“I need to feel there is a story behind the clothes. Something that will make the customer feel that it was made for her.”

Raised in Paris, Linda Darahim was always going to be a style heavyweight. She says growing up in the major style destination was a huge privilege, and Darahim has certainly put it to good use. She’s now head of thouqi.com, a fashion site with a strong focus on Middle Eastern brands.

Here, she tells Emirates Woman what goes on behind the scenes of an online store. If you want to learn how to spot a trend three seasons in advance, read on.

What’s your process like when you’re looking for new brands? 

I read a lot, it is truly compulsory. Not only fashion magazines, but also all the fashion industry private publications (monthly letters aimed to fashion specialists only).

In those, you can read between the lines and see who or what might come next. Exchanging [ideas] with colleagues from the industry can guide you toward a great brand. Instagram in particular has become nowadays a great tool to find talent.

 

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What makes a designer stand out? What do you tend to look for?

There are many factors that lead us to accept a brand. First it’s the coherence of the brand in term of collection, it has to be more than just a brand. After that, [it] needs to have this mix between modern and Arabic vibe. Then of course the quality of the material and the cut are decisive in the process.

thoqui

I look for the quality, the coherence in the collection, the cut and the branding. But sincerely, I need to feel there is a story behind the clothes. Something that will make the customer feel that it was made for her.

Do you do a lot of buying trips around the region?

At the very beginning yes. Once you are known well enough in the industry, most of the brands will come directly to you.

Can you think of a local label you were particularly excited to find?

Haa Designs is a brand that I am very fond of and was happy to get on board. Their cut is very neat… You can wear her clothes from year to year without feeling that you are outdated.

thoqui

She has classic pieces which makes her designs in timeless. [Haa Designs will be live on Thoqui soon.]

Please tell me a bit about yourself – what’s your background?

I was born in Paris. Growing up in such a city is truly a privilege. People in general have so much to tell and share in terms of history and general culture.

I [studied at] EFAP, an international business school specialises in communication and journalism. After that I worked in a PR agency and moved on to an online French company which specialised in fashion.

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How did you end up in this role?

In the beginning of my career, I had the opportunity to be formally trained as a buyer. Paris is an exciting city where fashion is truly more than just an industry. You know how Parisian people love to regularly renew their closet. It’s part of our way of life. Therefore, the demand for online shopping grew rapidly and steadily with the development of the internet.

I was immediately asked to study the fashion market thoroughly and to deliver what these new customers needed. More than that, we were asked to guess their future needs and trends. It was a very exciting experience.

What all this taught me is that actual experience in the field is the most important thing to becoming a fashion buyer.

What do you love about your work?

 
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To be honest, we do have average days filled with hours of work behind the computer analysing figures. That’s certainly not the most glamorous part of the job. Yet it helps us prepare the other aspects of it such as visiting fashion shows and stores,  discovering and picking designers no one knows about yet, meeting the people who are behind today’s fashion, from the designers to the men and women who actually hand-make a dress or a jewelry piece.

That way I keep in touch with the results of the works my team and I produce… I can see how it goes from an idea or a piece of material somewhere in Dubai or Kuwait to something people will buy in a shop or online and be seen with in the street of some place in GCC or South America. This is sincerely what I love about it.

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Images: Supplied