Designers from Azyame entrepreneurship programme by Irthi.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
The third cohort of ten Emirati designers trained under ‘Azyame’, the flagship fashion entrepreneurship programme by Irthi Contemporary Craft Council (Irthi), recently unveiled their fashion and jewellery collections.
They are presented on a new global digital portal ‘ELEVENiSH’, and set off on fruitful entrepreneurial journeys, empowered by the exposure and visibility provided by an international e-commerce site.
All the collections are inspired by Emirati crafts. Launched by Irthi, an affiliate of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA), in partnership with London College of Fashion, the Azyame programme seeks to support the next generation of creative talent in the country. From crisp and elegant day-wear pieces to feminine silhouettes with sharp design details and delicate textures, the new collections pay tribute to or incorporate the Emirati crafts of Talli (embroidery) produced by artisans of Irthi’s Bidwa Social Development Programme.
The collections were launched on ELEVENiSH, a newly established online community and e-commerce platform, targeting emerging designers, talents and artists around the world to feature their brand stories and creations, while providing a seamless shopping experience for those interested in purchasing the products. ELEVENiSH strives to bring Azyame’s designers and their collections a step closer to a discerning clientele, both within the UAE and around the world.
It is a one-stop digital shopping experience for buyers and viewers of Emirati crafts. The collections have also been unveiled at the ELEVENiSH showroom in Majlis Ghorfat Umm Al Sheif, Dubai, to indulge those who prefer an in-person shopping experience. Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, said: “The UAE is at the forefront of the fashion revolution in the Middle East, and the country’s home-grown talent are now being recognised for the dynamism and innovation they bring into the constantly evolving fashion scene.
“As skilled fashion professionals, these up-and-coming designers are connecting with their audiences through niche platforms designed to expand their reach in the regional and global markets.” She added: “E-portals such as ELEVINiSH which set a new standard and raise the bar for designers are vital to driving the UAE’s pioneering efforts in the fashion and design industries. “For Azyame graduates — who are mentored and trained in integrating fashion with craft-inspired design while also focusing on ethical and sustainable practices — the opportunity to showcase their work on this platform could serve as a launchpad for exciting new opportunities and partnerships.”
Hala Al Gergawi, Founder and CEO of ELEVENiSH, said that “we are proud to announce that we have more than 80 brands on board showcasing exclusive pieces on ELEVENiSH.com, and it is an honour to have Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, which shares our vision, to partner with us on the launch, as ten designers from the Azyame programme’s third cohort feature their beautiful creations on our platform.” Al Gergawi was the youngest candidate to be elected as a Board Member in the Emirates Business Women Council. She became a member of the Emirates Publishers Association chaired by Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi and was appointed by Abu Dhabi Media Company as Managing Editor of women’s magazine, Zahrat Al Khaleej. She also founded one of the first luxury lifestyle consultancies in the region — Tea Before Noon — to create and maintain a dialogue between regional and international creative industries.
The ten designers whose labels can be accessed on https://elevenish.com/ include Maitha Hamdan, founder of ‘Decencia’ which features contemporary wear for Arab women; Aysha Salem, founder of AS Fashion House, whose debut line includes dresses for work, special occasions and red-carpet events; Shoug Fardan, founder of eponymous art-inspired brand ‘SHOUG’; and Fatma Alawi, founder of ‘Mzyan’. The Azyame cohort of designers also includes Ayesha Al Mheiri, founder of ‘OSH Collection’; Moza Al Mazrou, founder of ‘Moza Al Mazrou’ who intertwines culture and crafts in her collection; Sara Al Bedwawi, founder of ‘The Bedwa’, whose passion for art is the driving force behind her modern contemporary wear and Wafa Balaswad, founder of the eponymous label ‘Wafa Balaswad’, whose modern designs come to life with the use of vibrant colours.
Badria Salim, founder of ‘Abdar Jewelry’ honours Talli patterns with her geometric designs, while Sara Al Mulla, founder and CEO of ‘Piece of Heart Jewellery’, pays homage to the intricate details of Talli in her collection. At an exclusive event to mark the launch of ELEVENiSH brand and platform in Dubai, a panel discussion was held to introduce attendees to Irthi and the Azyame programme. The session featured Al Gergawi, BinKaram and Azyame designers Balaswad, Salem and Fardan, who shared their experiences during the programme. Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council is committed to the socioeconomic empowerment of women in crafts through the development of sustainable, woman-valued crafts communities across the Middle East, North Africa, South East and Central Asia.
Based in Sharjah, it offers a pioneering platform for creative and commercial partnerships between women artisans, designers, artists and contemporary labels from around the world. The Council’s efforts have paved the way for unique cross-cultural design collaborations and projects, stimulating innovation and creating new market opportunities for women. Irthi also seeks to preserve and promote Emirati craft heritage through engaging young generations and practitioners with their crafts legacy. It operates under the patronage of Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of NAMA.
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