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This Dubai-based designer is driving the inclusive fashion movement – News

Published: Thursday, November 9, 2023, 8:49 p.m.

Last update: Thursday, November 9, 2023, 11:24 p.m.

Dima Ayad understands the soft power of fashion. A well-known name in the region, he has worked in public relations for many years and launched his own public relations agency, DAC Communications, in 2020. He operates primarily in the hospitality and beauty industries. She is also the founder and creative director of her eponymous fashion brand, Dima Ayad, known for its size inclusivity, offering sizes ranging from XS to 4XL.

A curvy woman herself, Ayad founded the brand in 2010 when she found it difficult to find clothing options that suited her body type. She recently became the first designer to launch a size-inclusive brand on luxury e-commerce platform Net-A-Porter. She has often spoken out against brands that charge more for larger women’s clothing, commonly known in the industry as a “fat tax.”

At the most recent edition of Dubai Fashion Week, Ayad opened her show with a video presentation featuring watermelons, the Palestinian symbol of peace, and a clip from Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, which addresses humanity . The collection includes pieces designed for petite, medium and plus-size women, and body “inclusivity” remains the focus of her brand. This season has a predilection for bright colors, metallics and polka dots. These are garments created for women who want to make a difference with their clothing. It’s no surprise that Italian plus-size brand Marina Rinaldi, part of the Max Mara Group, chose to collaborate with her. The collection will be available at the brand’s store in Dubai Mall and in select stores worldwide. Edited excerpts from an interview:

From Net-A-Porter to Marina Rinaldi: how did you become the pin-up girl of plus-size fashion?

Honestly, I think designing clothes for all body types and advocating for them is a significant differentiator in itself. I don’t see many brands doing that. It is important that it be one size larger. I can relate to the challenges that women of a certain size face.

Where is the Arab world in the body positivity conversation?

Honestly, it’s barely discussed or taken advantage of. When was the last time you saw diversity on the covers of regional publications? If the models weren’t super skinny, they were famous for something else. Normal-sized models on a cover in a normal month are few and far between. Advertisers also play an important role in this: who they want to show their jewelry and luxury clothing to (which often do not sell larger sizes). The conversation comes up from time to time, and I’ve never been banned from having conversations about it, but these conversations tend to fade after a while.

Your opinion on the ‘fat tax’?

I am horrified by the term and what it represents. Perhaps this tax should be applied to everything and everyone who overindulges.

Is body positivity really part of the mainstream fashion conversation, or is it just a token?

Definitely symbolic. Inclusivity has been in style for a while, but we’ve seen a decline in recent seasons with the emergence of brands like Ozempic and Mounjaros. In my opinion, “body positivity” is the wrong term. ‘Bodily inclusion’ is more precise. Feeling positive about your own body is subjective. Inclusion in the fashion conversation and having the size available in stores is a necessity.

What does size inclusion mean? Can you define it?

Inclusivity means being included, having sizes available, being part of the fashion conversation, feeling like you belong through editorial, size availability, and promoting people who look like you.

It’s strange that most women are medium size (between UK size 10 and 16) but are often ignored by fashion. What do you think?

You’re absolutely right. It’s an all or nothing vibe in the fashion world, and only a few represent the mid-size category. Jilla Tequila is a perfect example of mid-sized beauty.

Who have been your supporters and how important is it to have that support group?

The media in our region has been incredibly supportive. The women who buy Dima Ayad’s creations, as well as my closest friends and family, have played an important role. I appreciate all the support as it has helped me advance in the fashion industry.

Who are the designers you admire and why?

There are a few and each one has a unique reason. I’ll start with Alber Elbaz from Lanvin, who made me fall in love with fashion and who believed in diversity from the beginning. He always advocated for varied shapes, sizes and age groups. His use of fabrics, the fluidity and fall of his iconic dresses are notable. Schiaparelli is another designer I admire for the artistic pieces he creates; He speaks a love language for fashion. Valentino, a fashion house that redefines haute couture while effortlessly creating glamorous and timeless daywear.

How did the Marina Rinaldi – Dima Ayad collaboration come about?

I have been a loyal customer of Marina Rinaldi for a long time. When I travel I always stop at her stores and on many occasions I proposed to the manager of the London store that we collaborate. We share many common clients. It started as a passing conversation until I got the call to collaborate. At first I didn’t take it seriously.

Tell us more about the Marina Rinaldi – Dima Ayad collection. Can you explain some of the pieces to us?

There are seven silhouettes that have been created. I have created a suit in two colors, black and fuchsia, adorned with crystals. It has always been a dream of mine to have a night jacket in my size. It is a timeless piece that is sure to remain in the women’s wardrobe for a long time. There’s also a gold woven caftan, a must-have festive piece. An emerald green and black embellished caftan in Dima Ayad’s signature silhouette, which we feature each season, is extremely flattering. We have also incorporated pleats, but in the Dima Ayad style. Purple is my favorite color and amethyst is my birthstone, so be careful how we’ve played with purple.

You collaborated with shoe designer Malone Souliers. For a regional designer, how does it help to work with international brands?

It was an incredible experience since I had never worked with shoes before. Collaborating with them has given the regional designer global exposure.

Do you think Arab designers are getting the attention they deserve, especially when it comes to contemporary clothing?

This is definitely a work in progress and we need more attention to this category in fashion in our region.

What is your goal for your label?

We are currently adding more seasons to our collections and working to expand our reach with additional brick-and-mortar stores and a stronger online presence. My dream is to dress as many diverse body types as possible and be available in department store concessions around the world.

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