Saudi brand Leem becomes first regional designer to join

The move marks a new era for the brand, the region and modestwear at large

Founded in Saudi Arabia in 2018, Leem is known for its contemporary modestwear. Photo: Leem
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Middle Eastern modestwear brand Leem has become the first regional name to be stocked on, the online portal of famed London department store Selfridges.

As the first brand from the region to become part of the store's world-class fashion offering, this is a big moment not only for the label, but also for regional designers and modestwear.

Founded in Saudi Arabia in 2018, Leem is known for its contemporary modestwear, which translates into breezy separates, dresses, kaftans and bisht. Seen through a contemporary lens, this arrives as fluid tops, palazzo trousers and dresses in flattering plisse pleating. There is ombre colouring, geometric patterning and, best of all, well cut-dresses that could backbone even the snappiest of wardrobes, with pieces priced between $99 and $250.

Cut with the demands of modern life in mind, Leem's pieces offer full coverage, yet never overwhelm thanks to small but important details such as dresses offered in two lengths, and the addition of tight cuffs to many sleeves.

While this may sound trivial, in reality it offers the freedom to embrace voluminous sleeves without worrying about dipping them in your coffee, and gives women the freedom to style a shorter dress with trousers or boots for a fresh take. As with all things design related, it is these details that speak volumes, with clothes made for purpose and with busy women in mind, without losing their light and fashionable feel.

More updates on staples include adding a cowl neck to kaftans, creating sweatshirt-like dresses that pair well with trainers, and giving batwing dresses a 1980s swoosh of silvery sequins down one arm, ideal for a night out with friends. There is even a rhinestone-studded high-neck knitted dress that would be right at home in Paris and Milan.

A black, polo-neck intarsia dress with white clouds gathered across the torso, meanwhile, is chic and wearable, while a ribbed white caped shawl offers an edgy alternative to cold weather dressing. High-waisted trousers in high-shine silver add a blast of on-trend bling.

The trick to bringing modestwear to a new audience lies in creating interesting, wearable pieces that just happen to be modest, which Leem has proved it can do on repeat.

Now, as it goes global, Leem is bringing its designs to a wider audience. For the winter season, it is doubling down on the notion of comfort dressing with soft knits such as waffle-knitted jogging bottoms and cable-knit cardigans, while nodding to its heritage via some farwa coats, either quilted or in shearling.

For those not familiar with the traditional Saudi coat, the farwa is worn long and oversized, and is possibly the cosiest, most snuggle-inducing top layer this writer has encountered, so having new versions available online is a boon.

Speaking of the announcement, Miles Young, managing director of Al Hala Group, Leem’s parent company said: "We were thrilled to be expanding Leem's presence internationally ... Selfridges is the perfect platform to showcase our unique aesthetic."

Established in 1909, Selfridges holds a beloved place in the London mindset. Adored by Brits and tourists alike, it is a must-see for all those who visit the capital for its vaulted halls and astonishing choice.

That same array is now available online alongside new digital-only additions, of which Leem is one. A savvy move, it allows smaller brands to partner with the department store without having to commit to brutal production schedules and having physical stock tied up on the retail shop floor, while opening the door to a new, global market.

Updated: December 18, 2023, 11:50 AM