Loved by celebrity style stars such as Blake Lively, Lily Cole and Freida Pinto, INTROPIA (formerly known as Hoss INTROPIA) has finally landed in Dubai. The brand currently has stores across the region, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Just last week, Constan Hernandez, the founder of the brand, travelled to Dubai to open the new store in Mall of the Emirates and Bazaar caught up with him to talk about famous faces, fashion tastes in the Middle East and the future.
Harper’s Bazaar Arabia: You recently changed the brand name from HOSS INTROPIA to just INTROPIA – why the change?
Constan Hernandez: We were originally named Homeless, but once we began moving the brand overseas, we decided to change the name to Hoss Intropia and registered the name INTROPIA. INTROPIA is the combination of inner utopia and reflects what the brand is all about, namely the beauty within and the dreams we all have inside each one of us.
HBA: You’ve enjoyed incredible success in the 22 years you’ve been in business – what’s been the biggest highlight?
CH: The biggest highlight for me is when we decided to introduce occasion wear to the collection and it has been very successful for us.
HBA: Why did you decide now was the right time to open a store in Dubai?
CH: There was never really a decision about it. Dubai has an enormous amount of competition in the terms of finding the right mall and the right location, so it was really just a question of waiting. The two things work together, first when the market is ready and then when you find the right location. Both have just come together for us and we are thrilled to finally be introducing the brand to Dubai.
HBA: What about the brand do you think will resonate with the women of this city?
CH: If we talk about the Dubai local women it will most likely be the occasion wear which we are known for, whereas in the terms of Dubai’s expat community I believe they will be truly inspired by our more casual pieces.
HBA: You’ve got several stores across the Middle East already – how have you found the brand to be received by the women in Kuwait/Bahrain/Saudi and Lebanon? Are their buying habits similar?
CH: They are absolutely different. If you are in Riyadh or Qatar, the women there are more modest and choose the pieces with longer sleeves and hemlines. Women in Kuwait and Dubai are more liberal in their style and choose things accordingly. Abu Dhabi is an interesting mix; it is not as modest as Saudi Arabia but not as open as Dubai. This is all to do with the fascinating diversity of culture that can be found in the different parts of the region.
A look from INTROPIA's S/S16 look book
HBA: Which pieces sell the most in the Middle East?
CH: We have noticed that long dresses are very popular throughout the Middle East region. Women here love to dress up for evenings out.
HBA: What was the inspiration behind the S/S16 collection?
CH: When we do our moodboards for inspiration we always try to make sure that we can translate our strong DNA internationally. This is what inspires the patterns, the colours, the embellishments. Architecture is also always a strong inspiration for me.
HBA: What is your favourite piece in the collection? Why?
CH: I can’t really choose just one piece. As I am not a woman, it is unfair for me to choose a favourite. I believe a woman should always choose her favourite piece in the moment. That moment will always change. Depending on who she is, what her style is and her look, favourites will vary and that is the fun part of exploring a brand.
HBA: You’ve had a lot of incredibly stylish celebrities wear pieces from the label – who has been your favourite A-list customer so far?
CH: There have been many very respected celebrities wearing pieces from INTROPIA, but I think of them a bit like having children and there will always be a special place in your heart for the first one. For INTROPIA that would be Tamara Rojo, who was at the time the English Prima Ballerina and has now gone on to become the Artistic Director of English National Ballet. She was the first INTROPIA woman.
Blake Lively, Freida Pinto and Lily Cole all wearing INTROPIA
HBA: Who hasn’t worn INTROPIA yet that you’d like to see in something from the collection?
CH: Too many to name. I would love to see lots of women in the INTOPIA clothes who enjoy the brand and are confident in the clothes they wear.
HBA: What can we expect when we go in-store?
CH: I think the first thing that will hit people when they come in is the lightness and freshness the store has about it. This store is different to any other you will find around the world; this is the first store that encapsulates the new brand. The store has been designed with the INTROPIA woman in mind, full of her favourite things that she has collected from travelling. We work very hard on ensuring each guest has a positive experience when they come into the store.
HBA: How would you describe the INTROPIA woman?
CH: I like to say that the INTORPIA woman is the owner of the century, meaning that she knows who she is and where she is going. She can wear whatever she wants and has fantastic taste.
HBA: What’s next for the brand?
CH: A brand is like a child, you have to give it enough encouragement, push and nourishment to ensure it grows. I hope to leave the brand in the hands of someone who will continue my vision and will cultivate the brand to grow in the right way. I am not delusional in the sense of wanting to open a million stores, I have reasonable goals and want the brand to grow in a way that it is still manageable.
- Maddison Glendinning