“I want to wear the whole galaxy on my jalabiya,” seven- year-old Hanan said to Salma, as her eyes shone like sequins. She had just learnt that the UAE’s Hope Probe had successfully been launched in orbit around Mars, a feat the country achieved in February 2021. “I was so delighted at her response and interest in the Emirates Mars Mission that I decided to create a design for her myself. It’s called ‘Mesbar Al Amal’ and is named after the mission (Al-Amal Probe),” says Salma Al Hussaini, aunty to Hanan and the founder of artisanal luxury fashion brand Wajd.
As the Hope Probe began its orbit in outer space, it paved the way for the launch of a special label here on Earth. “I decided to not only design the ‘Mesbar Al Amal’ piece for my niece but also for other children, encouraging them to learn more about the UAE’s milestone in a fun and artful way. That’s how Wajd was born,” shares Salma, whose work offers scintillating insight into young entrepreneurship among the Emirati community.
When you’re offering artisanal work, you’re feeding a family. You’re helping a man provide for his loved ones and that’s priceless.
“Wajd means ‘ecstasy’ in Sufism and literally translates to creating something from nothing – that’s what the brand means to me,” explains Salma. Prioritizing slow sustainable fashion, the label offers childrenswear for girls aged between 1 and 14, as well as reusable canvas pouches. The brand has recently ventured into adult-wear with the launch of its first ‘Mommy and Me’ line.
“I decided to launch a ‘Mommy and Me’ collection after receiving several requests from my clients for outfits they could match with their children,” Salma notes. “Creating an adult clothing line has helped me diversify and offered me a closer look at the intricacies of womenswear and my audience’s preferences. The response has been phenomenal, and it brings me so much joy to see mothers and daughters in matching Wajd outfits.”
‘Milkyway Sprinkles’ in Blush Pink from the ‘Sky’s The Limit’ collection
Wajd has rolled out two collections so far, with the first, ‘Sky’s The Limit’, launched ahead of Emirati Women’s Day 2021, encouraging young girls to aim for the stars. “Among the highlights of the line is the ‘Stargaze Vinyl Arabia’ design, which reimagines the traditional Arabic kandura. Then, there’s ‘Hekmat’s Eye’, which features the eye of wisdom that’s part of mystical iconography, taking a cue from the brand’s Sufi-inspired narrative.”
At the core of the brand is the aim of celebrating the work of artisans, who spend up to 20 hours to craft each piece by hand. All the fabrics are sourced from India and the pieces are created using eco-friendly dyes and biodegradable materials like linen. The fact that each outfit is handmade means that no two pieces are identical, as opposed to machine-embroidered creations. “When you’re offering artisanal work, you’re feeding a family. You’re helping a man provide for his loved ones and that’s priceless,” notes Salma.
Salma Al Hussaini with the ‘Queen Bee’ design in Spring Mint and ‘The Garden’ design in Azalea Pink from the Wajd ‘Bloom – Mommy and Me’ collection
All Wajd orders are made on request, so there’s minimal textile waste. “We also ensure that client transactions are paperless and done virtually,” Salma explains, talking about how the brand currently accepts orders via Instagram’s Direct Messenger service. “I’d like to encourage people to rethink their relationship with clothes and do my bit to foster an industry that benefits both people and the planet,” she adds. “In a fast-moving world, earthy fabrics like linen and natural colourways ground us – they bring us back to our roots and offer a sense of belonging, which I want to pass on to the women and children who wear Wajd designs.”
Speaking of eco-friendliness, Wajd’s ‘Bloom – Mommy and Me’ collection was unveiled alongside Expo 2020 Dubai as a tribute to the event, which is one of the most promising and sustainable World Expos ever to have taken place. “The ‘Bloom’ line celebrates how the UAE and its people continue to blossom in every situation and rise against all odds,” says Salma. She shares that she intentionally chose ‘Bloom’ as the name of the collection that was launched in the Fall/ Winter season, as it relays the message that women and children’s ability to blossom knows no bounds.
I’ve incorporated daisy, lavender and hydrangea motifs into the pieces to reflect that there’s beauty in diversity.
The line features two main designs, ‘The Garden’, in the colours Daisy White and Azalea Pink, and ‘Queen Bee’, available in the shades Lavender and Spring Mint. ‘The Garden’ includes a verdant natural landscape, with a stem stitch design featuring blooms with bumblebees sitting atop, whilst ‘Queen Bee’ includes bumblebee and floral designs. “I’ve incorporated daisy, lavender and hydrangea motifs into the pieces to reflect that there’s beauty in diversity,” she notes. On popular demand, the brand’s classic designs, ‘Milkyway Sprinkles’, ‘Hekmat’s Eye’ and ‘Mesbar-Al-Amal’ are now available for adults. Also introduced for the first time are shaylas for women in ‘Milkyway Sprinkles’ and a floral-inspired ‘Daisy’ design.
With Wajd, Salma aims at filling the gap in the local retail market for innovative childrenswear brands. “There are several options of either cartoon-inspired designs or simply adult-wear transformed into miniature versions, but it’s hardly done the other way around,” she states. “That’s where Wajd comes in – it prioritizes creating an immersive experience for the buyer and promises comfort and luxury to them and their children. It’s important for me to portray these values through the brand.”
Wajd ‘Hekmat’s Eye’ jalabiya in Sunshine Yellow
Wajd pieces are infused with the brand’s signature bukhoor before being hand-delivered in a branded dust-proof bag, with a special colouring paper for children that’s made using recycled material. The idea is to evoke all the senses and tell a story. “As an Emirati woman, I have a first-hand understanding of the local audience’s palate and Arab women’s sartorial preferences. The designs are deeply informed by my love of art, which also makes them special,” shares Salma, who also takes a cue from the cultures she has been exposed to and the places she visits.
“I decided to not only design the ‘Mesbar Al Amal’ piece for my niece but also for other children, encouraging them to learn more about the UAE’s milestone in a fun and artful way. That’s how Wajd was born.”
The brand launched a special-edition piece for the UAE National Day last year, and is currently working on collections for Mother’s Day and Ramadan 2022. “I depicted the colours of the UAE flag in the National Day piece, which was available for both adults and children. It was a small way of expressing my love for my country and community,” Salma reveals.
“We also plan on launching our website soon to offer buyers a well-rounded e-commerce experience. I’m also evaluating options for stockists and physical exhibitions across the UAE and other Gulf countries that Wajd ships to, including Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait.” Thus, Salma continues to spread joy among women and children who love gifting and being gifted Wajd pieces. And we have little Hanan to thank for this too.
Images courtesy of Wajd; Cover image: Salma Al Hussaini pictured with the ‘Queen Bee’ design in Spring Mint and ‘The Garden’ design in Azalea Pink from the Wajd ‘Bloom – Mommy and Me’ collection. Follow @WajdDubai on Instagram.