Dubai based womenswear brand. Founded by Jordanian Lara Ali for the cheerful and elegant modest woman.
Business / Brand: Lara Ali
Current situation: the brand sells made-to-order garments but wants to start an industrial production. The founder has no access to different suppliers rather than the retail shops in Dubai and the low manufacturing quality in Middle East for her garments.
Problems identified by Maelle: the founder has no knowledge of the fashion business, no experience and no contacts. The founder doesn’t know how to organize the industrial production and the commercial strategy.
Sections of focus: Branding, Production, Communication.
Objective: To create a brand identity as ready-to-wear, produce in Italy (Made in Italy) and define a solid commercial network.
Introduction and problem statement
Lara Ali brand is a Dubai-based women’s fashion brand founded by Jordanian Lara Ali.
Lara contacts Leda towards the end of 2020, at a time when she is seeking the help of a professional to manage her brand and develop it beyond bespoke.
Lara Ali has not studied fashion in the past, has no experience in the sector and has no contacts with industry leaders.
Lara invites Leda to her private event fashion show in the Al Rashid restaurant in Dubai, around November 2020. This event immediately reveals the weaknesses of the brand. The collection itself does not have a precise style, the manufacturing quality is poor and the choice of fabrics is very dispersive.
The sales network is non-existent, since Lara is able to reproduce only one garment at a time, for reasons of lack of materials and the lack of a homogeneous collection.
Previous collections from Lara Ali
The analysis of the problem
Speaking with Lara, the experts Leda and Martina understand that the problem that the brand is facing goes far beyond the choice of the change from the high fashion / bespoke industry to the ready-to-wear industry.
The brand presents numerous situations that need to be reviewed, certainly starting with the way in which Lara obtains the materials for her products.
Leda understands that the identity of the brand is not clear even to Lara herself, that a market analysis has never been done (but what can it be possible to do if the product is not clear?) and advises Lara to start absolutely from the section Branding to clarify the consumer’s profile.
Finally, it is Martina who tackles the importance of communication – the founder is using the page on Instagram Lara Ali brand as a pure and simple showcase window, showing repetitive images of the product in a totally impersonal way, evading any possibility of creating empathy. Lara Ali does not own a website so the only source of information about the brand comes from the social page of Instagram (immensely limiting chances to be discovered and tell its story). Martina discovers that when Lara does not treat her posts as a showcase without a soul, she promotes completely unrelated personal contents, treating the page as a personal diary (another big mistake when it comes to businesses – in the analysis of the identity it is understood even if you should use or not this kind of content).
- The first problem is the identity of the brand;
- The second problem is production (materials, shapes, fittings and production chain);
- The third is communication, which is not constant, it is devoid of empathy, of storytelling on the product and on the founder of the brand.
Maelle team creates this document to share with Lara the reasons to change her business model, working on the target and the logo at the beginning.
From bespoke to ready-to-wear
This situation is exactly one of the reason why Maelle was founded. The Limited Creativity is one of the 4 primary challenges brands face during the first 3 years of business. If the situation doesn’t evolve, it can lead the founder to give up the business because there is no access to new and up-to-trends materials and no innovation and progress at all.
Read more to find out what can you do if you are in the same situation.
The reason why the product is of poor quality is due to the few opportunities that the local Emirate (in the specific case of the brand Lara Ali) market presents to the brands.
The founder finds herself choosing materials (fabrics and fashion accessories) only in the shops where the final consumers buy (which is unthinkable for fashion brands for economic and capacity reasons) and the choice of these is extremely limiting. Brands should make their own exclusive prints and eventually fabrics and customized accessories.
So the main problem is that fabrics and accessories (zips, buttons, etc.), cannot be customized in any way.
The fabrics that Lara chooses look more like upholstery, baroque style, or Jordanian embroidery that she can apply as a detail, but that can't blend well with the garment.
Manufacturing companies are also very rare in Middle East area (and they could be in yours too). And when they produce for brands, they only produce abayas and tunics, jackets with eighties shoulder pads, trousers cigarette and loose cut and fit garments.
The manufacturing tailor shops are mostly composed of independent tailors, who would not be able to develop an industrial production and facilitate digital size shots anyway.
The main reason is due to the fact that the pattern makers work on hard paper and have no expertise in CAD or other digital pattern development programs (thus clearly preventing any idea of industrial production). Also, it is clear for practical reason, that is the pattern of the garment is made on paper, it would be very hard to bring it around, ship it and keep it safe. Digitalization helps pattern to stay safe, since it is a CAD digital file you can save, share and use for all your next collections when you need it. A digital file can be edited anytime in less than a minute. A paper pattern requires hours and material to use.
The last benefit of having a digital file for the pattern is that you can have it always with you, if you change manufacturing company, you don't have to worry about the shipping of this item too.
what is the problem?
Brands are limited in their creativity when they have to settle for suppliers that do not meet their expectations
Lara starts using Maelle, starting with the Branding section, she understands that:
- the logo no longer reflects her product, and after a session with our graphic expert Marco Gallotta, realizes that now Lara must be an elegant, industrial and high-profile brand. The representation with the symbol of the butterfly is in contrast to the new productive idea of her.
- Later, Lara analyzes her identity as a brand and as a founder. The analysis of the Brand Book in Maelle reveals her that her archetype is the Ruler and that her consumer has characteristics very similar to her personality. It is no coincidence, in most cases (65% based on the brands analyzed by Maelle) the founders of the brands projects their own characteristics, weaknesses, strengths and capabilities onto their brands and products.
When Lara has to choose the suppliers in Maelle, she enters the Production section. In front of her eyes, the page of List of Supplier clearly reveals the limit in her creativity: for geographical reasons, lack of experience and unconsciousness, Lara was limiting her vision.
In the Communication section, they understand that:
- using the editorial plan created by the communication expert Martina, the brand can finally obtain a constant and organic growth for their social pages (using Instagram as the main social), and also the attention for the wholesale retailers without spending a fortune on ads.
Finally, the Lara is confronted with the Sales section. Before starting her journey in the platform, Lara knew that the market would have been Nord of Asia, Middle East and USA.
In the “Match with buyers” section, every season they choose the shopkeepers who might be right for them (boutiques, multi-brand, wholesalers, retailer chains, etc). Here Lara can read all buyers profiles and contact them in complete autonomy in Maelle private chat.
latest collection Lara Ali
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Leda lives in the same city of Lara, Dubai, so they met during all the first months when Lara started to use the platform, and the founder asked for some extra services she wanted assistance for. Lara Ali asked for these services:
- analysis of competitors (branding section – expert: Leda Di Marti);
- customized communication strategy (communication section – expert: Martina Di Pasquale);
- fashion production technical designs + selection of materials and fabrics (production section – expert: Leda Di Marti).
- Organization for the photo-shoot for the new collection, management and selection of participants (Make Up Artist / Hair Stylist, photographer, location, videomaker + collaboration with the Hatzelle hat brand, based in Dubai).
Analysis of competitors
- What is included into Maelle membership: in the Branding section, there is the quiz called Brand Book to know your archetype, your consumer’s behavior and analyze a slogan with which a brand can elaborate its commercial strategy. This information is sufficient for the founder of the brand to independently process its competitors, it is also an excellent exercise for self-assessment: what is the price? Is it a competitive price? Does the brand have an attractive style, in line with other brands?
At any time, at the end of this self-analysis, or in its development, the founder can always contact Leda Di Marti for a discussion with the expert.
- What Maelle experts give you: When a founder does not have time or does not want to face a competitor analysis alone, the expert Leda Di Marti analyzes for the brand all the different types of competitors in detail, with advice and inputs to develop the brand and its communication and commercial network:
Style competitor, mood competitor, price competitor, product competitor, target competitor.
Customized communication strategy
- What is included into Maelle membership: one full year of editorial content plan (determinated by the official fashion calendar of ready-to-wear/pret-à-couture – production, photoshoot sessions, sales campaign, etc.), made by the expert Martina Di Pasquale. The editorial content plan is based on the form you fill up at the beginning of each season.
- What Maelle experts give you:
- support in the creation of a strategy that includes the search for a PR office in the markets chosen for the distribution of the product, use and promotion of ads and collaborations with influencers (in general analysis of online and offline options);
- support in the creation of individual contents for the brand’s social networks, including the writing of the scripts – captions for the social networks, the registration and editing of the content (videos, carousels, photos) for all social media and the brand website.
selection of materials and fabrics + fashion production technical designs
- What is included into Maelle membership:
In the section Production – Designing, the founder follows the guidelines to plan and design a collection that sells for the chosen market. In the Leda section he explains both how to organize the garments, how to mix the DNA of the brand, the inspiration and the trends of the season. Once the collection has been defined, the choice of suppliers takes place automatically through the Suppliers section, which shows all the manufacturers and companies producing accessories and fabrics. The process is straightforward and simple to follow, and must be repeated for each season.
- What Maelle experts give you:
- Leda is responsible for consulting on fashion materials. By contacting her for the project, he will recommend the best materials for the fit that the brand requires. Her advice is invaluable if you are a beginner and if you want support for the combination of
materials, colors and heaviness of the fabrics.
- Leda is Maelle’s technical designer. The figures are unfortunately not accepted in an industrial production, you will have to resort to technical drawings that are called Flats and that help the manufacturers to understand without any doubt the product and all its details. To make these technical garments Adobe Illustrator is used and the required experience is proportional to the complexity of the garment. Leda produces more than 100 datasheets per year for brands of swimwear, everyday wear, children’s clothing, ceremony, etc.
Organization of the photo-shoot
- What is included into Maelle membership: The guidelines (video and text) help the founder understand what to do when the collection is about to be delivered, and the next step is to take it to start selling. Leda and her collaborators photographers have created a section on how and what to do when you have to manage a photo shoot, what are the different types of shots and for what purposes they are needed. Still-life, photos with model, sales campaign photos: do you really need all of them?
- What Maelle experts give you: Leda is the responsible to find professionals to help bring your vision into reality. Leda contacts the Make-up artist, model or models, the hairstylist for the brand, finds the location, the stylist and the photographer / video maker. Maelle’s team takes care of managing everyone’s commitments, their needs, their timelines and negotiates their compensation so that it fits within the budget set with the brand.
In the case of Lara Ali, Leda also contacted the founder of the Hatzelle brand, Cristina, for a fruitful and interesting collaboration with her hats, perfectly in line with Lara’s collection.