One to watch: AKS by Amna and Asma Khaled Saif

One to watch: AKS by Amna and Asma Khaled Saif

"The market is warming up to GCC-labeled brands"

Interview: Shannon Wylie

Image: AKS

Two sisters from Bahrain have launched their eponymous label into the Paris spotlight in the hopes that the Middle East will take notice. Here's Amna and Asma Khaled Saif's story so far...

Introducing AKS, a Bahraini brand, which is the namesake of sisters Amna and Asma Khaled Saif (pictured). Officially launched at Paris Fashion Week this season, the ready-to-wear brand is already gaining traction, regionally and internationally. Now, while moving forward with their next show, the girls look back on their first foray into fashion revealing the emotions, energy and expectations on Middle Eastern designers... 

You recently went to Paris to show your first collection. Looking back, what was the experience like?

We presented AKS as a contemporary ready-to-wear brand in Paris last season at the Capsule trade show. It was our first fashion week so there were a lot of emotions involved! The experience as a whole was intimidating and yet very exciting.

As a Middle Eastern brand in Paris, what were people's perception of AKS?

We really started to understand how the market is warming up to GCC-labeled brands. All of the insight and feedback we received was, without a doubt, the best package to bring back home. We are now ready for round two.

Tell us about the current collection.

AKS FW16 is a combination between that Parisian "je ne sais quoi" negligé feeling and urban street style. You will find very tailored pieces infused with the codes of what the urban wardrobe is about: twists and ties, layering, a lot of wraps, oversized pieces and asymmetrical cuts. All 18 looks from our FW16 collection are easily wearable dressed up or dressed down.

Did you design for a Middle Eastern market, considering the weather in the region is different than in Europe?

We worked that bridge between what the Fall/Winter season is here in the GCC and what a more western Fall/Winter season is through the choice of fabrics we used. Our outerwear pieces and the long belt that wraps around multi-ways, which are found in several looks, are our signature touches for the season. 

A lot more Middle Eastern designers are now showing in Paris. What's your take on it?

Paris is the fashion capital of the world. The city has always led the fashion industry on so many levels. Paris is also very much about the classic, elegant and high-end wardrobe. So positioning ourselves there and showcasing our FW16 line was a risk we took to stand out, as our line embraces the more minimal side of fashion. 


In the Middle East there is still this debate between wholesale versus consignment for up-and-coming designers. Is that one of the reasons you decided to show in Paris?

On a more generic level it gives us the chance to be able to find a stockist; one that understands the concept of wholesale, which is key in this industry. The region here is still very much focused on consignment except for the major multi-brand players and they are less inclined to scout and nurture local talent than retailers abroad. It was a choice. And we believe we made the right one.  

What's next for AKS?

We've been admitted to Tranoi this coming Paris Fashion Week to present our SS17 collection. 

AKS is currently available at their flagship in Bahrain, Lati Fashion in Riyadh, Minbart in Abu Dhabi and Dress Me in Doha.