Q&A with HZ by Hissa Zainal
Ahlan! sat down with the up-and-coming Qatari designer to talk about her new label HZ by Hissa Zainal and how she’s building a family business.
Did you always want to be a fashion designer?
I actually went to VCUQatar convinced I was going to be an interior designer, but after my foundation course, it hit me that I wanted to do fashion; that was how I wanted to express myself. I started designing avant garde, over-the-top pieces, but that’s not real life – you can’t wear it. My own fashion sense is comfortable yet elegant, so after my final year collection which was inspired by the circus, I toned my creativity down to make my clothes more wearable.
Your first collection is called "Prologue" - is this a taste of things to come?
It’s an introduction to the brand – there is certainly more to come! Prologue is a dramatically playful yet elegant ensemble, combining pastels with bold colours. It’s a showcase of timeless silhouettes inspired by geometric shapes and finished with quality craftsmanship. I’m not interested in fast fashion – I want my clothes to stand the test of time.
HZ by Hissa Zainal is run by three sisters. How do you all work together?
The label is our brainchild. My eldest sister Hend is responsible for all the marketing and communication, my older sister Ruda designs the website and I design the clothes. We are very close, but also very opinionated! We all come from a design background, but specialised in different areas so we have something unique to bring to the table. We all have full-time day jobs, as well. Hend runs her own design company, Design, Inc., whereas Ruda works for Ooreedo and I’m a merchandiser for Qatar Museums. We’re all very busy!
What is your creative process?
I’m heavily inspired by architecture and geometric shapes. I look at international colour forecasting to make ensure I stay current with my direction, but I don't really care for trends, as we always strive to stay true to our philosophy. For me, it’s all about flattering garments that bring out a woman’s natural body beauty. Once I have our ideas in place I move on to production. I work with the best manufacturing units and best suppliers in the region to ensure consistent high quality.
How did you set up your company?
I’m part of the second batch of incubated companies under Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC). I’m grateful for the opportunity QBIC has provided me with – they helped me with the business side of things and gave me the technical and moral support I needed. I started working with them in November, and by January I was designing and looking at production.
What are your ambitions for the future?
My goal is to be recognised as a prominent Qatari brand on the international fashion scene. My main ambition is to be able to collaborate with other young local and international designers, from graphic to interior designers, and showcase their work under the HZ brand. This would enable us to offer something to a larger client base and do something really special.
Who are these clothes aimed at?
The HZ woman stands out in a crowd. She is a trendsetter in her own right. She is graceful yet playful, and she is true to her own style. While international in its look and feel, HZ’s main goal is to provide women from this region with garments that are high in quality, but still caters to the regional needs of seasons, silhouettes and sizes. The brand follows local seasons such as Eid and national holidays, which insures that our local and regional customers have their garments when they need them.
Where do you shop in Doha?
I shop at department stores that carry international brands, but it’s hard to find unique pieces that cater to our personal styles. This is part of the reason why I created the label!