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Fanilla Couture

Razan Suliman is a Qatari fashion designer, whose brand Fanilla Couture left a notable impact through Arabia-themed t-shirts. Fanilla Couture has just introduced its Ramadan collection, so we’ve sat down with Razan to chat about

Razan Suliman is a Qatari fashion designer, whose brand Fanilla Couture left a notable impact through Arabia-themed t-shirts. Fanilla Couture has just introduced its Ramadan collection, so we’ve sat down with Razan to chat about her brand, inspiration and future hopes.

What made you start Fanilla Couture?
I originally studied information technology, but I always had a flare for fashion and drawing since I was very young. After my graduation, I began to work in web development where I trained myself to have an eye for detail and appreciate how the look of a website can really make it stand out from the crowd. I started to be interested in graphic design and began teaching myself of all its steps through online tutorials. I loved it so much that one day I considered a complete career shift; I took graphic design courses later to take my passion to another level.

First thing I designed was my own website Razan Graphics which yielded huge appeal straight off the launch. I continued teaching myself and working on my own to further enrich my graphic design skills, I then began to work on a freelance basis where my work included corporate identity, logos, wedding invitations, website designs and advertising designs. However, I always had this dream of having my own business and building my very own brand, which I eventually founded in 2011. Since then my label has enjoyed a positive response in Doha market as well as across the entire Gulf.

As for the name, Fanilla means a t-shirt in Arabic and its origin is Italian. I loved the word, while the word Couture means manufacturing and designing of fashionable clothes, so that’s how I decided on my fashion label name Fanilla Couture.

Your brand focuses on reintroducing Arab culture into clothing, what made you decide to do that through t-shirts?
My goal is to personify Arabic pop culture and fashion iconography in a trendy matchless design where my philosophy is to preserve the Arabic culture with a hint of fashion. I design for people who want to preserve their Arabic rich Gulf culture yet look fashionable and trendy. My profound love for Arabic culture and fashion plays a pivotal role in being my main source of inspiration. I utilise various cultural elements in my collections which results in a very positive feedback.

The reason I started with t-shirts was because I believe that a person can be casual and elegant at the same time. Since t-shirts are inevitable items of everyone’s closet, I thought introducing that to the market would be something both comfortable and chic.

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What is the most memorable experience and joyful experience you’ve had since you’ve started Fanilla Couture?
The entire journey is thrilling; seeing people wearing my work makes me forget all the hassle and the challenges I went through. For me seeing people wearing my brand is not the only thing that makes me happy but also the love I see from my fans to Fanilla Couture is indescribable. If you check my Instagram account, you will find that half of my posts are sent from my followers showing me their pics wearing Fanilla Couture. It makes me feel they appreciate wearing it and are becoming loyal to the brand. I guess everything is distinctive about Fanilla Couture where every t-shirt has a story behind it. The way I mix the different cultural elements, my vivid colours’ choice and the high quality t-shirts I choose; all combined makes my brand stand out. People tell me they love my out of the box ideas and fresh designs. I only wish that Fanilla Couture continues to be perceived as a unique fashion statement label and hope that I can present unexpected designs in every new collection.

Your Ramadan collection shifts away from t-shirts, how different was the work process for this collection?
It was not different. I go through the steps regardless of what I design. In my new collection there are two kinds of designs; some are a bit cluttered and others are clean, neat and simple. The clean ones are inspired by the Arabic black and white fabric tent. Seeing the tent, I thought about different vintage items, the Arabic gatherings that brought a lovely old song to my mind, which meant, “if you visit me today, please come back and visit me one more time.”

I chose mother and daughter because it was a learning experience for me from the National Day, when I introduced the collection for the young girls. It was very cute how a mother was keen to match her outfit with her daughter’s. I thought they would enjoy it even more during Ramadan visits and family gatherings. I found it to be sensual and emotional. The key element to my success is to make people happy wearing the brand.

How do you spend the month of Ramadan?
The best things about Ramadan are the family gatherings, reading Quran and praying.

What would you advise to those who have just started out or are about to?
Never give up, no matter how many times you fall, because the moment you give up you will lose all the effort you put. If you keep pushing and try harder, you will just reap up the fruit of all the hard work.

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What is the item you cannot leave your house without?
My Abaya.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?
It is ok to be frustrated and to be down sometimes. As long as you stand up tomorrow and start again. It is normal to get bogged down, but it gets dangerous only if we give into the negative energy.

That is my favorite quote about success; “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” ― Maya Angelou.

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