Khaleeji designer Fatima Bastaki wants to bring modest fashion to the Oscars

Khaleeji designer Fatima Bastaki wants to bring modest fashion to the Oscars

Khaleeji designer Fatima Bastaki wants to bring modest fashion to the Oscars
Bahraini designer Fatima Bastaki. Image: IFDC


Angelina Jolie in a modest-fashion outfit? Bahraini designer Fatima Bastaki could be the first to make it happen. She has big ambitions for her label, FAB, with some impressive goals to match.

“I’m a huge fan of Game of Thrones, so [I’d love to dress] Emilia Clarke for sure!” she says. And that’s just for starters; she also wants to see her designs on “Angelina Jolie, Halima Aden, and [appearing on the red carpet] at the Oscars.”

Described by Fatima as a brand that “offers fashionable, modest wear intended for all ages”, FAB focuses more on the couture experience than ready-to-wear items. “Modest fashion can be fun and exciting,” she says, “and one of my goals is to change the public’s perception of it.”

Launched in 2015 as a store in Riffa, the brand sells largely though Fatima’s Instagram account @fabbyfatma, which has amassed approximately 37,000 followers so far. “Clients can book appointments to design their perfect dress. The aim is for each customer to have her own couture experience, [but] we always have our ready-to-wear collection at our shop and online.”

At 44 years of age, Fatima is proof that it’s never too late to study new things or pursue new dreams. After obtaining her degree in accounting, Fatima went on to work in her field of study. But for her, something was always missing.

“It’s never too late to start,” she says. “I studied accounting in university, but it never felt like it was the right fit for me as my interests have always been in fabrics and fashion. I considered fashion as more of a hobby than anything else, and it was just something I did in my free time. I designed simple dresses and taught myself how to make them.”

It was only three years ago that she decided to “take the risk” of opening her store and pursue her real passion. She describes FAB as “part of myself” and is currently studying fashion design alongside her full-time business.

“Since [launching], my social media presence, in addition to the experience I gained through the years, have really allowed me to grow as a designer and I am excited to see what the future brings.”

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Asked about which markets she’s targeting, Fatima says that “all the markets” are important to her. “I enjoy meeting new people from all over the world and their support is always appreciated.”

At present, most of FAB’s customers come from the Gulf, mostly from Bahrain, Kuwait, the UAE and Oman, but the designer was bemused by the interest from two particular Western territories: “The US and UK have also, quite surprisingly, been a substantial market.”

Of course, no business is without its challenges, and Fatima admits that breaking into a couple other markets is proving particularly tough. “Turkey and Malaysia: it has been a challenge, as they have their own big fashion productions and designers.”

Another obstacle is sourcing proper materials. “Finding ethically-sourced fabric is difficult in Bahrain; it’s limited and when we order the prices are high. So we try to find other sources. We also [operate a] on no-waste fabric [policy], so that all our leftover [materials are] used on other projects.”

Now, following a recent appearance in Dubai for IFDC’s Pret A Cover Buyers Lane at the Retail Summit, Fatima is gearing up to launch a brand-new collection.

“The upcoming Spring collection focuses on the use of sustainable garments with an emphasis on versatility,” she says. “We want our clothes to be worn for all occasions. Light coral, royal blue, and white make up the colour palette of this latest collection.”

For Fatima, a global strategy means expanding FAB’s online presence, and she already has plans for that.

“A website is coming soon. My next goal is for FAB to be known as a global brand, and not just a local one. The main challenge here is to have an increased online presence, and I intend to take all the necessary steps to get where I want to be.”

(Writing by Rachel McArthur, editing by Seban Scaria

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