Omani designer Buthaina Al Zadjali on launching her brand, Bthaina, and bringing a modern touch to heritage.
What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?
I love waking up early as this allows me to plan the day ahead. I then go through my emails and messages, review sketches, design ideas, and meet with my team. I wake up 30 minutes before my kids and start my day with a good cup of coffee while spending five to 10 minutes journaling and planning. Once the kids wake up, we all have breakfast together and then I get them ready for school. It’s a bit chaotic once they wake up, but I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.
What inspired you to launch Bthaina?
Through my admiration for rugged landscapes and iridescent desert textures, my inspiration stemmed from my love of nature, as I wanted to replicate the significance and beauty of nature through luxurious fabrics. I first started out in 2010 designing kaftans and abayas for friends and select customers and after such a positive response I opened my first boutique in Muscat in 2011. In 2016, I decided I wanted to take my brand internationally, so I started working with a fashion consultancy in Dubai to rebrand and help me take the next step. My collections are now available at my boutique in Muscat along with Ounass, Threads Styling, Closet Qatar and Galeries Lafayette Doha.
Your abayas and kaftans are known for their exquisite details. Talk us through the creative process.
My creative process starts with inspiration. I’m inspired by everything around me, from the beauty of Oman or my travels for example. I then choose a colour palette and start sketching. From there I select fabrics and embellishments and work with my team on creating a sample collection.
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How has your brand evolved since it launched?
My brand has evolved with an identity that has grown into a real-life concept that can be appreciated and worn. Through my Omani heritage and love for complex textures, I’ve emphasised the ethereal ethos of Omani dunes, and several other beautiful components of my heritage that are dear to my heart.
Each silhouette is embellished. Was this adornment part of the vision for the brand from the outset?
I’ve always had a clear vision of the kind of design and embellishments that I wanted to incorporate from the outset. I’ve planned the embellishments as a part of the original concept and design process. I’ve always wanted to create luxurious kaftans with exquisite handcrafted details and embellishments. This is the DNA of Bthaina.
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Your pieces embody a modern elegance. How do you seamlessly incorporate this into each design?
Through specified colour palettes, intricate beading, fine embellishment and metallic motifs I’ve been able to paint a sense of modernity regarding a distinctive perspective that allows for flourishing creativity and freedom of expression. My designs can be dressed up and worn to special events or worn in a more casual way depending on how you style the piece.
Your SS23 collection, Amber Sands, takes notes from Rub’ al Khali. Tell us more.
I looked to the beautiful Rub’ al Khali (Empty Quarter) for this collection and referenced the red sands that form breathtaking dunes that are hundreds of feet high and visible, as far as the eye can see. The expanse of the desert is incredibly beautiful day and night, the colours, the sunset and sunrise, all inspired the colour palette while the shifting sands inspired the silhouettes.
What is your take on trends?
I don’t tend to follow seasonal trends, rather I focus on the DNA of my brand and create designs that come from my heart. Each season I refer to a particular inspiration and aesthetic and build my collection from there.
Do you enjoy the creative or commercial side of the business?
For me, I love the creative side, it’s where my passion lies. I love the whole process of designing from creating a moodboard to sketching, selecting fabrics and designing the embellishment patterns. I also love seeing my pieces come to life and working on creating the visuals for my brand. I have a wonderful team who assists me on the commercial side. I am also keen to be involved in the commercial side of business.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Trust yourself and believe that you are always on the right path. You cannot miss what already belongs to you.
This is The Elevate Issue – what small things elevate your life?
The small things that elevate my life would have to be the little things, such as a good cup of coffee, being outdoors amongst the beautiful nature of Oman and spending time with my family.
April’s – The Elevate Issue – Download Now
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