Emirates Woman meets Ria Maria, the Dubai schoolgirl who has launched her own fashion line at just 16.
While many of us would be worried about our end of school exams, one local teenager has already put her foot on the first rung toward a highly successful career. Here we meet Ria Maria, the UAE’s 16 year old designer, ready to take the fashion world by storm.
So first off, if you could just introduce yourself for us…
I’m Ria Maria Roy, and I was born and brought up in Dubai. I’m 16 years old, and recently launched my new brand Ria Maria, which sells simple styles and basic cuts in soft, comfortable fabrics. We’ve got new designs constantly coming in, which I believe is something all teens need. Our clothing is also one size fits most, and our fabrics are light for the Dubai weather.
What made you want to get into fashion design?
[I found buying clothes] hard in Dubai, as it was only ever following the biggest trends, and lacking in the simple yet stylish clothing I liked, so I’d always do my shopping abroad. Having my own style gave me the confidence to never have to explain my outfits nor complain about them, hence our slogan “for girls that never complain and never explain”.
So how did you get started? How did you turn it into a business?
When shopping abroad, I’d always find pieces that I liked, but when we got back to Dubai I couldn’t find any of that – that’s how I got the idea. The idea started to grow, and soon enough I just needed a company to support me.
Was there anyone in particular that encouraged or influenced you to break into the fashion industry?
The move was purely by accident. I actually wanted to go into the performing arts industry.
Who would you identify as your target demographic?
Our main audience is teenagers and young adults; however our clothing can be a part of anyone’s wardrobe.
Which designers do you admire?
I was never encouraged to look at high fashion and expensive designers, so I developed a simplistic style, which is more suitable for everyone.
Who or what would you say is the biggest inspiration behind your designs?
Inspiration comes from around the world, be it in a shop window or someone walking past me on the street.
What’s the plan for the next few years?
To open more stores both regionally and internationally, to make Ria Maria more accessible.
Will you continue your brand if you decide to go to university?
Of course, as I want to bring Ria Maria to more countries and cities, I’d love to bring my brand to wherever I go to university, too.
How does the production process work?
Starting from scratch, we actually buy the raw cotton, make the yarn, and then the fabric, because we wanted very specific fabrics. We use a lot of viscose, modal and micro-modal, which are normally only found in high-end brands.
Do you source your materials locally or elsewhere?
Do you make the clothes yourself, or do you have a team of people?
We work with a very small factory, and we are now considering investing in the factory to expand its production capabilities.
So where can we find your clothes?
We’ve recently opened a Ria Maria store in Al Joud Centre, Al Quoz. We hope to launch our website soon too.
If you could dress any celebrity, who would it be and why?
Zendaya [the Disney actress]. I feel like she’s a clear representation of the Ria Maria girl and is also a great role model to all of us.
Ria Maria, Al Joud Centre, Al Quoz, Dubai. Tel: (04) 3284009. riamariacrush.com.