The Vibe: Sugar Vintage

A deep respect of Emirati heritage fused with a passion for the elegance of 1940s fashion icons inspired the launch of Sugar Vintage. This Dubai-based fashion label, founded in 2008 and launched at quirky boutique, S*uce, was the brainchild of designer Leila Al Marashi. Her latest collection, Turathi, (literally translated: My Heritage) mixes traditional Emirati symbols such as the burqa with contemporary cultural references. With an existing fanbase in the Middle East and Asia, the designer now has the US and Europe in her sights. She shares her vision with us in a handful of soundbites

‘The perception of Emirati fashion is still very old school; the assumption is that we only design evening wear couture or abayas and there is a huge gap in homegrown brands designing ready-to-wear trendy clothes with good cuts and detail. Much emphasis is put on importing US or European brands, but we have so much creativity, great craftsmanship and quality in our region too’

Leila Al Marashi
Leila Al Marashi intends to put Emirati fashion on the map

‘I sell to 15 boutiques, across the GCC states, in addition to Cairo, Lebanon, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Korea. To grow organically for me is essential. My growth strategy is one department store, and one boutique per city so as not to dilute the brand; my next step is to spread to Europe and the US’

Muna Lisa
The playful 'Muna Lisa', created by Leila Al Marashi, is part of her pop art series

‘I sell to 15 boutiques, across the GCC states, in addition to Cairo, Lebanon, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Korea. To grow organically for me is essential. My growth strategy is one department store, and one boutique per city so as not to dilute the brand; my next step is to spread to Europe and the US’

Sugar Vintage at the Souq Fashion Show
Sugar Vintage at the Souq Fashion Show

‘I want to show the world that we can celebrate the authenticity of Emirati culture in a very tasteful, classy and fun way. I would love to see Dubai begin a Fashion Council like the British Fashion Council’

Sugar Vintage at the Souq Fashion Show
Sugar Vintage at the Souq Fashion Show

‘The response has been amazing; people love that I am an Arab designer and that my pieces are so colourful and whimsical. Dubai is a great place to start a dream, as there are so many resources and opportunities and so much potential to develop a business plan into an empire’