Qatari designer and entrepreneur Ghada Al Subaey founded her 1309 brand six years ago with one thing in mind: giving back to her community. Women empowerment is always at the core of everything the designer does, namely her reinvented abaya collections, which she created to challenge the one-faceted stereotypes of Qatari women.
Inspired by her home country, Al Subaey creates minimalist pieces and clean silhouettes, yet with an edgy and contemporary bohemian take. From embroidered mini crescent moons and palm trees adorning velvety fluid abayas to wrap-around two-tone pieces with fringe detailing, 1309 gives women seasonless and versatile products for everyday comfort.
And it’s not just abayas. The brand has recently collaborated with Jordanian designer Nafsika Skourti on a ready-to-wear post-lockdown collection. Inspired by a nostalgia for travel, the pieces ooze fluidity and transparency, drenched in kaleidoscopic colours and prints. Radiant sun motifs on black denim, ombre sunset tones and dreamy plane window print on pure silk, 1309 does it all.
Almost every product comes in sustainable materials, including vegan linen and cupro (a vegan silk which is a natural by-product of the cotton industry). To reduce the brand’s carbon footprint even further, the packaging is also biodegradable, compostable, and environmentally-friendly.
A true feminist, Al Subaey went beyond design to create the ‘1309 Community,’ a platform on Instagram for women to come together, empower each other and seek support from like-minded people. Between digital forums, talks and in-person gatherings, women are invited to discuss female-focused issues, as well as take part in meditation classes.
She also launched The Cutting Studio initiative with the support of Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa to provide support, mentorship and resources for aspiring local designers. A brilliant opportunity for young talents to develop their work and benefit from industrial facilities to produce their collections.