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Creative Direction: Amy Sessions
Photographer: Greg Adamski
Cover Star: Zeynab El-Helw
Words: Sarah Joseph
Makeup & Hair: Melanie Meyer
Production: Olivia Morris
Fashion Editor: Daniel Robinson
With special thanks to SĀN Beach
All crystals Motion Trading
Zeynab El-Helw, founder of socially conscious brand Reborn, on how to combine sustainability and style as Emirates Woman‘s July/August cover star.
What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?
The first 30 minutes of my daily routine are pretty eventful. I’m up when my youngest one, Angelina, who’s 11 months old needs nursing. Post this, I quickly head for a caffeine fix and mentally plan the day ahead. I then cater to my little boy’s breakfast and speed off to his nursery. Overall, these first 30 minutes are fast-paced, giving me a kick with plenty of motivation. I always try to incorporate a mix of yoga, reformer, and mat pilates into my daily routine to set the tone and it’s a healthy addiction that I live by. It really helps my mindset and physically makes me feel stronger and ready to tackle anything. This all relates to the positive core message of my brand Reborn, which is laced with feel-good keywords embedded in its identity.
What inspired you to launch Reborn and how did you know it was the right time?
I’ve been meaning to do this for many years. Coming from a fashion background, I wanted to ensure that this brand would cater to a gender-fluid society. It was very difficult to find the right time and the timing turned out to be extremely challenging and completely off plan. We faced many hurdles due to the pandemic as shipments got delayed or canceled, factories closed without any warnings, and employees lost their jobs or were falling sick, therefore we were obliged to postpone the collection launch. It was a stressful period, yet strangely enough, it worked out to my advantage. During this time, I was reaching the final months of pregnancy with my first child and so many natural changes occurred in parallel. For example, being a content creator, I was constantly traveling while pregnant, and being hit by a pandemic many things changed abruptly. My lifestyle and mindset changed and my lifestyle really reflected in my work hence the name Reborn. I felt I had become a new person and my vision and brand identity in creating this fashion line began to shift naturally. We evolved before 2019 and finalized the concept during the pandemic. I wanted it to be a much more relaxed and relatable clothing line giving back to humanity, an eco-positive brand in both aspects. When the pandemic hit, it changed the world and in a way changed my vision immensely. I didn’t want to create a fast-fashion brand, but instead to focus on a sustainable line that doesn’t go out of season. Simultaneously, I wanted the brand identity to feel strong and make whoever wears the brand feel good. Our first campaign launch was really integrating different cultures, different nationalities, and different body shapes. The message was that everyone can feel and look good in Reborn.
Each collection is produced from 100 percent certified organic cotton. How was this a challenge and how did you overcome this?
It was a very difficult challenge as trying to find the fabrics took quite a long time to create something that would feel very soft on the skin and at the same time capture the characteristics and DNA of the brand. We faced many hurdles and I had lots of trial and error phases to ensure that the fabrics remained soft with all the processing which took above all time and patience. We went through many stages before reaching the final product.
Each product sold gives back to the UNHCR. How important is it to give back to society for you?
This was something very important for me as shopping with a purpose is key. Conscious consumerism is something we definitely need more of. I really wanted to connect with a charity that I believe in and create a cool young brand that gives back to society. Working with UNHCR for many years on social media gave me more insight. It only made me want to dive deeper and give back to the underprivileged. We are currently in discussions to see how we can develop this further so hopefully, there will be a lot more coming.
Tell us more about your latest activewear collection.
The activewear line is an effortless and flattering collection worn in many circumstances – to work out or to hang out with your friends. The idea was that each piece can be mixed and matched with the core collection and other brands. The activewear collection has items that can be styled in so many different ways and that was really the vision behind it. For example, the stylish bodysuits can be teamed up with denim on a weekend day or night out, alternatively worn with a blazer or a yoga class, making it essential everyday wear.
Your pieces emulate an urban street vibe – how do you manage to keep it fresh season after season?
We try to forecast ahead and already being very involved with the fashion world, I’m continuously inspired. Keeping the brand fresh season after season is the fun part as I feel with the urban street style, there’s so much to offer and being in love with it hopefully reflects well in the brand.
Where did the tie-dye influence come from and which style consistently drives sales each season?
The tie dye influence has always been a technique that never goes out of fashion which I’ve always loved to play and innovate with. It just resonates good vibes and easily spruces up a look. The core sets in the collection are always the most popular as they’re easy to wear and flatter all body shapes. There’s a tomboyish twist but still remains feminine and chilled while the men’s collection has that oversized coolness.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
If I had to advise my younger self, I would definitely say to listen to my gut feeling and not be set back or hesitate due to opinions or criticism. Criticism should only make you work harder and not give up, it’s best to be taken in as flattery to become stronger. Nobody knows what your goals are but yourself, therefore it’s up to you to focus and know it takes time, patience and perseverance to make it happen. Stop talking about what you want to do and start taking baby steps which will help reach a mid-point and get you started on your journey.
What are your must-pack Reborn essentials for summer?
My must-pack Reborn essentials for the summer have to be the swimwear pieces and oversized masculine style shirts to really lounge in which can be worn at the beach or at home or for a day or evening out. The idea behind the collection is the first thing you grab from the shelf, especially when you’re stuck on what to wear. We all have those days when we get ready quite quickly and want to look good.
This is The Summer Escape Issue – where would you like to escape to this summer?
I would love to escape to southern Italy this summer and just drive along the coast. I love summer, the sound of the waves, the shadows from the palm trees, endless sunsets, and blue skies. These are all part of my inspiration palette. It gives me a sense and feeling of freshness, uplifting freedom which is a great way to get my juices flowing for the next drop.
July/August’s – ‘The Summer Escape Issue’ – Download Now
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