Want to wear what Hollywood stars flaunt on the red carpet? Kate Dobinson speaks to Designer-24.com co-founders Sara Alemzadeh and Ranya Khalil to find out how you can buy into the lifestyle…
Designer-24.com is the first online dress hire service in the UAE to make luxury fashion accessible. The company was launched in June 2014 by co-founders Sara Alemzadeh and Ranya Khalil.
It aims to economise luxury fashion by offering the latest runway trends for rental.
Understanding the region’s love for luxury fashion and heavy events calendar, creating Designer-24 seemed like a natural move for the co-founders, whose backgrounds are in investment banking and marketing.
The collections include high-end contemporary designers as well as some of the most famous names in eveningwear and couture (such as Derek Lam, Emanuel Ungaro and Marchesa) to hire for as little as Dhs200 a night. For 2015, the company introduced a two-day rental option that works out 30 percent cheaper than the customer renting a dress for 24 hours. Sara tells us why business is booming…
How did you translate your experience as an investment banker and oil trader to the fashion industry?
Investment banking was about hard work and discipline – it taught me to be extremely detail-orientated. Oil trading was really fun and exciting. Every day was different. Big news would hit the markets overnight and we had to adapt quickly. I learnt that you will never have all the answers, but you have to drive the car to learn the lay of the land.
Which women inspire you in life and business, and why?
Sheryl Sandberg (chief operating officer of Facebook) . She’s so honest and accomplished. She values work and family and is testament that women can do both successfully.
How did you go about getting the designers on board? Was it tough to convince them?
We spent a year travelling to New York, Paris, London, Beirut, all the key fashion centres, pitching our vision to designers. The key was our branding and positioning in the market. We understood that we needed our image to be high-end fashion, both for the designers and the customers to be excited about it. We emphasised that we would be introducing these brands to women who would then become customers for life. This is exactly what happened. For example, we introduced Greta Constantine, a relatively unknown Canadian label, to the region. Now some of the biggest influencers are buying their dresses.
What are your favourite go-to wardrobe items and what’s a standard outfit for you?
We love to mix and match. One day, you’ll find me in stiletto pumps with a high-waisted skirt; the next day you’ll find me in overalls, a crop top and Superga sneakers. Fashion is fun, you have to keep people guessing.
What is your favourite dress on your site?
We are about to add some really exciting vintage designer pieces that women will die for. Stay tuned!
Who are your fashion icons?
We’ve always loved Jessica Biel’s style – both elegant and sporty. Recently we also loving Amal Alamuddin, she manages to mix playful and professional perfectly.
What do you both wear to feel confident at work?
We tend to wear knee-length flowy dresses as they’re comfortable and cute, perfect for keeping our creative juices flowing when it comes to the business.
What has been the hardest aspect of setting up your own business so far?
Starting a business involves a lot of emotional strength. That’s why it’s great to start one with a partner. You become each other’s cheerleaders for motivation.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I love to work out, hang out with friends and travel. Right now I’ve been spending a lot of time boxing, it keeps me focused and energised.
Rent straight from the runway and visit www.designer-24.com.