House of Nomad is a new innovative fashion brand based in Dubai co-founded by two creative individuals; Ahmed El-Sayed and Saleh Al Banna. The label is based on the premise of a nomad: wanderer with no geographic boundaries, living in perpetual motion from one temporary dwelling to another. The regional style set have already adopted the nomad style and the designer’s unique concept always allows the brand to make an impact this season. A prominent feature throughout all their collections is the use of Arabic calligraphy, which the designers have used to proudly assert their cultural DNA.
All this glamorous creativity sure did catch the eye of Dubai Fashion Tour and we decided to get more insights about this fabulous brand from the founders themselves.
DFT – What sparked your interest in fashion?
Ahmed – I grew up with my mom and she was always fascinated by fashion and personal style. In addition I majored in fashion while studying in the university. So fashion was a natural choice for me. I was studying business before but soon realized that it wasn’t my cup of tea. My heart as always into fashion so I took up BFA in fashion designing instead and also worked as a fashion content editor for an e-commerce. It was during this time I decided to start this company with Saleh.
DFT – How did you meet and how you decided to come-up with a fashion brand together?
Ahmed – Well we were already friends for a few years. When I was working as a fashion content editor Saleh approached me saying I have good design skills. Saleh already had a multinational family business background so we decided to merge both our skills and start this company.
DFT – What’s it like being in the industry?
Saleh – The interesting part for me is to understand and appreciate creativity. I love the business part of it while Ahmed loves the creative side.
Ahmed – Yes. I love being the creative head. I see to the designs and sketches and discusses it with Saleh. Having people wear what we created is like an accomplishment for us.
DFT – What was the inspiration behind your name?
Ahmed – We are always traveling and seeing the world. The initial inspiration behind this was to tell a story from what we see. In Dubai we see many nomads who come, stay here for some years and leave. So this is kind of how it started.
DFT – What’s your favorite fabric?
Ahmed – When we first started we wanted the brand to go through its own revolution. Not many people know this but the fabric that we use is white and it is all colored and dyed by us. As a designer and someone who has studied fashion, I like to do things in a technical way by choosing a fabric and evolve or manipulate it to fit every season and collection. I like to give it a new color and style so as to create a whole new collection. We are slowly introducing other fabrics but the response that we get from the current fabric is more creative. The fabric that we use is Lupine. I used wool for our winter collection.
Saleh – Introducing new fabrics is good for us but I think it’s very interesting to see what he can do with the same fabric. One of my favorite fabric is tweed. Hard to work with but they look beautiful.
DFT – How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Ahmed – The person kind of grows with us. They are fun, energetic and aware of their body type. We play a lot with shapes so they are not scared to experiment either. They are very outgoing, free-spirited and adventurous.
DFT – From where do you get your inspiration?
Ahmed – Initially when we started it was all based on travel. Now it’s more based on the mood. We spent a lot of time on the Paris fashion week presenting the brand. From there we took the mood and created the Autumn Winter ’16 collection. It kind of depends on where we are in life. We are now working on SS17 collection with more of floating and colorful mood. The designs are more of a way of expressing myself.
DFT – Tell us about your latest fall/winter 2016 RTW collection and what’s the inspiration behind it?
Ahmed – As much as the brand is a great business, we do love to experiment with fabrics and we are still going through an experimental phase creatively while keeping the DNA of the brand intact. The mood is very caramel, burgundy and black. We styled everything from shoes to hats to clutches. We wanted to exhibit a day to evening attire for youngsters in a fashionable region like Paris ranging from sweatpants for men to jumpsuits for women.
DFT – Do you think makeup and hair makes a difference when you promote your designs on the models? Also do you also choose the music?
Ahmed – What I didn’t know initially and picked up along the way is – as a designer when you present a collection, it has to be full from start to finish because you are giving people a taste of what House of Nomad is and who we are as whole with all the personality, attitude, mood, makeup and hair. Even when we choose models during castings we look to who they are and whether they embody the brand or not. We always look for that merge between who the people are behind the brand and who they are in front representing them.
DFT – Is there a country that deeply inspired you after the visit?
Ahmed – I would say Paris. It is very glamorous and different. When you walk into the streets you see young generation sporting high end sneakers with sweatpants and I think that is the voice of young generation. I was so shocked to see such a chic city that it always stuck with me. When I design I always go back to the moment I saw these styles. Now even Chanel is coming out with sneakers and sweatpants. It’s important to look at the voice of young generation that many designers usually miss out.
DFT – Do you get influenced by other fashion designer’s work and do you follow fashion trends?
Ahmed – When we are designing I try to be in my own state of mind. Sometimes it is very easy to subconsciously take a design from others because the brain is like a bubble gum that takes in whatever is put to it. So I strip down the thoughts of fashion week and completely divert my attention to street style and what is happening in the world at the moment. For example during the economic crisis in New York the people were wearing more of a dark grey attire to showcase the mood. Right now we are going through a political phase and I am working around it. We don’t really follow trends. We create our own trends.
DFT – How do you balance creativity with business and did you face any limitations being a designer company in a country known for its conservativeness as well?
Saleh – For us it was never a hurdle. We experimented and catered to both the type of markets in the country. I believe a woman should be able to find something that suits her from our collection irrespective of her age or body type and be able to bring out her personal style.
Ahmed – It is important for a designer to be versatile. You will get experimental and conservative clients. You should come up with something that meets both the requirements half way. In the Saudi markets you find customers who love customization and as a designer it’s always a challenge to cater to the need of such customers. They even inspire us sometimes.
DFT – How do you market your business?
Ahmed – When we first started we were the face of the brand. But as the brand grew we began to outsource help. So we are now under Faux Consultancy and they handle our PR and marketing. But as a designer I believe that I should embody the brand as well. So we have our own personal social media handles where we push our brand. I think when people follow me and see my style they will get encouraged to buy it. We have our personal Snapchat where we push the brand as well. As a boutique or a brand if you do not have an approachable attitude towards your clients you will be lost. We think it’s very important to be approachable. We do work with certain influencers from social media handles but we are very selective.
Saleh – We started out with social media and I believe social media makes a huge difference. I like Instagram as it is free, cheap and easy to keep track of trends. But you should give attention to content, layout and detail to succeed. Snapchat is also another emerging social media app that helps.
DFT – Who is your dream client internationally? And From Dubai?
Ahmed & Saleh – Our dream client would be Kendell Jenner.
DFT – What do you think about Dubai fashion industry? Do you think it will become the next global fashion capital?
Saleh – It’s very interesting. We are from Dubai and we are very proud to see designers from Dubai taking things to the next level. I believe Dubai will become the next global fashion capital.
DFT – What excites you about the potential for spaces like d3?
Saleh – It’s a good step. It has become a hub where everyone creative in the industry can be found. It’s a nice way to pass ideas, collaborate and meet new people.
DFT – What’s your latest fashion design project?
Ahmed – We have participated in Paris Fashion week. That has been going on for a few seasons now. The brand just turned two years and we have done shows in Doha. Our next collection is Spring Summer ’17 and we are planning to go more with a fun approach to this collection.
DFT – What do you think about Fashion Forward?
Ahmed – It is a great initiative and it is always important to have more platforms like that. It’s the best way for designers to interact with the people.
Saleh – It helps a lot especially for emerging designers. It’s more like an open platform where they can meet designers and it’s amazing.
Dubai fashion tour had an amazing time understanding their glamorous and unique brand. We wish them all the success in their future ventures. You can check out their collection in – www.houseofnomad.ae