Grab your espresso and settle down for another episode of the Morning Coffee.
Today we are joined by the founder and designer of Twisted Roots, Latifa Al Gurg. You may have seen her previously on our platform as one of the faces of our Piaget shoot, but she has also been busy creating Expo 2020 uniforms for staff and volunteers.
Her collections speak of wanderlust that comes from her love of travel and exploring the world. Watch our interview with Latifa in full below.
Describe your morning routine.
It’s an early start so wake up at 05.45, up with the kids, get them ready for school. Luckily I have a husband who does drop offs so it gives me time to get ready. Then off to work which is meeting, photo shoots, scheduling, different things like that, until around noon and then pop to the house to check in and then pick-ups.
You have a major role to play at Expo 2020, what can you tell us about that?
We are the winners of the design competition for the uniforms, which was very exciting and it was a huge project to take on. From here on we have to work with the Expo team to develop the uniforms further because initially it was just a concept that they took, and then we have to develop it to become the final uniform design and then go into production with whoever they choose.
You have to dress over 30,000 people, that’s steep challenge.
I think the challenge was there from the beginning because 30,000 volunteers and employees, so you’re talking about people across different ages, across different sizes, so it was a bit of a difficulty to figure out what are we going to do to keep everybody comfortable, and everybody proud of the uniform they are going to wear. We want them to feel and have this oweness of what they are participating in.
One of the themes for expo 2020 is sustainability, how are you incorporating that into your designs?
It’s a major theme, and there are so many ways you can incorporate sustainability and I decided to go into one of things that’s been in the news recently which is the plastic in our water systems. So we used recycled polyester – two types of them. We used mechanically recycled polyester which is actually plastic water bottles that are recycled into fabrics, and chemically recycled polyester which is old polyester fabric recycled into new fabrics.
What is your professional moto?
Professionally it’s mostly prepare, prepare, prepare. I like to prepare everything, there is also step 1, step 2, step 3. My background in engineering makes me breakdown everything, whether it’s professionally or personally, down to different steps. Everything I tackle, I identify the problem and then identify the steps to get to the solution.
What do you still want to achieve?
You always want to achieve further, there’s so much more I want to achieve in different aspects. Professionally we want to expand internationally and regionally. Personally there is so much, I want to travel to every country in the world, as everyone, one of my biggest bucket list items is to go to Antarctica so that’s something I’m really looking forward to looking into right now. With my kids, to see them grow. We’re at a point where my eldest is looking at university, so I think you always have something else and my biggest, what I really I want to achieve is to always be learning.
Who would you say is your career mentor?
I don’t have one mentor. At different points in your life you have different mentors and you actually learn from everybody around, so I wouldn’t pick anybody who is specifically in fashion. My first mentor would be the first person I came up with the concept with which is Toby Meadows where I did my first course, and he guided through a lot of things throughout the years. Other than that, on a daily basis I consider everybody I meet a mentor because there is so much you learn from everybody.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
It would be to maybe slow down, not wasting time. It’s okay to take time, the older I grow the more I value time that’s ‘down time’ and more reflective time.
What would you tell yourself 10 years from now?
You have to ask me in 10 years.
Complete this sentence: I’m happy when…
I’m travelling, when I’m reading, I’m happy when I’m with my kids and my family, I’m happy when I’m exploring.
Describe your personal style.
It’s timeless with twist. I like things that are classic but it has a little bit of my voice and my perspective, and where I am at that moment.
What do you say ‘no’ to?
Wasting time. I’m always on the go, always trying to fit in something else. It’s always sitting down and doing nothing that’s a no no for me.
What book are you reading at the moment?
I am reading The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. It’s an amazing book. It talks about grief and the year in her life after she lost her husband suddenly. Very heart wrenching but a beautifully written book.
How do you want the world to remember you?
As someone who has done something impactful, who made a small difference at least.