Founder of 1309 Studios, Ghada Al Subaey talks us through the creative process and building her brand.

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?

I try to avoid using my phone for the first hour as I have a busy day ahead running two companies. It is extremely important for me to clear my head and centre myself. Something else I do is to stick to a daily meditation practice for at least 10 minutes and then journal. Journaling helps me out a lot as it gets all the noise out of my head and on paper, this enables me to welcome the day with a clear mind. Also, a gratitude journal is a practice that is miraculous and life changing, I religiously do that every morning.

What inspired you to launch 1309 Studios?

I began exploring my personal style around the age of 15. I always found myself buying fabrics and taking it to the tailor to create styles that weren’t available in Qatar at the time. When I was at university, my love for fashion grew and I would mainly wear clothes that I created myself. This was when I started designing kaftans for my friends and family. I was designing and running it all from home, there was no advertising around it. Eventually, I started to get a lot of orders due to word of mouth and that was when I started conceptualising and working on launching my own brand.

Where did the name 1309 Studios come from?

13/09 is my mother’s birthday. The brand is dedicated to my mother as she is my style inspiration. When I was younger, I used to watch her stitch and cut, and this is where I learned all about fabrics and stitching.

Your signature prints are the hallmark of the brand. How do you choose the prints?

Our inspiration has always been nature, spirituality and women. Our designs and motives are always driven from nature and the flow of nature, that’s why we have a lot of organic patterns and prints and organic lines
specially in the curvy swirls that we keep on using in prints and cuts to mimic the flow of life and the waves of the sea. We are very inspired by astrology which is very apparent in our designs. The women of 1309 and how she evolves, and changes inspire us to innovate and create new innovative ways to dress. The spirituality inspiration is in the poetry and the message that we embroider on the abaya while making sure to use sustainable fabrics and adopt an ethical approach in our designs.

1309 Studios

What is your opinion on the abaya, and how would you style one?

There is usually a stigma around abayas, and I want to change that. I would love for abayas to become as respected globally as kimonos. I want to see everyone around the world wearing them as a fashion statement, not necessarily to dress in a modest matter. Abayas should not be seen as “less than”. Our aim is to modernise the abaya. Every designer in the world has made a kimono, and it seems like something that is fashionable and celebrated. I would love for my ideas and inspiration to create change. Whether it is about applying sustainable approaches in our work or utilizing environmentally friendly packaging, I want the brand to continue to make a positive impact towards the community that we have built for women. I would like to expand globally and represent the Arab world in a global fashion space.

Talk us through the creative process behind the collection.

When designing for this collection, I was always seeking for new ways to be innovative and distinctive in the designs. We developed pieces that you can put together or wear separately. This offers women several options to integrate 1309 into their day-to-day outfits as well as special occasions. 1309 is known for their trench coat abayas and we experimented and developed a subtle upgrade from previous styles this time around.

What is the hero piece of this collection?

Tassels are a 1309 signature embroidery element, and the Cher abaya is beautifully hand embroidered with beaded palm tree tassels on an hourglass silhouette. This is definitely one of the most unique pieces and the highlight of this collection.

What advice would you give to women wanting to start their own brand?

As a fashion designer, the most important aspects are creativity and balance. Putting effort into designing and choosing the fabrics and textiles involves a lot of dedication and hard work. However, seeing your designs
come to life is always extremely rewarding.

You started 1309 to create a safe and supportive place for the female community of Qatar; can you expand this?

The idea behind the 1309 studio woman is to create a safe place for women where they can come together to empower and uplift each other professionally and emotionally; to develop a platform where women feel free to speak up and take a moment to heal from the daily challenges of life in today’s fast-paced technological world. The clothes they wear should not be a restraint. The fabrics, colours, and cuts that I choose make the girls feel fun and alive. It should feel like an outfit, rather than a covering for an outfit. The fabric we use at 1309 is meant to complement all various body types and shapes.

1309 Studios

The latest collection “Eternal Unfolding” represents the 1309 woman. What does it mean to you to be a modern woman today?

A modern, 1309 woman is a carefree, daring woman who stands out. In today’s world, women are comfortable enough to be their true selves. Women have become more daring and are showing more interest in wanting to try designs and embrace new ideas and new ways of dressing. They are looking for unique designs and became more courageous in choosing colours and cuts.

This is the Style Issue – how would you define your own style?

I would say that I don’t have a specific style. I take on everyday how I feel, and this is presented through my designs as well – having a huge variety for different women. I wouldn’t categorise my style as sophisticated or edgy because it all depends on how I’m feeling on the day, what errands I have to run, and I dress accordingly. Enclothed cognition is a theory that is backed by science, and it is basically how clothes affect and influence psychological matters in the human. So, for me, my clothes support my needs and tasks for the day as well as how I want to feel that day. If I’m feeling soft then I try to choose materials and colours that reflect that whereas if I’m feeling powerful, I go for something sharp with dark colours.

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