emerging designer

Today’s conversation is with Jordanian designer, Zainab Kisswani, founder of Amman based Ready-to-Wear brand Xia.Kisswani shares with Social Unseen the idea behind the brand and how she perceives the fashion industry in a regional and global perspective.

xia the brand

SU:    Hi Zainab, thank you for accepting our interview

SU:    How did you have the idea to create Xia? 

ZK:    I wanted to create an affordable and accessible ready-to-wear Arab brand. Think high-street, but Arab. I wanted the brand to feel luxurious in its aesthetic, quality and choice of fabrics, but I was adamant about not translating ‘luxury’ into my pricing. I wanted to help the modern Arab woman find versatile pieces which can be styled in different ways. This was done with the help of ILNA Collective – who helped curate and conceptualise XIA. 

SU:   What is the meaning of Xia? (pronounced Ze-ya) 

ZK:    XIA means source of light/ radiance. It is something that shines brilliantly and lights up the area around it. 

SU:   How do you think can a brand become successful in the region? 

ZK:    Constructive criticism is essential, so I would say – listen to your critics. Hear what they have to say. Use criticism to advance your brand. Stay focused and listen to emerging voices. 

I am also inspired by the work of local artisans. I love the human touch, the imperfections, as well as the unpredictability. Each XIA piece is currently handmade in Amman, Jordan.

SU:    What inspires your designs?

ZK:    Each XIA drop revolves around a particular theme. Our first drop 111. XIA DROP ONE. was inspired by nature and particularly the movements of ocean water: waves, tides and ocean currents. 

I started designing the first drop pre-COVID19 lockdown and wanted to shed light on Jordan being among the world’s most water-poor nations, but yet constantly being able to rebound from it, highlighting the country’s resilience each and every time. This is seen in the silhouettes of the garments, particularly in their fluidity, versatility and their strong demure.

I am also inspired by the work of local artisans. I love the human touch, the imperfections, as well as the unpredictability. Each XIA piece is currently handmade in Amman, Jordan. For example, our embroidered Nadz top was created in house. From its sketch, to its embroidery to its embellishments – everything was produced by our talented team.

SU:     Do you think sustainability has become a must in fashion?

ZK:    I believe most brands are able to implement and accommodate for sustainable strategies, particularly in their supply chain. So, we all have to do our part in protecting the environment and the planet we are all sharing. There’s this misconception that sustainability is just about something that’s ‘material’ – it’s not, its also about your operations. So start small, and grow big.

xia the brand

SU:    What do you think of having influencers advertising your creations? Are you planning to have some? 

ZK:    Why not? I am particularly inspired by the new generation of micro influencers – I say, the smaller the better. I appreciate individuals who stand out in their own right. Their individualism and uniqueness is inspiring, which is what XIA is all about. 

SU:    What about selling online? Do you have any platform or are you planning to?

ZK:     Yes, we are currently working on setting our online store which we hope would be launching in time for our winter drop. 

Xia the new brand

I appreciate individuals who stand out in their own right. Their individualism and uniqueness is inspiring, which is what XIA is all about. 

arab emerging designer

SU:    Can you name three of your favorite contemporary designers?

ZK:    There are so many I can name. Thinking regionally and internationally, I would say, Roni Helou, the new Bottega and The Attico.

SU:    How do you perceive the woman who wears Xia? 

ZK:    The XIA woman is one who constantly challenges preconceived stereotypes and notions of women in the Arab world. You can be dressed in XIA at work, yet be able to go to social gatherings in the same outfit, whether it be to a restaurant, club, etc… I wanted my pieces to be versatile aiming to compliment a woman’s professional and social life.

As I’ve mentioned above, XIA means source of light/ radiance. It is something that shines brilliantly and lightens up the area around it. This is what the XIA woman is all about. She is unique, strong and powerful. All these components make her shine and she is bound to light up the area around her.

SU:    What are the mistakes you think a fashion designer shouldn’t do when starting a brand

ZK:    Not investing in a long term PR and marketing strategy. 

SU:    Do you sell in the whole region or only in Amman?

ZK:    Physically, in Amman only – but we do ship internationally as well. Contact us via Instagram as we await the launch of our online store, and we will be able to sort your order out!

Photographer: Zaid Allozi
Art direction: ILNA Collective & Zaid Allozi 
Styling: ILNA Collective & Leen Ramini
Model: Aliya Boshnak
Makeup artist: Nour Alsalem

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