
Finish school, while continuing to grow my collection. My next launch will be in December/January, on fashion ‘de-constructivism’. While I continue to market my brands, through television appearances, and magazine interviews coming up.
Q6. Do you fear that your clothing is made for a very limiting market?
No. Even within the United Arab Emirates, we have a diverse population. I am muslim, but do not wear a veil. Some who are not muslim, or those who do not necessarily wear veils per say, can wear the abayas for different occasions, Especially in places in Saudi Arabia, they have to wear abayas, but in other parts of our continents, they do not have to wear it as a traditional abayas, so they can wear it however they want.
Q7. Three words to describe yourself?

Sweet. Forgiving. Fashionist.

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