Dubai has made its mark as the fashion hub of the Middle East, and Dubai style is looked upon all over the world. Perhaps it is the blending of cultures that gives Dubai the edge over other cities, and taking advantage of this stylish amalgamation are two Dubai based designers Chené and Sabina, with their brand Covert Couture - which houses an eclectic range of kaftans, robes and abayas to suit every occasion! We at ExpatWoman caught up with these lovely girls to know more about their life as expats, their brand and their vision.
Tell us a bit about you both and your brand.
Chené - I am originally from South Africa but I have spent the majority of my life in the UAE, being here for 21 years I am a true third culture child. Apart from running Covert Couture with Sabina; I am also a trained counsellor.
Sabina- Having spent most of my life in the UK I moved to Dubai 5 years ago. I would now call myself a true expat. I am a mother of two girls who love fashion and beauty. In these five years, I have worked in marketing and PR. I met Chené whilst working together and over a very short period of time realised that we had many things in common: sense of humour being one of them and aspirations to succeed being another. We both subsequently left that organisation and moved to different companies. However, we continued to be friends. Both of us had wanted to start our own business and do something together.
We wanted something moderate to reflect the region we were in and to also be different. Everything we found was either too expensive in relation to quality or design or too Western or too Eastern. Both of us love fashion, comfort and style and felt we could add to the diverse variety of styles in Dubai reflecting the cultural mix of the UAE.
What is the story behind your brand, how did you get started?
Chené - Growing up in the UAE, I have been inspired by the region and the eclectic fashion that comes with the mixture of cultures. I am modest with what I wear and I love to throw on a coat or kaftan to bring flair to an everyday look; something that is versatile and stylish enough to be worn from day to night. Each of our designs is unique, we only produce a limited number of lovingly created pieces. We do not want to create hundreds of the same designs but rather have an exclusive range making sure that the quality of each piece is of the highest standard.
How we initially got started is a very different story. I had a dream about my father who had passed away a few years ago, I believe in fate and being taken in a certain direction at a specific time, for some reason this dream was a ‘push’ in this direction. The next night I had the idea that we should start this company as I have always been interested in fashion and immediately called Sabina with the idea.
Sabina – Chené has had many ideas over the years and more often than not know she will forget about them pretty quickly but this one seemed different, I make quick decisions if something feels right. I knew we work well together and I can rely on Chené 100% to follow through, I could not think of a better business partner. I was in the UK visiting family when she called me. I landed in Dubai a week later and we were in the office setting up our company within 4 days. We worked quickly and with enthusiasm, within seventeen days we set up our company had our entire first range ready and were on the first day of our photo-shoot. We did everything ourselves, from sourcing fabric to creating our website. We did not rush our line, however, we completed it in that time because we worked night and day to provide a high quality yet fairly priced item.
What inspired your brand name and logo?
The brand name was inspired by our idea of being modest (Covert i.e. concealed or hidden) yet fashionable clothing. Couture is self-explanatory (and it rolled off the tongue).
The logo is four interlocking C’s reflecting the brand name. We wanted a recognizable emblem for our logo as well as the name. We worked hard finding the right logo design as well as the right colours to reflect the quality of our brand. We wanted something stylish, recognizable and a reflection of our high-quality brand.
Our tagline reflects our brand and how understatement is a statement in itself – “Say who you are without speaking…” We want our designs to speak volumes about the ladies who wear them without them having to say anything.
Where do you find your clothing inspiration?
We have to be honest and say, “Most of the first range was inspired by the mixture of cultures around us, the large variety of materials available and what we would like to wear”. We had designs that we were sure we wanted to have in our first range, for example, the Signature CC line has large metallic embellishments/pendants on the pockets which we both love the design of; the practicality of having pockets in something stylish that we could wear to work and dress up later with heels. The second range, which will be released at the end of October/ beginning of November, is ready for party season; it’s edgier than the first range veering towards high fashion designs. We are very conscious of charitable events in particular related to ‘women and children’ and in line with ‘Breast Cancer Awareness’ month in October we are including a very girly pink Bisht where the profits will be donated to the breast cancer awareness cause.
The girls’ line; from ages 2 to 10 was inspired by Baby K and the need to find something different for her to wear. Having Arab heritage Baby K needed something for family events such as Eid, weddings and family gatherings this inspired a range for girls so they could also be stylish, comfortable and different. All little girls like to dress like their mummies and we felt that something complimentary with the ladies range would be ‘fun and fresh’ for little girls to feel special. We researched the market and found nothing that was different, affordable and stylish for young girls.
Describe your ideal customer.
We would say “today's woman” and I know this seems broad but we don’t think age should limit how fashionable you are or want to be. Whether you are working or looking after a family each aspect of a woman's life is demanding. We believe every woman deserves to feel special and comfortable in what she wears and more importantly reflect her uniqueness both walking in and leaving a room.
Where can we buy your clothing?
We are currently selling online on both www.covertcouture.ae
and on Croutique
. We offer free delivery
within the UAE from our website. We also participate in events where our customers can try on our pieces and see the high quality of fabric and stitching. Having most recently participated in the Expatwoman Living in Dubai
event and have also been a part of the La Loupe pop up market on the in Abu Dhabi.
Any recommendations for others looking to start up their own brand?
Chené – Fear is only temporary, regret lasts forever. Do not let ‘daily routine’, the fear of failing or even financial status hold you back from making a decision to start your own brand. Whether it is well planned and thought out or completely spontaneous and based purely on a gut feeling, do not wait as the time will never be ‘right’, follow your passion today, follow your heart today and remember you can do it!
Sabina - Trust in your gut, you know you can make something work as long as you are willing to put the hard work in and stick with it. Often people convince themselves it is too difficult to set up a business especially in the UAE, however, I would say there are many helpful people out there and the UAE is a great place to start something new!