Providing budding Eastern designers with an international platform is Brands Just Pret, an online portal and multi-brand boutique in Dubai's Ibn Battuta Mall.
The big idea
For a small boutique, Brands Just Pret is thinking big. It doesn't house just one designer, but an entire catalogue of emerging and established subcontinental creatives including Hina Khan and Najma Zubair.
"We stock ready-to-wear and bridal outfits for ladies, in addition to jewellery and shoes," says the boutique's owner Hassah Hadi. "We work with a huge portfolio of designers, more than 50 in total."
Vast as the choice of labels may be, all of the ranges had to meet a strict criteria of wearability, versatility and affordability - before they even hit the shelves.
"We look at a couple of specific things when we choose a new designer, ranging from the types of palettes and colours they use to their cuts and fabrics," says Hadi. "With fabrics, for example, we advise them not to use many mixed ones like crepes and blended silks, but more solid materials like chiffon or georgette which are longer-lasting and less prone to staining and snagging."
The right price
A quick surf around the brand's online shop reveals apparel and accessories at refreshingly reasonable prices, ranging from Dh250 to around Dh1,000.
"It was a key part of our philosophy to keep the price point as low as possible for our clients," says Hadi. "Our guidelines are very clear - if the price tag exceeds Dh1,000 it should be something really extraordinary."
Hadi's clear vision trickled down to the designers and is prevalent on the racks of her boutique. A case in point are the chiffon, long shirts with batwing sleeves designed by Ayesha Somaya. They are elegant and understated in their appeal due to the measured use of metallic and thread embellishments adorning the hem.
"We don't encourage our designers to go beyond a certain price mark in terms of embroidery," says Hadi. "We make them aware that the more detail and work added to garments, the more pricey they become. And we would rather keep things more affordable in this current environment."
Whether you are in the market for a versatile kaftan or a show-stopping, full-length, bridal creation with kundan work, crystals and gold embroidered motifs, you'll find it here.
Ever popular, says Hadi, is the range of kameez or traditional Pakistani long shirts the boutique stocks, which range in price from Dh145 to Dh1,000.
"I've noticed that most of our clientele from Pakistan and India are buying these shirts as the styles of the two countries can be quite similar," she says. "We're also seeing ladies from the Middle East buying those designs along with our jellabiyas - especially for occasions like Eid."
More stores afoot
Having spotted a gap in the market last year and following two store openings in Karachi, Hadi turned her attention to the Middle East earlier this year.
"The concept of the store is still pretty new in Pakistan and we don't see many boutiques of this kind there yet," she says. "We're really proud to be a multi-brand store and quickly recognised Pakistan and the UAE as fashion hubs. And having successfully opened a boutique in Dubai, we're planning one for Abu Dhabi as well."
With Hadi's unique retail idea gaining traction at home and abroad, there's every chance she'll expand further still, beyond Asia and the Gulf.
After all, she excitedly reveals: "We've witnessed customers ordering items online from as far afield as Norway and the Netherlands."
Visit Brands Just Pret at Dubai's Ibn Battuta Mall or check out the latest designer collections at www.brandsjustpret.com