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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Sauce has launched the region’s first online made-to-measure eveningwear collection

The dresses fall under the By Sauce label, the store’s in-house brand, which produces seasonal capsule collections

The Amara dress is available in various iterations, with longer and shorter hemlines and sleeves. Courtesy Sauce
The Amara dress is available in various iterations, with longer and shorter hemlines and sleeves. Courtesy Sauce

An email in my inbox from concept store Sauce provides an answer to a problem I’ve been faced with on many occasions. While shopping for a dress for my high-school prom, I struggled to find something priced affordably for a student budget – so had to settle for a forgettable dress from Mango. While on the hunt for a dress for my cousin’s wedding, I couldn’t find one that was both stylish and with sleeves: everything in the stores was either strappy or strapless. And, during a recent shopping spree to find a dress for a wedding in Beirut, huge sales in stores meant that many sizes were sold out – and those that were in stock seemed ill-fitting.

Sauce however, has just launched the region’s first online, customisable eveningwear collection on its e-commerce platform, Shopatsauce.com. The dresses fall under the By Sauce label, the store’s in-house brand, which produces seasonal capsule collections. Customers can visit the website, and choose from three sample silhouettes: a black dress with a lace hem; a monochrome tiered dress with lace accents; and a blush-pink lace and tulle dress.

“The collection is really a celebration of individuality,” says Zayan Ghandour, designer and creative director of Sauce. “The dresses can have different hem lengths, different sleeves and different ruffles.”

Maxi, midi and mini lengths are all offered, and sleeves can be added or removed with the click of a button. Ghandour reveals that new styles will be added every six to eight weeks, and that ranges will have customisable colourways, too, along with more formal ballgown silhouettes. The dresses are offered in UK sizes eight to 18, cost between Dh1,600 and Dh2,000, and are shipped to customers 10 to 14 days after orders are placed.

Alterations and bespoke requests are ingrained in consumer mentality here, and shopkeepers in this region are often asked if garments can be nipped or tucked, and whether hems and sleeves can be lengthened or shortened. “Before the retail boom in Dubai and the Middle East region as a whole, it was customary for families to have a go-to tailor for their fashion needs,” says Ghandour, “so there already is a pre-existing appreciation for the value and benefits of having a piece customised.”

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It’s likely that the service will also appeal to customers who abide by a more conservative dress code, and who, like me, are rarely able to find dresses in stores that cover the knees and shoulders, but are still fashion-­forward. “The styles do cater to a modest look, offering the possibility of longer sleeves, covered shoulders and longer hems,” says Ghandour.

After years of being overshadowed by more revealing offerings, modest fashion has finally found its way into the limelight on the inter­national stage, and the retail category is especially relevant in this region. “It was one of the indirect inspirations behind the launch,” reveals Ghandour. The decision to use lace and tulle textiles was also influenced by local style preferences.

“Lace and French knotted tulle both have beautiful elements of femininity with the intricate details of a handmade fabric, which is why they both traditionally appeal to customers in the region,” says Ghandour.

In terms of customisation initiatives, this isn’t the store’s first rodeo. In February, Ghandour’s own brand, Zayan The Label, launched a T-shirt designed in collaboration with fashion influencer Soraya Bakhtiar. The grey cotton T-shirt was fitted with white lace sleeves, and adorned with embroidered Arabic letter appliqués. Customers were invited to the Sauce-on-sea branch at The Beach, opposite JBR, to customise their buys with their initials. Previously, the Sauce boutique at Dubai Mall hosted the Bar a Bijoux jewellery bar concept with Beirut-based brand Vanina, where customers could pick from a range of charms and create their own necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

While there may be demand for customisation services in more casual clothing, too, Ghandour says that, for now, the By Sauce team is focusing on eveningwear. “It is, after all, event season,” says Ghandour.