Ater more than a decade in luxury retail for brands like Kenzo, Harvey Nichols and Boutique 1, Turkish-American Ayse Arel’s brainchild, Maison Orient, has been a long time coming. Launching this month, this e-commerce crossroads of east meets west has narrowly identified exactly what we want from our boutiques and brands these days; uniqueness, a story and to support local purveyors as much as we can. And with Ayse’s impeccable eye and curious nature, we’ve no doubt that Maison Orient has the chops to go all the distance. We picked her brain to find out more…
The founder of Maison Orient, Ayse Arel
Harper's BAZAAR Arabia: So what’s your elevator pitch?
Ayse Arel: Maison Orient is a curated e-commerce platform for brands, designers and artists from the ‘Orient’ with a mission to tell their stories and introduce them to a wider global audience. We want to connect creative talents from different corners of the world with consumers who are looking for quirkiness and authenticity.
HBA: Well that sounds lovely – and very 2019, if you don’t mind us saying. Give us the inside scoop, then. What five brands do we need to be readying our credit card for?
AA: Lako Bukia from Georgia, Hak the Label from Oman, Ne Nepal from Nepal, Bouguessa from the UAE and House of Ogan from Turkey – but I find it very hard to choose as I believe all the designers I’ve discovered have amazing collections. They’re doing everything locally and try to portray their cultures in the most creative way possible. While their aim is to grow internationally, they don’t lose themselves along the way by trying to become like others.
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HBA: A wise move, we think. Ok, other than platforming burgeoning local talent, do you have another USP you can show off?
AA: It’s very difficult for brands to have the means and know-how to manage marketing and logistics, especially on an international level. So we will be their partner and provide all these services so they can achieve their goals globally. I believe people are looking to shop much more consciously, and they look for a meaning behind the brands they purchase. Shoppers are looking to combine their existing favourite brands with smaller regional ones and our platform is not just about clothes and accessories, it’s also about heritages, cultures, stories and authentic details.
Hak the Label from Oman
HBA: We love nothing more than a good story. What’s your favourite from all the brands you carry?
AA: Jeweller Donna Hourani upholds the highest standards of environmental, social and economical sustainability throughout her supply chain. The Summer House is another that’s made a choice to say no to the easy way of sourcing materials and at the risk of increasing costs, instead finds fabric from environments that don’t abuse the earth and works directly with craftsmen and NGOs.
HBA: We’re sold. But here’s the million-dirham question: how quickly can we get our hands on the stuff?
AA: We’ve partnered with one of the best logistics providers so shipping time is between 1-7 business days.
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