Interview: The Dubai fashion designer who creates nothing but luxury shorts for women
Egyptian designer Nada Soliman founded Nud The Label to focus on the one garment she knows, loves and cannot find enough of: shorts
There’s something to be said for focusing an entire fashion line on just one item of clothing. It’s a testament to a designer’s passion for a particular project, as well as a mark of confidence in her skills. It’s what Nada Soliman decided to do with her new business, Nud The Label, a collection of luxury shorts for women.
“I love the rush that comes from creativity, from making something of my own,” says the 34-year-old Egyptian who lives in Dubai. She discovered this 12 years ago, when she partnered with a friend to found an Egypt-based online store selling bachelorette and wedding accessories.
“I loved crafting things, such as veils, bridesmaids’ bracelets, sashes for hen parties, and hair accessories,” she says. “We made everything by hand and that creative process really appealed to me.”
That experience, coupled with Soliman’s long-ingrained habit of tweaking her own clothes, planted the seeds for her foray into fashion. “For me, it’s not about what’s in or what’s out. It’s about what speaks to you, what you look good in, what you’re comfortable in and what represents you,” she says. “I’ve always reconstructed or deconstructed the clothes I buy to make them my own, either by adding something to a garment, or making it longer or shorter – whatever I have to do to make it look right for me.”
Ever the perfectionist, Soliman says that, before she considered launching her business, she felt the need to enrol in a few fashion design courses. “I needed to do that to find the courage. I knew it would be easier to launch something in Egypt than in Dubai, so I needed the confidence to conquer Dubai,” she admits. “I also wanted to learn what steps go into creating a fashion capsule collection, for example, and how to come up with a unique concept.”
That’s how Soliman hit upon the idea of creating shorts – and only shorts – for her first line. A self-professed lover of the style, Soliman wears shorts all year long and considers them a closet staple. “Doing an entire capsule collection of shorts was out of the box in a way that appealed to me,” she says. “I’m obsessed with shorts, and one can never find them as the highlight of a fashion collection. I wanted to create that variety.”
She began by outlining a mood board to determine what colours and silhouettes would encapsulate the line. She chose midnight as a theme and decided to stick to the colours black, white and gold. “They are rich colours, wearable in the summer and in the winter,” she says. “I didn’t want to focus on just one season; I wanted to create clothes that you can wear at any time.”
Next came material hunting. Soliman opted for plenty of raw silk, which she sourced from the UAE. This was followed by sketching prototypes and, finally, production.
Nud The Label’s Midnight capsule collection is made up of six styles of shorts, in three colours each. Some styles feature simple cuts, others are more exaggerated and come with embellished flowers and oversized ruffles. Prices start from Dh450. Although Soliman intended for them to be worn as eveningwear, she says that the shorts have been styled in various ways by influencers and bloggers, who’ve teamed them with uppers both casual and formal, and footwear that ranges from heels and slides to flip-flops and sneakers.
“I love how versatile the pieces can be,” she says. However, a soft launch to gauge women’s reactions to her designs revealed an important insight.
“It was great receiving the feedback, on everything from the quality and materials to the fit, cut and sizing, so I can understand the market and see what flaws need to be fixed.” The shorts, it seems, were a little too short for some customers. “They needed to be somewhere in the middle, which was a learning experience for me,” she says. “I personally love shorter styles, but having some slightly longer options will allow the collection to cater to more women.
“I’ll continue designing with the idea that a woman is a blank canvas that can be presented in endless possibilities. I want to create for her clothes that become the paint that brings that canvas to life.”
Updated: January 6, 2019 04:29 PM