s*uce: Funky fashion
Rushika Bhatia
Business Pinup

s*uce: Funky fashion

We look at dynamic companies and entrepreneurs in the region, what makes them tick, and the buzz on their business.

s*uce: Funky fashion

In a nutshell

Name: Zayan Ghandour

Designation: Co-owner, Creative Director and Head Buyer

Company: s*uce

Industry: Retail

Date it was founded: February 2004

Number of employees: 25 – 50

Location: Dubai, UAE

s*uce is a fashion and lifestyle concept founded in 2004 by three young ladies living in Dubai. Zayan Ghandour, Fatima Ghobash and Dina Saleh realised there was a niche that needed to be filled in the UAE fashion market. The concept of s*uce grew out of a desire to fill that niche with everything that was fashion forward including clothes, accessories, lifestyle, and all aspects of glamour and design in general.

s*uce now has five locations in the UAE offering a curated mix of unique pieces by up-and-coming designers, limited edition collections from contemporary international brands and diffusion lines, as well as quirky lifestyle items and home interior accessories.

Zayan Ghandour, Co-Owner, Creative Director and Head Buyer, gives us more insight into this unique boutique business.

What is innovative about your approach and what sets you apart from your competitors?

First and foremost, we ensure that everything you find at s*uce is special and unique. We are not a cookie cutter retailer and don’t believe in cookie cutter fashion.  That is why we view our collections as curated. Every single item in store is handpicked and customised with our customer in mind. We travel to as many trade shows as possible, always on the lookout for the next big thing, or the coolest as-yet undiscovered designer.

s*uce embarks on a series of annual initiatives that truly differentiate it from any other homegrown brands in the region. In September 2009, s*uce launched the Stars in Our Eyes shopathon: an annual platform for local and regional s*uce designers to launch their new collections. The shopathon takes place annually at s*uce boutique in The Village Mall, Dubai.

We also launched the DesignaDress in order to give a greater number of people a chance to achieve designer stardom. Each year, s*uce sets guidelines in line with autumn/winter trends and everyone is encouraged to apply. The winning designer gets sponsorship from s*uce and a chance to create an exclusive first collection retailed at the boutique.

s*uce: Funky fashion

s*uce collaborates with local and international artists every March to coincide with Art Dubai, selling original artwork by French graffiti artist, Fafi in 2008, and commissioning multimedia collagework by local artist Lema Alireza in 2009. We also curated an installation by Boston based assemblage artist Polly Becker for the Bastakiya Art Fair in March 2010.

In March 2011 s*uce’s SugarVintage designer, Leila Al Marashi, created her first artworks, exhibiting the 12 pieces at s*uce for two weeks, before moving the exhibition to The Pavilion, Downtown Dubai. The pieces garnered a lot of attention and Leila has acquired a bit of a cult following with her iconic tongue-in-cheek twists.

Not only does s*uce support brands that benefit local charities, such as Chamaille and Braveheart, but it also holds a dedicated breast cancer awareness campaign every October. Every year s*uce designs and produces a special item, which is adorned with Swarovski crystals and sold in store. All proceeds go to local charity Friends of Cancer Patients.

For 2011 we have tied up with Harper’s Bazaar International and Browns as the exclusive retailer of their designer charity t shirts.

s*uce: Funky fashion

Harpers International & Browns Fashion asked six designers (Donatella Versace, Angela Missoni, Veronica Etro, Frida Giannini forGucci, Alberta Ferretti and Rossella Jardini for Moschino) to design t shirts to be sold in aid of Women for Women International.

s*uce also recently launched a community art campaign, the s*uce benches project www.sauceloves.com/benches,  where we asked designers and artists to customise standard benches which were on display at Art Dubai and around the city. The initiative was extremely well received, and we realised we aren’t the only people who love benches! Our aim is to increase the use, appreciation and number of benches in the city. We are currently launching a phase two with Etihad airways which will take the campaign internationally.

What is s*uce gifts at XVA?

In March 2008, s*uce launched a new concept store, “s*uce gifts at XVA”, in one of the most fascinating and charming districts of old Dubai: Bastakiya. The new gift store concept focuses on quirky gift items and local and regional designers with a s*ucy twist.

What is your trademark problem-solving style?

Over the past six years s*uce has consistently placed the greatest emphasis on experience driven retail. As a small business, there was no budget allocated for traditional print advertising and so the marketing strategy had to rely on word of mouth, creative PR activities and creating the most rewarding multi-sensory shopping experience.