Kuwaiti fashion designer Heba Shaikh’s new namesake brand is set to disrupt the fashion industry with transparency, quality and fair prices
Congratulations on the launch of Heba Shaikh! What led you to create the brand?
I started out working in the fashion industry and was really frustrated that there were so many brands out there that sell very overpriced polyester. I was tired of the amount of greenwashing and lack of transparency that costs lives and hides exploitative working conditions, and of the industry’s abundance of wastefulness and speed. I asked myself if I were to do it my way, what would that look like? And that’s where the initial concept of going slow and creating a minimal number of high-quality wardrobe essentials came to light.
What is the ethos behind your brand?
Honesty and thoughtful design that is both ethically and sustainably produced. Taking cues from traditional menswear sensibilities, we craft our garments with longevity in mind, creating versatile, timeless pieces to be worn interchangeably beyond the limits of a typical season and for multiple functionalities. We carefully consider the quality, impact, and longevity of the materials we use in our products.
Sustainability is a core part of the brand — can you tell us a little more about this?
We want you to know the full story behind our products, giving you the ability to make more responsible and informed choices. We never use synthetic fibres, such as polyester, even if it is recycled. It loses so much of its quality after being broken down, and it releases micro-plastics in the recycling process that pollute our landfills and oceans. In my opinion, the world should produce and consume less plastic in general. If the public believes everything they throw away can be recycled, they will probably see no problem in continuing to consume disposable plastic goods.
What core items do you think make the perfect capsule collection?
Pieces that transcend passing trends but, of course, that will mean different things to different people. If monochrome and minimalism isn’t your flavour, a capsule wardrobe bursting with print and colour is just as valuable — so long as each piece can be worn in multiple ways. Keeping my wardrobe simple always appealed to me. The right blazer worn over my shoulders, for instance, has definitely contributed to increasing my confidence in meetings. Heba Shaikh is my edit — what I would wear myself. Pieces that are practical and endure the wear and tear of daily activities.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Kuwait and raised in Dubai — I’ve always admired the way the region is stepping into the future without forgetting its culture, and its heritage. The Middle East is a source of inspiration in that sense. I think my time in various countries also gave me a better understanding of how culture reacts to clothes.
Did your upbringing have any influence on your new collection?
My mother taught me how to sew and I always used fashion as a way to express myself. My parents always taught me about the importance of using the clothing we had as long as we could still fit into it or mend it. It’s deeply ingrained in our culture to wear out clothes and when they tear, use them in different ways. Sustainable fashion to me now is about a more considered approach to what I’m consuming, so really abiding by the principles of buying less, buying better and sharing more.
How would you describe the Middle Eastern woman’s style?
Elegant and resilient. I admire how unique the style aesthetic is and the great respect they have for their traditions. I love how women take care of their looks in such a precise, almost ritualistic way.
Do you have any plans to return to the region soon?
I certainly plan to return, it’s where I grew up and where my family lives. Dubai will always hold a special place in my heart.
What’s next for Heba Shaikh?
I am currently working on so many exciting things for the brand, so you will have to stay tuned! Shop now
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- Interview by Naomi Chadderton