Even if you don’t know the label Mochi by name, you’ll almost certainly have spotted one of its vibrant textured designs. It might have popped up on your social feed, worn by Insta It Girls like Cara and Gigi, or you will have seen it championed by a stylish well-travelled woman, passing off Mochi’s hand-embroidered creations as the best holiday find ever. “I totally think that’s part of the appeal,” laughs Ayah Tabari, who founded the Dubai-based brand in 2013. “It looks like you were lucky enough to discover this one-off treasure from a bazaar or a gorgeous market somewhere.”
Ayah was inspired to set up Mochi after a business trip to India (more of which later), and has since produced seven ready-to-wear collections, each named after the region of the world that inspired it, and where the garments get embroidered by local artisans. Last year she added a line for children – Mini Mochi – and now she is about to collaborate with Topshop on a range called Prints by Mochi. Yes, that’s the high-street mega-brand Topshop, which has previously teamed up with the likes of Mary Katrantzou, Kate Moss, Meadham Kirchhoff and Marques ’Almeida. “I’m still pinching myself,” says Ayah. “I don’t think it’s going to hit me until it drops on the shop floor and I see it with my own eyes.”
But translating the ethos of Mochi, with its focus on limited-edition collections full of intricate hand-embroidery and local craftsmanship, into something that could be produced on a much bigger scale at a lower price point, required a lot of negotiation. “We knew the Spanish collection was one of our strongest, so we had a similar print designed in Italy and printed on cotton, and then we added some elements of raffia embroidery in India so we could still give back to local artisans,” says Ayah. “Production increased by 400 per cent for our Topshop collaboration, so it was a big step up for us in terms of scale, but we didn’t want to dilute the message of Mochi or compromise on quality.”
The capsule collection will feature six signature Mochi pieces such as the ruffled top, the balloon sleeve dress, the tube top and the mini skirt.
Ayah and her team of eight are based in Dubai’s Design District. “D3 is such a great platform for designers and this city really gives you the tools to reach an international audience,” she says. “I can’t think of a better base to develop the All Things Mochi mother-brand.” A furniture line, a swimwear collection and even a Mochi lifestyle store are all in the pipeline, but for now Ayah is taking a much-needed rest. “I need to learn how to relax and enjoy the moment.”
Read the full article in the April issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia
Prints by Mochi for Topshop launched April 7 in London, LA and online at Topshop.com
Fashion Editor: Gemma Deeks. Fashion Assistant: Malak Rabbat. Hair: Andrea Lindeyer and Rica Stoica at Be Bar. Make-up: Sonia Munoz and Bianca Ocampo for Laura Mercier. With thanks to Socialista Lounge, Dubai.