October’s – ‘The Bravery Issue’ – Download Now

With over a decade of experience in fashion, Sheikha Amal Al Maktoum decided to brave going it alone.

In 2016 Sheikha Amal Al Maktoum decided to launch her own luxury fashion brand, Azzalia. Specialising in couture abayas, gowns and eveningwear, four years on this brave leap of faith is paying off. Emirates Woman sat down with Sheikha Amal to find out about the growth of the brand, the inspiration behind the label and to ask what bravery means to her.

You started Azzalia in 2016. Why did you want to launch your own fashion label?

I have been in this industry since 2007. I had another fashion brand with a partner in 2006, but a decade later I decided to launch my own brand with its own DNA. I always had a passion for fashion although I studied business, but happily these two spheres sit well together.

How have things developed and changed in the last four years for the brand?

I think the brand has evolved and managed to build a strong presence in the region because when I first launched it I insisted that the brand ran with three different lines dedicated to three different types of woman in mind so there is an element of the bespoke.


What was the inspiration behind your label?

I was always passionate about fashion and it was just a continuation of this passion. Azzalia stands for Azalea, which is a flower, but I spelt it with my children’s names Azza and Alia who are the joy of my life and this brings a personal touch.

What does Azzalia represent?

Other than representing my girls’ names, Azzalia is a representation of my love for fashion.

What sets Azzalia apart from other clothing brands?

Azzalia with its three lines offers women a large selection of different styles. When we design we consider a lot of elements – the silhouette, fabric, trend, quality. We have access to suppliers worldwide to ensure that our fabrics and embellishments are unique and of the best quality. We keep up to date with the next season’s emerging trends and I travel extensively, visiting textile exhibitions worldwide to source the best materials.

The name of your brand takes inspiration from your children. What has it been like launching a brand with young children?

Well, I have always been a working woman and my children always have been the push and inspiration to continue developing my brand also with the continuous support of my husband and parents.

You originally studied business at university, what led you to go into fashion?

I think a fashion brand without a strong business acumen can’t survive. Nevertheless, I took a few courses in Central Saint Martins, London to enhance my skills.

Azzalia (1)

How have things changed for you, your brand and the way you work since COVID-19?

COVID-19 has changed the world, and the fashion industry has been highly affected, but we already have a strong well-established online presence so we focused on that. In addition, we launched capsule collections to accommodate the new changes in shopping trends. It has been a tough time but we are very positive and focusing on growing the brand and being part of the industry’s recovery.

What excites you about the fashion industry in the UAE and the GCC region?

I think the UAE has a very central location in the Middle East and is a great hub surrounded by different GCC markets such as Saudi Arabia. During the past few years, the fashion industry has evolved and the clients have definitely become more aware and selective which gave an opportunity for our brand to grow and get appreciated as the style and quality have caught the eye of the trendy customers.

Where do you get your motivation from?

I have been supported greatly by my family, they encourage and push me to excel and create.

What advice do you wish you had received on the beginning of your journey to success?

When I launched my brand I already had over 10 years’ experience in this industry. I’m a fast learner and I believe you learn from your mistakes, so it’s all a process of trial and error.

What hurdles have you had to overcome?

I never see hurdles only challenges and they are all learning experiences that make you stronger.

What are your top career milestones?

Firstly, I was Vice-Chairperson of the Sharjah Business Women Council for six years, where I got to work with businesswomen and develop programmes to support them. I also won a Dubai Fashion & Design Council award and got to showcase my brand at London Fashion Week. Finally, I won an Arab Women Award – Designer of the Year in 2017.

When it comes to the future of Azzalia, what are you most excited about?

The brand has great potential and we are now focusing on international expansion because I feel the brand is ready to move to the next level.

This is ‘The Bravery Issue’ – how do you define bravery?

It is the courage to survive when others can’t.

October’s – ‘The Bravery Issue’ – Download Now

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