It was quite a busy first day at WHITExpo, and it doesn’t look like things are slowing down anytime soon!
Although the expo hosted an exclusive VIP showing Saturday, yesterday marked the first official day of the event, the fourth of its kind so far. The event had an impressive attendance of Kuwaiti local businesses and clothing designers. Although Ramadan-inspired caftan companies dominated the expo, other businesses selling bukhoor, candy, home accessories, and jewelry were also in attendance.
Tying the different varieties of booths together was WHITExpo’s “Make A Wish Tree” at the center of the exhibition, which served to remind attendees of the greater good behind the event. The tree, adorned with paper wishes, is dedicated to the orphans of Kuwait.
At the expo, the caftan scene was bustling, to say the least, and bursting with vibrant colors, sequins, and elegant styles. One of the busiest booths at the expo was, without a doubt, Reem by Reem Al-Hemaidan. The fashion designer is well-known in the Instagram world, where she promotes her latest collections and boasts more than six thousand followers.
One of the most beautiful booths at the expo was Our Home (“Baituna” in Arabic), a home accessories company that dates back to 1939. This year, the family business has implemented a unique Ramadan twist to their collection, offering delicate prayer rugs and plates adorned with the 'Hand of Fatima' symbol.
“The bowls, murals, panels, prayer rugs, and accessories are all new,” says Nuha Al-Sudairawi, owner of Our Home. “Every season it’s different, whether it’s Hajj, Ramadan, or New Year’s – each time, we make something new according to the season.”
Other companies are taking a more traditional Kuwaiti route, decorating their products with girge’an-inspired illustrations. Lapaidro, a company that first launched a year ago, specializes in both personalized and themed silverware and kitchenware. Their new collection includes tea and coffee thermoses decorated with illustrations of children dressed in traditional girge’an gear. This year, their round cloth Ramadan-inspired trays and bowls are selling quickly.
“For Ramadan, we included cartoons and illustrations, and now we’ve started working with artists,” says Anwar Al-Sabah, who was manning the Lapaidro booth with Fajer Al-Bader, the brand’s founder.
Another booth that stood out at the expo was Funkyology, a company that first started two years ago and specializes in personalized gift sets, towels, and pillowcases. The company conveniently fills what used to be an unfulfilled niche in Kuwait.
“I always used to order personalized items online,” says Sara Shuaib, founder of Funkyology. “When I realized we didn’t have anything Kuwaiti that specialized in personalized items, I decided to start it up.”
One main trend we noticed was that Egyptian legend Um Kulthum was everywhere – whether her face was replicated in pop art form on pillowcases or subtly appeared on teacups, the iconic Arab singer was spotted quite a few times at several booths.
Also spotted at WHITExpo was renowned Kuwaiti blogger and fashion designer Ascia Al-Faraj, who paid a visit to the expo to get a general sense of what’s going on in the Kuwaiti fashion world. The designer, who visits several expositions a year, was quite impressed with the exhibition. “I think the quality of things has really increased,” says Ascia. “I think a couple of years ago when expos first started out, the quality was kind of rushed but now designers are just kind of going for it.”
And, the exhibition definitely left its mark on the fashion blogger. “There are lots of colors and lots of sequins — it’s gorgeous,” she says. “I wear a lot of sequins as it is, but all of the colors have inspired me to wear more color.”
The exhibition is busy, but with good reason. Multiple booths have limited supplies of some of their most beautiful products, so check out WHITExpo while you still can!
WHITExpo is taking place from July 29-31 from 8 pm to 1 am at the exhibition hall of 360 Mall.
– Text and photography: Kawther Albader