Founded in 2019 by entrepreneur & businessman, Khaled Al Zaabi and designer, Paula Quetglas Llop, NIILI is a UAE homegrown luxury fashion house. Reflective of Dubai’s diverse cultural makeup, its clothing is designed with a global mindset and extends itself to the unique styles of those living in the Middle East and abroad.
1) Tell us your inspiration /when and why you launched?
We joined forces while pursuing our MBA’s at INSEAD. Together, we felt now was the pristine time to introduce a luxury fashion house from the UAE and we were driven by the desire to create a brand that would reflect the contemporary tastes of UAE. The UAE and Dubai specifically, is one of the top global retail destinations and has secured its position in the world as home to luxury and tourism. However, if the average luxury RTW consumer walks into any of our wonderful shopping malls, she or he would find it extremely difficult to find/procure from a local luxury brand. Therefore, we wanted to fill this gap and share our definition of contemporary luxury and move away from existing clichés surrounding fashion in the Middle East.
Dubai, the city where we are based, is a melting pot of many nationalities, where talent from all around the world congregates. Even though our collections are inspired in a precise territory, the versatility of our garments invite women from different cultures to adapt it to their style. Made using loose, airy fabrics paired with sophisticated embellishments and patterns, each piece is designed to layer, match or mix-and-match. It was important to create a versatile brand that’s well suited for and wearable by modern and mobile women from all walks of life.
2) What is your brand mission, vision and end goals?
The global luxury fashion industry is USD 350B annually with the top 100 companies capturing 70% of the industry (the top 10 capturing 50%) and thus, combined, UAE brands have no significant share of that industry. Therefore our vision is to create a luxury fashion house based in UAE, that that will become a global top 100 company over the next 10-15 years and hope to play a part in the growth of the fashion industry in Dubai. We are driven by the desire of creating a brand that reflects the contemporary tastes of the UAE. The uniqueness of NIILI is that all our designs have its roots in this region. We have taken elements from the traditional crafts, colors and shapes of the landscape to design our prints and draw our silhouettes. When you see the pieces, you can see this influence.
3) What are your hopes and/or dreams for the brand moving forward?
With NIILI, our ambition is to contribute in putting the UAE on the spot of the international fashion scene. Our goal is to create a brand that is based in Dubai and that has identifiable codes from the culture and diversity of this city.
4) Enlighten us with your long-term plans?
We would like to see the brand going international as this has been the idea since NIILI was conceived. We have created a brand that is rooted in the culture of the Emirates but that is designed in a way that women from different cultures can adopt naturally. We would like to introduce other product categories and menswear. We would also like to open a space where we can share our universe and provide with a full experience.
Music Credit: Static by Jef
Maz Hakim, Virgin Radio Talk Show Host in Dubai and new Founder of denim label Espand by Maz, speaks about her passion in fusing her Afghan heritage into her western designs in an effort to preserve her appreciation towards the culture's artisanal, colorful craftsmanship.
© Curated by Maz for Curated ME.
Maz, also known as Mariam Hakim is an Afghan Australian living in Dubai. Her parents left Afghanistan as refugees in the late 1980’s in difficult circumstances. With the aid of a smuggler and with three starving children to protect, they escaped on horseback past searching helicopters and the threat of the patrolling army. Eventually Maz’s family crossed the border safely and moved to Australia as refugees and skilled migrants.
Maz studied at the Australian Film, Television & Radio School and has been working in Radio for the last 10 years. She now lives in Dubai and hosts a National Radio Show at Virgin Radio Dubai. Maz returned to Afghanistan for the first time in 2017 to host a television show on Tolo TV. During her initial visit she was inspired by the beauty of the country’s colourful fabrics and created a brand, Espand by Maz, that would represent every woman who seeks inspiration and connection from both the East and West.