Adidas teams up with Dubai henna artist Dr Azra for unique trainer designs

Sportswear brand follows up Ravi Restaurant collaboration with new display at flagship store

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Adidas is continuing its appreciation of UAE culture by launching another Dubai collaboration, this time with henna artist Azra Khamissa.

Just weeks after their famed collaboration with Ravi Restaurant, the sportswear brand is linking up with Dr Azra, as she is known to her 150,000 Instagram followers.

Khamissa has taken her henna art to the world of trainers, decorating three pairs of adidas shoes for a display at the brand’s flagship store at The Dubai Mall.

“Adidas reached out to me and presented the concept of designing henna on shoes,” says Khamissa, who has inspired a new generation of henna lovers thanks to her unique take on the traditional practice.

“They were very happy to let me do whatever I thought was beautiful.”

Khamissa spent several weeks perfecting her designs, something she said proved a little more challenging than she had initially anticipated.

“I was experimenting with different types of henna, seeing how it would work on leather, seeing how it would stain, there was a lot of research,” she says. “It was challenging, as when the henna is really thick it would peel. The white leather would stain immediately so there was no room for error at all. But it was great fun to work with the architecture of the shoe.”

The shoes are currently for display purposes only and not available to purchase. However, the collaboration has been garnering a lot of attention.

“Many people have voiced that they are very interested in purchasing them, so you never know,” Khamissa says.

Khamissa, who is a chiropractor by day, started doing henna as an experimental pastime. After she posted a picture of her decorated hands on Instagram several years ago, Khamissa saw her innovative designs light a spark among her followers.

As well as putting her own spin on traditional ­motifs such as the rawayeb (henna on the tips of the fingers) and rubeya (a circle on the flat of the palm), her hands have been covered with leopard print; she has traced the phases of the Moon from her wrist to the tip of her middle finger; and even used her palms as a canvas to take a stand.

And, her collaboration with adidas is not the first time her work has been tapped by international brands. Earlier this year, she collaborated with Les Benjamins and created a bespoke collection.

“It’s been great to be able to do so many different things using henna as the base,” she says. “And, it’s been really interesting to take henna into the world of sneakers.

“Sneaker culture is huge, there’s been so much buzz. I didn’t really expect this kind of reaction when working with sneakers, but it’s really cool to see the hype and excitement that comes with sneaker culture, and it’s really interesting to be able to take henna into that world in a new way,” she says.

The collaboration is part of adidas’s commitment to use its flagship Dubai store to offer a platform for local creatives. It comes a month after its hugely successful limited-edition adidas x Ravi Restaurant trainers, which saw shoppers queueing at 4am to get their hands on pair.

The trainers sold out within hours, and soon appeared on resale sites, on offer for as much as Dh44,000.

The brand chose 11 restaurants in 11 cities as part of its “adilicious” campaign, each selected for the unique contribution made in creating and bonding a local community.

“My family has worked so hard to bring Ravi to where it is now, it has become more than just a restaurant with staff and customers, it has become a home that many grew up with," said Ravi's founder Chaudary Abdul Hameed.

"To say that Ravi had a humble beginning and is now representing Dubai as a key city with adidas is a milestone to celebrate.”

See the adidas x Ravi Restaurant trainers collaboration

Updated: July 22, 2022, 7:52 AM