How Sara Elemary turned personal struggle into a fashion label


DUBAI: Personal struggles sometimes make for the most successful businesses, or at least that was the case for Egyptian-Canadian designer Sara Elemary.

After finding a gap in the modest fashion market 12 years ago, she decided to launch her own eponymous streetwear brand in 2009.

“There was a great shortage in modest wear, and I personally used to struggle,” she said in an interview with Arab News. “It was really hard to find anything. You would always have to layer pieces and you ended up wearing a lot during the summer time.”

The designer said she found it really hard to express her identity through fashion at the time. So, she took it upon herself to make it easier for people who were also finding it challenging to stay stylish, yet modest.

Over the past few years, Elemary said that there has been a notable shift in the modest fashion industry. “It does not have to be wearing a hijab (a headscarf), but just the idea of modesty. We’ve been seeing it in international fashion shows.”

This shift gave Elemary’s made-in-Egypt label more exposure, she said. “Society and media started to look at modest brands in a different way. It does not have to be tacky or different, on the contrary, the acceptance in society for modest fashion has increased a lot,” she explained.

However, with that, competition has increased. “It puts a lot of pressure (on me), because I have to be more creative,” she said.

The designer’s main goal is to present “modest wear differently, with a twist of elegance” to target not only conservative women, but all women. “My challenge is that I want to create something that everyone can accept,” she said.

Elemary recently launched her Fall/Winter 2020-21 collection titled “Urban Lines.” Bold colors, statement pieces, striking lines and urban landscapes all fuse together in the designer’s latest line.

The designer also merged different designs and fabrics together when it came to styling the campaign shots — plaid shirts over joggers and camo prints with sequins, highlighting the line’s endless mix-and-match possibilities.

One of the Elemary’s main dreams is to see her creations at high-end UK department store Selfridges.

“One of the things that also really matters to me is when I am traveling and see someone wearing my designs. I really love that,” she said.

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