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Saudi Designer Shahd AlShehail Believes That Fashion Has A Bright Future After Covid-19

Shahd AlShehail’s label Abdadia mingles heritage, sustainability, fashion, and Saudi identity.

The Covid-19 pandemic brought a whirlwind of change affecting lifestyle, industries, and jobs. When it comes to fashion and its ecosystems, Saudi female entrepreneur Shahd Al Shehail has an optimistic viewpoint on the future of businesses. She believes that businesses offering an added value in these trying times will thrive.

Al Shehail is the mastermind behind Saudi fashion label Abadia, which marries heritage and style in a sustainable way. A strong advocate of ethical fashion, she was also the co-founder and CEO of Just, a social enterprise aiming to bring transparency in fashion supply chains, bring dignity, and save lives. Al Shehail’s also includes an inspiring global fellowship at Acumen Fund, where she worked globally in Rwanda, Turkey, Armenia, and India.

Hailing from Al-Mubarraz in Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahsa region, the trailblazer holds an MBA from John Hopkins Univerisity and has been a guest speaker at at major global events such as Harvard Social Enterprise Conference and the Youth Philanthropy Summit

Speaking to Arab News, Al Shehail said: “I believe if we aren’t adding anything new or original to the work we’re doing, there’s no point in doing it. The world doesn’t need more clothes per se,” she said. In these unstable times, designers have managed to adapt, moved promoting their collection to the digital world, and remodeled their shipping systems to suit customer demands. Despite all these arrangements, achieving business goals and success has never been more challenging. “Even before the pandemic, it was quite hard to set up a successful fashion brand. The market was really quite oversaturated,” added Al-Shehail.

The 34-year-old fashion designer makes her ethical luxury label stand out by adding a contemporary touch to traditional crafts. With the image of today’s nomads in mind, Al Shehail’s creative genius designs unique piece binding history, class and elegance.

With consumers wanting value to every penny they spent, especially when it comes to wearing luxurious items which will be part of their lives for years to come. Saudi fashion label delivers that and more. 

An Abadia staple is the Sadu geometric weave design, typical of Bedouin societies, has been part of the label’s collection since its founding in 2016. Another preserved design technique is naqda “where thin strands of metal are embroidered onto lightweight fabrics such as silk and tulle,” as Arab News reported. Farwas have been a standalone landmark pieces to the brand. A floor-length robe originally worn by men, Abadia fawras combine intricate design, femininity, and empowerment with Arab women in mind. 

“Whether we recognize it or not, we are affected by those that came before us”, the Saudi designer once told Mille World to her commitment to culture. 

Social impact is at the heart of Abadia’s ethos. Garments are hand-embroidered in Al-Qassim, where the company has helped to improve the livelihoods of about 45 traditional artisans, raising their income by 40 percent, Al-Shehail told the Saudi daily.

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