Born in Bahrain, Amal Al Mulla was inspired growing up by the fashion choices of her grandmother. Seeing the way this inspiring woman dressed and the pride she took in what she wore was enough to encourage Amal to create her own fashion label. Amal established her brand Amal Al Mulla alongside her sister in 2013. The idea was to create pieces that filled a gap for stylish, modest fashion in the GCC.
Seven years later and Amal Al Mulla has achieved many of her goals. Designed with a timeless and versatile approach in mind, her collections have attracted the attention of global e-commerce sites such as Farfetch and Moda Operandi, taking her collections to an international stage. While there is still much work to be done, this year has allowed the designer to reflect and improve on the business in new ways and set more goals for the future. We find out more about the growing success of the brand with Founder Amal Al Mulla.
How have you spent this year and have you changed any of the strategies within your business?
It’s definitely been a challenging year since the situation with COVID-19 hit us globally but in a way, it’s also been sort of a blessing in disguise for the fashion industry and our brand in particular. I feel we needed the shake that threw us somewhat off the edge and away from what’s been normalised within the industry. It made us take a step back to reflect and re-evaluate the business as a whole. Without even noticing, the fast pace that fashion had us driving on was too and that led us as designers to creating mindlessly and working so fast, so much so that you end up losing the essence of what and why you started. It’s honestly been a wonderful time to take a breath and allow ourselves to dive deeper into the core of the business and reconnect not only with ourselves as creatives but with our consumers as well, in a completely new way and draw a line on what really is important in today’s world – versatility, sustainability and conscious buying, three things that are now fully at the core of the business’s understanding and something we are working on more and more every day.
Take us back to the beginning – what first inspired you to launch your own fashion line?
Starting a brand was always my dream. I grew up with a love for creating and I found fashion as my outlet for moulding my ideas into a reality. I’ve always had a fascination with what goes beyond the surface of things and that is definitely what strikes me until today, the string of thoughts and creative processes behind a piece or a collection from start to finish. That is the space I knew I wanted to invest my time in and that is how my career in this industry began.
We launched Amal Al Mulla that same year in my hometown of Bahrain, after noticing there was a gap in the market in the GCC. Fashion was very limited to certain kind of styles and we wanted to create a brand that broke past certain familiarities and carved a path that gave fashion a sense of newness and modernity that we felt was missing. And from then, the brand was born.
What is your first memory of fashion growing up?
The memory of my grandmother, watching the sense of joy that embodied her every morning as she started to get ready for the day ahead. That happened every single morning of her life; it was like her little happy ritual of the day. To set an outfit that reflected how she wanted to feel, and what jewellery she wanted to pair it with, and the makeup she wanted to wear. More than a memory, it was a way of her life and a part of who she was as a whole that taught me the importance of looking and feeling good for yourself every day and that how you show up to the world matters for yourself most importantly but also for the everyone else. I quickly understood that fashion is more than just clothes and colours and pieces of fabric. It’s a form of communication and expression of self, it’s about reflecting who you are.
What can you tell us about your latest collection?
Our latest collection is inspired by archival favourites, bringing a modern take of effortlessly timeless and highly covetable pieces. Embodying a foundation of beauty, luxe simplicity and functionality, forming subtle and refined creations that can be taken from day to night with great ease.
Your design style is very unique – how would you describe it in your own words?
Modern, sophisticated, versatile and artistic. Our brand is a combination of those four words put together. We are always pushing the boundaries and making new waves on how we define timeless modernity, building a wardrobe of beautiful transitional pieces that work fluidly throughout the seasons.
Who is the woman you design for?
We design for modern women. Women who celebrate their individualities and their wholeness with what they wear. It’s more about the way she feels and who she is rather than her age or what she does. Our woman is confident and beautiful, strong yet humble, perfect yet imperfect in her own little ways that make her all that she is.
How would you define success?
I believe that my success takes on an entirely different meaning today than it did when I first started the business. I used to think success was about all the places I took my business too and the goals I ticked off my list. As much as that is a part of it, I think the bigger meaning of success for me goes far deeper than that. Success today is honestly the simple things that add up to make the big things. Like the humbling gratification I feel every day in getting the opportunity to do what I love, having the chance to bring my whole self to the table, inspire and be part of a movement of change through what I do or create a positive impact on the women wearing our clothes. That is what I think success is to me, it’s a feeling of greatness felt in the little daily things you do that add up and leaves you extremely touched and fulfilled within.
How do you think your heritage and upbringing has influenced your designs?
I think it’s the open attitude of where I’m from and the impact of the modern Arab woman that influences the designs and the brand in general. It’s their contrasting love for simplicity and complexity, be it their choices of fabrics, or style or approach in life. Their vast acceptance of merging their own traditions with change and the openness to it is the approach I’ve grown up with and it’s something I’ve carried along with me that helps us grow and expand as a brand.
With every success comes setbacks or failures – how do you keep motivated when you face challenges?
Through resilience and acceptance. Going down the path of an entrepreneur is not an easy one and there will always be hurdles along the way that you will have to face, but understanding that those difficulties will always be there and using them as a way to learn and grow is something that helped us as a brand expand into the places we are in now.
When are you at your most creative state of mind?
When I’m fully present with myself. It’s hard to be in a day and age where distractions are everywhere and there’s so much to do when running a business, you tend to lose track of your creative self and the only way back to it is when I’m in a quiet place and I turn off the noise of the outer world to listen to myself inside. Meditation is something I do daily that helps and inspires me to be at my most creative, or immersing myself in a good book or music keeps me inspired as well.
Who would you most like to see wearing your designs?
It’s always a delight to see someone wearing our designs; the women who we strive to see wearing the brand are confident, independent women who are comfortable with whom they are and always strive to be the best version of themselves. We love to see how different women style our pieces and how they incorporate it into their wardrobe.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
We have worked so hard over the past years to grow the brand to an international level, which was always the vision we had for it. We were and are lucky enough to be working with some amazing retailers such as Moda Operandi and Farfetch who have recognised our work and helped us take the scale of our brand from a regional brand to a globally recognised one.
What would you still like to achieve that you haven’t done yet?
Definitely, to expand our product offerings to different categories, we would love to branch out to designing and producing products that go hand in hand with our clothing, such as jewellery, accessories or leather goods.
What is a challenge you have faced throughout your journey and how did you overcome it?
This year was one of the biggest challenges we have faced so far. The uncertainty this year has left us with was something we needed to overcome. It’s been such a whirlwind emotionally and mentally for the brand. Changes were needed to be made and understanding that and re-evaluating and reimagining the direction of the business in a way that would suit our current state for us and our customers was what was needed and that was something we have worked on and are still working on paving a path towards something new and optimistic.
What is something you would like to see happen in the fashion industry in the UAE?
In the last couple of years, the UAE has witnessed great progress in the fashion industry and has been one of the leading pioneers in the GCC that has led the way for the other countries in the region to follow. We are already very proud of what this country has accomplished and offered us as a regional brand and cannot wait to see where it goes in the future ahead.
What are the three items every woman should own?
A woman’s closet should have these three essentials: a crisp white shirt (which I practically live in), a pair of sophisticated black flats and a good pair of quality jeans that can take you through your day in a refined and practical manner.
What is the life motto you live by?
“You are you, and that is your power.” A quote I live by, and a quote every little girl should remember. Reminding yourself that no one can take away who you are, that being yourself is enough and is what matters and embracing who you are authentically and fully is a person’s immense power towards greatness.
Where would you like to see your brand in five years?
We would love to expand our reach internationally even more than where we are today and continue to design and inspire globally