Shireen Abbas and Saliha Shiraz are two best friends based in Dubai and London respectively and together they design t-shirts that pay homage to some of the most coveted after designer brands. Their designs have gained popularity amongst the fashionistas around the world. Khaleejesque recently caught up with this dynamic duo to get to know them better.
How did the concept come about and how did you come up with this name?
Shireen: I studied business and economics however, I was always inclined towards the fashion industry. After my post graduation, I wanted to do something in fashion but didn’t want to work for under someone. Coincidently, my best friend Saliha who also studied business management was at that time looking to start a fashion line. She regularly visited Dubai and when I moved here and we brainstormed many ideas. It was at this point, we both decided that we needed to channel our obsession with fashion into something more.
Saliha: Having worked as a fashion buyer previously, I was exposed to clothing and trends on a daily basis and felt that the T-shirt was a regular item in every wardrobe which is versatile and never goes out of style. With my inclination towards fashion coupled with Shireen’s business sense, we both put our heads together and came up with The T-shirt Swag.
The name was the easy part, we both have a love for style and individuality and that’s where the Swag comes in.
Where do the two of you get your inspiration from?
We both have a completely different sense of style from one another and that really works well for us when we brainstorm ideas for our collection. Due to the extensive time spent by Saliha in UK and Norway, she is able to generate ideas that are inspired by the western world. Similarly, I have spent a lot of time in the Middle East so I am able to fuse ideas keeping in mind the culture and influence of the Middle Eastern cliental.
Our designs are inspired by all sorts of things from people to places, to things we like and most importantly our love of designer brands. We like to add a bit of humour in our slogans and play around with what is already out there in the fashion scene, giving it our own twist visually.
Do you each have a defined role or do you both work together on everything from design, print and production?
We both work together on everything. It is very important for us to be on the same page from the design process to production and finally marketing and sales. So far that’s proven to be our key to success!
Where are the t-shirts produced?
Our t shirts are produced in UAE and Turkey.
Describe the woman who wears your tees?
The woman who wears T-shirt Swag knows what she wants in life and makes sure she gets it. Her wardrobe is a representation of her personality and every outfit she wears is carefully selected to fit each part of her day from work to lunch with colleagues, to a meeting with clients and finally a night out with friends. The Swag woman knows how to dress her outfits up or down effortlessly and turns heads in a simple T-shirt and jeans.
Tell us about the entire process of designing a t-shirt, from start to finish?
Surprising as this may sound, it isn't easy churning out the perfect tee for our swaggers! Either the cut is unflattering or the fabric is too thick/sheer. Having come across these issues repeatedly, we designed our own unique tee. Our cut flatters the body shape without being skin-tight or looking like a baggy potato sack. The sleeves are sewn in to have that rolled-up sleeve look. Neck-line and shirt length was also thoughtfully decided keeping practicality as well as trends in mind.
We make our own fabric that is 100 percent cotton, rendering it not overly thick or hot, but without being so light that it's see-through. Our printing can be machine washed and ironed.
Our design process starts with emailing a range of sketches to each other at every burst of inspiration, be it 3am! We jot down all the ideas and things that inspire us and make rough sketches. Finally we sit with our team of young artists who work with us to create beautiful illustrations of our design concepts
We both are each other's biggest critic and that helps us create the best of everything (cut, fabric, design, printing).
How did you grow so fast in such little time?
Our fashion philosophy is simple which makes our work simple, good quality trendy t-shirts for any occasion. People want no fuss fashion in their fast pace lives and we offer just that with a little more swag! That’s what brought us to where we are today and that’s how we intend on growing for years to come
Today the T-shirt swag has reached new heights, worn and loved by bloggers, celebrities and socialites in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. "Hilariously clever" "chic" "quirky" are some of the reviews from big names in the blogging world
Where are you stocked, both locally and internationally?
To date, The T-shirt Swag has been selling directly all over the world through our offices in London and Dubai
We are currently stocking at Candella- Dubai, Hangers – Kuwait and Boutique Muscat- Muscat.
We will soon be stocking in Egypt and Scandinavian countries.
Who would you like to dress in your t-shirts?
We love all the bloggers and celebs that have already rocked our tees! But if we were to name a few, Olivia Palermo – she can carry off every look in the book; Michelle Obama – just because! And Sara Jessica Parker – nobody can make a t-shirt look red carpet ready like her.
Describe to us the perfect look with your T-shirt, the accessories, shoes, bag etc to complete the look?
Looking at the way trends have evolved with time, we feel this fashion era is by far the most experimental. We have the freedom to dress however we like. Having said that we have a few favourite looks:
'this aint laurent' tee with black leather shorts, a classic Chanel maxi(red or blue) and a pair of super high loubs! Not to mention arm candy and a watch to keep track of how fast time flies when you’re having fun!
Photo credits: The T-Shirt Swag
For more information, check out their instagram @thetshirtswag