Opening the front door of bazaar, before me stands two super stylishly elegant women, fresh-faced and swathed in beautifully draped fabrics. Both outfits are a grey color but in totally opposite tones. Tasneem and Fatma are similar, yet utterly different. Immediately the yin and yang of the fashionable duo behind HIND is apparent.
The pair met a few years ago, when one was assigned the other’s desk at work. Despite this unorthodox start they evidently struck up a relatively close relationship because Tasneem, after broaching the subject of starting her own business with her husband, then went on to mull over with Fatma the idea of importing clothes from India. “Tasneem didn’t even propose that I partner with her, I just jumped at the chance.” says Fatma. “Yes, she did!” grins Tasneem, adding, “I didn’t even get to finish the sentence “I have an idea…” and she said, “I‘ll do it [with you]!”
Tasneem showed her new partner the brand that she was considering and immediately Fatma was eager to know how they could bring the line to Kuwait. The instant appeal to her aesthetic and the comradery of the two women gave Fatma every confidence in the project and thus HIND was founded. The elegant, modern designs are not immediately what one thinks of when it comes to the luxurious end of Indian clothes. There’s no metallic thread embellishment, nor diaphanous multi- layered chiffon here. It’s all silk, linen or cotton. “Old school,” as Tasneem describes it, “but it’s very much what young Indian designers are exploring nowadays.”
There can hardly be anything worthier than a fashion brand that invests in communities, and being sustainable or fair trade. HIND items sit at the higher end of mid-market but with good reason. Entire families and villages are supported by the income created through the labels presented by HIND. Some fabrics are commissioned and made from scratch working with weavers from around India, and therefore these vegetable-dyed organic textiles are only available to that designer whose collections are then personally selected and imported by the HIND duo. The HIND focus on quality has, almost incidentally, determined that their fashion is conscious. The close attention-to-detail on the superior items is in abundance with garments being hand dyed, buttons and embroidery completed by hand, or hems finished with a deliberately chosen feature color thread, and of course the pieces are limited in number too. There is no mass-production here.
Tasneem goes on to mention that the type of client that finds style solutions at HIND is also looking for the use of the clothes in their wardrobes to be broader. They want to be able to wear HIND items during the day and transition them to evening without any fuss. Quality, timeless pieces will naturally lend themselves to this utility. “There was an obvious gap in the market, and the brands we ended up getting are filling that gap,” says Fatma, her sentence being finished by Tasneem who then adds, “It’s affordable prêt [à-porter]!”
The timeless quality of these pieces is not only that you can wear them forever, but at any age and across all cultures; they are appropriate for both covered and non-covered women alike. Both Tasneem and Fatma are such completely different characters and yet they have established a brand that perfectly fits both of them and thus a wide spectrum of potential customers. “My mother has the same outfit as me, and so does Tasneem, so we have to check what we’re wearing before we go out,” laughs Fatma.
Actually, this isn’t quite necessary because HIND style, differently accessorized, is totally transformed. Particularly by the jewelry or footwear pieces that the eagle-eyed buyers have procured. There are wonderous accessories you can shop for at HIND to enhance your look. From hand-cut woven leather that seems like it should be adorning the glistening body of a skjaldmær to silk- tassel earrings and necklaces that would not be amiss if Scheherazade herself was playing with them whilst telling tales. Even though one imagines the HIND customer to be rather individualistic anyway, the brand has an offer across its collections that exhibits broad appeal with at least something for everyone to aspire to own. You won’t find repeated styles in different collections either, because that wouldn’t be fair to the designers either. Why create competition within your own brand house; this is not only fair, but keenly astute.
Hearing the word, “Hind” one may immediately think of the Arabic name but, like their products, this particular brand name is more nuanced than that. Hind is the old Arabic word for India and it is the short version of the ancient name Hindustan. To secure the business moniker they came up with HIND of Kuwait to stand out on the various platforms, success however now meaning that most people affectionately reference the label with the full title “HIND of Kuwait”.
The duo is determined to keep the business online for the moment; although not having a retail space doesn’t mean that they haven’t needed somewhere store the imported goods. The home of Fatma’s understanding father, where the talented artist keeps her studio, has been overrun as the HIND warehouse. To be honest the studio is now the warehouse. It is not hard to see how these two women must have charmed him to allow this, their amiable personalities belying a quiet strength that you can’t say “no” to. Nor would you want to as the business practices seem fair, the product choices viable and the way in which HIND operates faultless.
As they do not have a store yet, HIND further stands out by retailing through trunk shows, sometimes up to four days in duration. These biannual pop-ups ensure footfall as customers have spent months looking forward to each seasonal show. Following HIND on Instagram keeps fans up-to-date with available items between trunk shows. Changing show locations also means that HIND can support local venues. Combining history, art and culture Dar Al Funoon, a place to share the breathtaking beauty of Islamic Arts, has been a wonderful location to house the collection recently and the structure reminds Tasneem of homes in India with their similar courtyards. “Pop-ups allow you to get to meet the customer” Tasneem says, this being an important part of the process for the two, continuing, “Dar Al Funoon speaks to the HIND brand. The location is great too because there’s so much parking!” proving the business mind that underlines what is essentially an ethical fashion label of discerning high-quality with maintaining good relationships at the heart of everything that they do.
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL QUESTIONNAIRE
What do you most value in your friends?
Both: A good laugh, honesty, & acceptance.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Both: Getting a brand that we love to say yes.
What is your greatest fear?
Both: People not showing up at the show.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Tasneem: Getting carried away in the moment and saying the wrong thing.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Which living person do you most admire?
Both: Our parents.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Both: Art supply/ Stationery shops.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
What is it that you most dislike?
Which talent would you most like to have?
Tasneem: To be a polyglot.
If you could have any job, what would it be?
Fatma: Art therapist.
Tasneem: Besides being an entrepreneur, hmmm an anthropologist.
What would you consider your greatest achievement?
Both: Starting HIND.
What is your most treasured possession?
Fatma: my watercolor supplies.
Tasneem: my pencil case.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Fatma: Being a dreamer.
Tasneem: My talkativeness.
Where would you most like to live?
Fatma: On the mountains.
Tasneem: Beach side.
What are your favorite words to live by?
Tasneem: Know your worth and dream.
For details on HIND’s upcoming trunk show from the 14th-17th of this month follow @hindofkuwait on Instagram. Buying photographs courtesy of HIND. Featured image by bazaar.