IN THE HOUSE – KAT LEBRASSE INTERVIEWS DESIGNER AVA HASHEMI
Being raised in the UAE, what was it like growing up here?
It has definitely been a great experience. Witnessing all the progress and transformation in such a relatively short amount of time has been extremely inspiring. UAE is so much more than just home to me, It has taught me to dream big and think outside the box while not losing sight of my roots.
What challenges/support if any have you faced/received in your journey thus far as a designer?
The fashion industry in UAE is comprised of a tightly knit community of industry icons and players. They are, for the most part, very helpful and supportive. As a new brand, we owe much of our success and brand awareness to the great support of region’s media and publications. At the same time, there are many challenges along the way. The biggest challenge I have faced so far was sourcing the right suppliers and production partners in the beginning of our operation.
You originally enrolled in university to pursue a career in Marketing and Business. What prompted you to change your path and move to fashion and design?
As a child, I was always fascinated with Fashion, but growing up, the last field I thought I would end up in was Fashion. Surprisingly enough, after finishing high school in Dubai, I had my mind on Electrical Engineering and I studied a year of engineering at Boston University. During that time, I started taking part-time courses at the Fashion School in Boston. 6 months into my enrollment, I was encouraged by my instructors to design and create a collection. After doing so, I entered a competition with all the fashion graduates and to my utter shock, I won the award for the Best Upcoming Fashion Designer in New England. It was then that I got that reassurance and boost of confidence I needed to switch majors to management and start my own brand, Hâshè. Today, I feel blessed doing what I do and would not have it any other way!
When did you start Hashe and how old were you?
I started Hâshé in 2012 at the age of 21.
How would you describe your design philosophy? What kind of woman are you designing for? Who is the Hashe woman?
The Hâshè woman is a strong woman who wants to make a difference in the world she lives in. She doesn’t conform to the norms and that is apparent in the way she dresses, the art she creates, the building she designs, or even the book she writes.
Tell us a little about the inspiration behind your SS17 collection?
Depth is a collection heavily inspired by the philosophy behind contemporary art. I believe that in RTW (Ready To Wear), there is a vast distinction between fashion and clothes. Fashion is a form of visual art in which it is not only valued by its design, quality and tailoring, but also by the contingent embodiment of an idea or philosophy behind that piece. Similarly, some pieces in this collection aim to reflect the complex and multi-layered nature of the modern world, where the surface is marred or melted away to reveal the depth and its inner layers, which at times is beautiful, complex or even empty.
Describe the process you go through when commencing a new collection.
Well there is the standard process of creating a new collection, that starts from sketching all the way to two phases of sample productions, fabric sourcing and sampling, final construction, and photography. All this takes about 5 months to do. Closer to the show date, we start brainstorming and bringing to life the concept of the presentation or show that is then translated into the set up of the show and styling of the models. Lastly, there is a lot of last minute alterations and arrangements that is required for a smooth presentation.
The Middle East is known for opulent, and often extravagant glamour and style. How does that affect the choices you make in design? Do you feel that the modern, minimalistic style of Hashe has been embraced?
I have a great deal of appreciation for the prevalent style and fashion choices in the Middle-East. I believe that the new generation of middle eastern women have managed to introduce their love of opulence into their daily wardrobes catered to their busy lifestyle. Similarly, Hâshé offers staple pieces with subtle yet unique details that make the pieces stand out while maintaining their original nature and purpose.
Being still a relatively new brand, what strategies do you have in place to sustain Hashe long term?
I am very much against following the standard pathway designers take for expansion. I think a successful brand should be as creative in its business strategies as in it’s designs and branding. New brands often at times focus so much on getting industry approval and pleasing industry players that they fail to realize and fulfil the end consumer’s needs and wants. How I look at it is, the brand should be relatable and appealing to the end consumers and that would naturally generate demand and drive expansion. Pursuit of pull rather than push strategy.
Do you have a personal or brand motto?
Don’t go with the flow! Be different, be bold and be confident. Don’t let the illusion of guidelines limit your creativity.
Describe your SS17 collection in 3 words.
Expressive, clean, ironic