Zaid Affas Discusses His Latest Collection and the Honour of Being Recognised by Fashion Trust Arabia

Lindsay Judge   |   08-05-2022

Born and raised in Kuwait to Iraqi parents, Zaid Affas has always been inspired by the Middle East. After immigrating with his family to London, aged 10 he was able to grow up blending the inspirations of the East and the West to further develop his love for design.


Affas graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design with a degree in Menswear Fashion before assuming positions at several international labels including Ports1961 and Ralph Lauren. Zaid moved to Los Angeles after finding it to be a hub for inspiration and he launched his own brand in 2014. His designs play on the true luxury of tailoring, demi-couture processes and architectural forms, combining the timeless and classic with a touch of modernity.


Last year Zaid was honoured by Fashion Trust Arabia for his designs. As the winner of the ready-to-wear category, he was recognised for his masterful tailoring. Taking him back to his roots in the Middle East, this experience has allowed him to raise awareness and grow his brand in the region and share his designs with the women who live here. We discover more about what’s next for the designer.



What can you tell us about your latest collection and what you are currently working on? 

At the moment I’m a hundred per cent focused on production. Once we ship, I’ll be starting to work on a new collection focused on reworking the core of my work. My latest collection was also a new proposal of the ZAID AFFAS core brand values. I believe in the continuation, reworking and improving intrinsic good concepts.


What did it mean for you to be recognised for your work by Fashion Trust Arabia? 

It meant everything. To be acknowledged by what is now one of the most formidable, internationally recognised, fashion competitions that represent talent from my culture and heritage is an honour. I’m proud to be part of the Fashion Trust Arabia family, its history and future, and to represent my region of the world.


How do you think the platform is helping to support talented designers in the region? 

The exposure internationally of Arabic talent, plus the connections, mentorships and introductions to and by some of the most established people in the industry, is phenomenal for young designers from the region.



What first inspired you to start your own fashion label? 

I have a very specific point of view on design and it was important for me to express that through my work. I wanted to build a conceptually designed timeless, luxury wardrobe for the ZAID AFFAS women.


Who is the woman that you design for? 

She is a woman of intellectual understanding of understated true luxury.


What is the current vision for your brand? 

To continue to grow within manageable steps, work with more of the right retail partners, and to develop our private client business further and launch our e-commerce website.



You have lived in many locations around the world – how has this inspired your designs?

I really believe, and speaking from experience, that the more places and parts of the world you visit and the different cultures and languages you discover influences your ability to create for a wider range of women. I always think about finding the right shade of a colour to complement as many different skin tones, I think about how a design might work on different body shapes if it would work within different cultures and societies etc. It enables you to learn what people of different cultures and societies like and don’t like.


What is the place or destination that inspires you the most? 

Everywhere can and does inspire me. You can get a brilliant idea from a building, or a person and so on that inspires thoughts and ideas in any city I’ve been to. Having said that, the reason why I’m based in Los Angeles is that I feel I can be the most creative here. The light, nature, and freedom to do what you want, when you want all provide an amazing place to create.



Tell us about your creative process and the materials you use? 

Anything can be a starting point for my collections, be it an art piece of art in a museum, a building, nature, a person, it can be anything. But I do personally like to work more like an architect or industrial designer, so materials, fabrications and the end-use of a garment are a big part of my creative process and key to establishing my brand’s core values. I spend a lot of time reviewing and selecting fabrics. Much like cooking, if your ingredients are not good and perfectly mixed then the meal would not be the best it can be.


Can you share a little on the fashion industry in the Middle East and where you would like to see it go moving forward? 

I truly believe as a region and as people, we will be at the forefront of the industry when more designers Arab designers build brands based on modern design. The Arab world has covered if not conquered the very dressy eveningwear section of the industry and is also covering the cultural heritage part of the industry. I think there is still room for more modern, design-led brands.



When are you at your most creative state of mind? 

When I have time to think with no distractions, listening to music that inspires me and all in great sunlight. I need to let my thoughts wander, analyse, dream, engineer and conceptualise all at the same time. This environment allows that to happen freely.


What is a lesson you have learnt along the way since starting your brand? 

There are too many to choose from but I think to embrace the current cultural ways of doing things. Also to focus your craft and concept.


Who is a person that has been an inspiration or mentor to your throughout your career and why?

So many people have either been an inspiration or mentors to me over the years. But within the industry, I’d have to say the legendary retailer Linda Dresner has been a continued supporter, mentor and friend since we first met. Also, Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz is a close friend who has been an amazing support and someone that I can always go to for sound advice and her impeccable point of view.


What is your first memory of fashion? 

My parent’s impeccable taste at dressing when I was a child. They always looked so chic, sophisticated and elegant when they went out and socialised, which happened a lot back in Kuwait.



What is the professional motto that you live by? 

Work hard at what you passionately believe in. Stay positive no matter what comes your way and stay true to yourself.


Are there any designers that inspire you or you love to wear?

There have been many designers that have inspired me throughout my career. Cristobal Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Azzedine Alaia, Jil Sander, Yohji Yamamoto, Jean Paul Gaultier, Rick Owens, Phoebe Philo and Alber Elbaz to name a small selection of the many greats.


What can we expect to see from you for the rest of this year? 

We are launching our own e-commerce channel under a newly updated website soon, we are planning to do personal presentations to private clients in the Middle East, and a new collection later in the year.


What is a message you would send to our readers and your fans in the Middle East? 

We’d love to meet you when we are back in the region, come see us and discover the collection!