DIY fashion in Dubai

Distress your own denim and design your own shoes right here in Dubai

Distress your own denim shorts

Over-distressed denim is just plain distressing, but perfect raggedy shorts are something to behold. To create your own at home, find a pair of old jeans – try light denim that isn’t super-tight (you don’t want to create a bulging effect). Measure the length you want your shorts to be, add a couple of inches (for the turn-up), then cut off the legs. For a ‘dirty’ look, soak overnight in a bucket of water containing two cups of coffee grounds. To distress, put the shorts on a surface you don’t mind scratching, pick a patch where you want a slight hole (choose areas where holes develop naturally), and rub the fabric with sandpaper for light wear or a cheese grater for rips – we recommend the parmesan setting. Then take a steak knife and rub it against the bottom of the cuff to create a fray. If they don’t fray easily, put a needle through the thread at the seam to bring it loose. Fold the hem up once, letting the frayed edge hang out (like Lily Donaldson, left), and sew a couple of stitches by the natural seam to keep them cuffed.

Move over Christian Louboutin

Aussie site Shoes of Prey is one of our favourite fashion portals – a few clicks and voilà, your perfect heel, ballet pump or boot is born. There’s a range of premium materials on offer, including calfskin, fishskin and silk. The site also caters for narrow or wide feet through the excellent customer service, yet it’s still affordable.
Dhs600-Dhs1,000; shipping to the UAE via DHL is Dhs90.

Be a sneaker designer

If you’re one of those people who struggles to choose what to have for breakfast, sitting at the Creative Factory station in Puma’s Dubai Mall store, tasked with designing your own sneakers, will be more challenging than you expect. Yet finally having the chance to create the high-tops you’ve always wanted is also mighty fun.

The process takes around 30 minutes, possibly longer, depending on the amount of time you’re likely to spend pondering over what colour eyeholes to go for. We were impressed by the number of options available – metallics, bright suede, snakeskin-effect leather and even shiny tartan – as we turned the digital sneaker around, surveying every angle on the Creative Factory iPad. Staff at Puma are willing to help out, give suggestions – ‘Don’t make it too plain,’ one snorted when we first opted for a monochrome look – and will show you swatches of each fabric as you choose it. We eventually opted for fuchsia suede, with flashes of bright yellow.

Once you’ve nailed your design, it takes about three weeks for the sneakers to be custom-made and delivered. The wait may be agonising for sneaker freakers, but the day your new kicks arrive will be better than Christmas.
Puma’s Creative Factory is Dhs499 for a regular shoe, Dhs599 for a mid-cut high-top. Puma, The Dubai Mall (04 434 0204)

Learn more about fashion design

Prestigious fashion institute The London College of Fashion is heading to Dubai at the end of May to host courses at the Pullman Hotel, MOE. Want to learn more? Here’s a rundown…

Essentials of the fashion industry
Learn about the business side of fashion, from supply chains to how trends are developed.
Dhs2,990. 9.30am-4pm, May 13-14

Principles of fashion styling
This course will teach how to select, buy and design womenswear. You’ll learn about combining colours, styling tricks and working with clients.
Dhs5,100. 9.30am-4pm, May 24-27

Fashion design
A run-through with designer Richard Sorger: think mood boards, colour selection, knowing your market, figure-drawing and fabric awareness.
Dhs5,100. 9.30am-4pm. May 20-23

There are 11 more courses on offer. Find out more and sign up at

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