Reema Al Banna Founder of Reemami on Achieving Her Dreams

Lindsay Judge   |   21 - 10 - 2020

Reema Al Banna, the designer behind contemporary UAE- based womenswear brand Reemami has quickly made a name for herself in the region with her unique, modern designs.

 

The Palestinian-born designer was influenced by her time growing up in the UAE and she started her brand with the vision to fill a gap in the market for fresh, modern womenswear that combined western and eastern styles. Reema founded her brand in 2010 and quickly saw success with her first few collections, receiving awards and accolades for her designs. But while her brand was a success, Reema experienced the difficult side of being a designer in the UAE too. The competition was great and funding and a lack of international development made things tricky. Reema took a three-season hiatus from designing before coming back stronger last year with a new collection. As she plans to launch her new offering, which will see her take a new direction, we discuss what inspires her and how to deal with setbacks and failures while continuing to stay motivated and positive.

 

What is your first memory of fashion growing up?

I used to go shopping in Sharjah with my mum, and choose outfits that really spoke out, things that I would still wear today! I remember when I was a kid, I would refuse to be dressed in anything If I didn’t choose it. Of course, at school, we had to wear uniforms, so it was the trips that we took outside of school that showed my sense of style.

 

What are some of the values that are important to you as a woman and as a brand?

Being authentic is very important, having my own voice and trying to speak out loud amid all the noise. It’s very important for me to work in a sustainable manner. As a fashion brand based in Dubai, I’ve always worked with local artisans within my reach. As a woman, I want to make the women who wear my clothes feel confident, love themselves and feel good. I also want to make sure all women whatever shape or size, are invited to the Reemami party!

 

 

What would you still like to achieve that you haven’t done yet?

So much! It’s been a ten-year journey so far, but there’s still so much to accomplish and I feel like I only just started. I’m looking forward to making stronger connections with my customers, with my international markets and most importantly, making waves and collaborating with aspiring people.

 

How do you think your heritage and upbringing has influenced your designs?

Growing up in Sharjah, which was a very cosmopolitan city, it’s fair to say that my Palestinian heritage has influenced my conservative styles, and also the longing to show happiness and colour in my designs, to uplift the mood!

 

How would you define success?

At every stage in my life, success has a new meaning. Right now success for me is about creating something that will impact other’s lives, for eternity. Something that will make a difference positively to the lives of others.

 

With every success comes setbacks or failures – how do you keep motivated when you face challenges?

Recently, life has been surprising all of us, it’s been a crazy year for everyone. When I face challenges, I take a step back and take it easy on myself. Throughout the past ten years, everything has been on fast-track, the pandemic and everything that happened this year has made me realise that there is so much more to life than meeting deadlines, and being a workaholic! I’ve realised it’s OK to do things on your terms. Thankfully the pandemic has awakened the whole fashion industry as well!

 

What can you tell us about your latest collection for Reemami?

My next collection is very dear to me. It’s one I’ve been longing to work on for years. It will be labelled as its theme ‘to be announced’ and it will be seasonless, released in drops throughout the year. This year has shone a light on some styles and made us completely disregard other styles, so we will be producing looks we know will do well and will take their time to shine, which is more sustainable as well. We won’t be producing a collection just for the sake of making clothes, our stories will be even more meaningful this time.

 

 

When are you at your most creative state of mind?

When I’m happy, I’ve worked out or had a good night’s sleep. I’m creative when I’ve had a good active weekend when I’m on good terms with my friends and family, and I’m in the zone. Designing is a process, I’ve been working on my last collection for eight months and my creativity level varied throughout, and now it’s the final stretch. It’s been cooking in my head for a while so I think it happens over time.

 

Who is the woman you design for?

She’s confident, powerful, she loves to express herself, she loves colour and art and she has strong attention to detail.

 

Who would you most like to see wearing your designs?

A woman that’s confident and is changing the world, step by step

 

What is your biggest achievement so far?

Reemami is still in its growth stages, so there is still much more to come.

 

What would you still like to achieve that you haven’t done yet?

So many things related to helping people and giving back.

 

Who or what inspires you to design?

Art, architecture, graphic design, telling a new story with every collection. My customers, the love I have for designing, my studio!

 

What is something you would like to see happen in the fashion industry in the UAE?

I would love to see the designers collaborating more, and more support for designers. I would also love to see more factories switching their business models to work with smaller quantities.

 

What would you say to anyone at the beginning of their business journey?

Get ready for this roller coaster ride, be patient, stay authentic, have a strong message and be sustainable!

 

What is the life motto you live by?

Solid baby steps.

 

What is a lesson you have learnt this year?

To appreciate life more, and to take care of yourself, your family and eat healthily.

 

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