Meet Raheel Al Roudhan: Founder of Fabric of Society, the latest e-commerce destination to come out of Kuwait.
Championing exciting streetwear, next-gen and cult labels, Fabric of Society is a breath of fresh air amongst a sea of online luxury game players in and out of the region. Here, the Kuwaiti founder discusses how her love of fashion, drive for creativity, and a strong influence on street style culture kickstarted the ambition into fruition.
What was your Aha! Moment that got this company started?
I always knew I was never going to work on something other than fashion. I live and breathe it and think people underestimate style and how it influences so many things! Fabric of Society ultimately started from me wanting access to these niche brands, speaking with others who wanted them too, and realizing there was an opportunity to create a new fashion world for the Middle East that was youthful, more experimental, and in my opinion has more of an edge.
What sets it apart from other online retailers in the region?
The brands we stock really set us apart. They are bold and exciting, and reflect our clientele – she’s youthful, and confident in her style but appreciates luxury, from our fabrics to the service we deliver.
Fabric of Society brings the best hard-to-find labels and pieces to the Middle East. How do you go about curating the selection?
Next-gen designers tend to have younger businesses and a distinct brand DNA – so, yes, this is partly down to instinct and forecasting how you think the brand will evolve and develop. You need to assess the brand’s commercial creativity. For example: do you think the brand’s distinctive USP is also viable to sell? Do you see longevity in the brand’s hero pieces? Do you see product growth within categories? Is the business scalable? – this is especially important for brands that focus on sustainable manufacturing, which tends to have longer lead times and sourcing materials is more challenging. It is also down to taste levels so it’s important to have a buying team who relate and resonate with the aesthetic and vision that I have for the company.
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Which fashion capital has most influenced your style and your buys?
That’s hard as so many places spark inspiration. We visit all the key fashion cities regularly, but also other cities such as Barcelona, Dubai, and Berlin always inspire me.
What do you think makes a good fashion collection?
At the core, it needs to be a really strong design idea and my favourites are those where it runs right through the whole collection – not a single item seems detached from the central theme or idea. Brands such as Aleksandre Akhalkatsishvili do it so well – each season I want every single piece.
What does it take to spot next-gen talent? Is there a formula, process or is it instinctive?
The market is well served with mega brands and well-known luxury brands. The Buying team has curated brands that sit apart by being fresh and distinctive, whilst maintaining quality and craft. We focus on brands that offer more directional collections that serve up of-the-moment trends but also offer an understated, relaxed luxury that feels relevant to the market. We also champion brands like Rombaut, (di)vision and Ahlwualia that focus on sustainable practices or ethical initiatives. We look for conscious brands because we align with these values, but we also strive to increase the dialogue surrounding sustainable fashion design in the Middle East. Finally, it’s important to me that FoS is a shopping destination that promotes global brands. I particularly appreciate the incredible talent coming out of Seoul Fashion Week. Ultimately, our goal is to offer the fashion-aware customer in the Middle East a new platform of emerging brands and niche international designers that have a fresh perspective and a unique USP.
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Fabric of Society’s tagline is “The New Home of Relaxed Luxury”. What does luxury look like for you these days?
It used to mean a dress from a very well-known brand or a bag from one of the big fashion houses, but now it’s more about choice and connecting with your customer. We know our customer wants incredible quality but they also want a story and to feel part of a community, which often comes from the smaller niche brands.
How would you like to develop the brand?
I’m excited about some of the new brands we have coming onto Fabric of Society over the next few seasons. They are responsible for so many cult pieces and I’m thrilled to have them join. As we grow, I really want to stay true to what my customer wants so I will develop with her.
What excites you about the fashion and retail industry in the Middle East region?
That this is just the beginning! I am seeing more home-grown businesses start and it makes me proud. It also ensures a connection with customers in a more genuine way, I think. Creativity as a whole is really excelling in the Middle East too, from stylists to photographers and artists.
What are the philosophies you live by in style and in business?
My mantra is ‘Good things do not come to those who wait!’ If I see a product I love, I want it immediately – which is why I wanted my business to have same-day delivery in Kuwait. If I have an idea for my business, I am the same, I want to do it straight away and continue the momentum.
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