Dec 30, 2011

Niftee: Exclusive Interview With Founder Aljoud Lootah!

If you dwell in the GCC, follow fashion and haven't heard of Niftee I will be surprised. Perhaps even a little shocked. But for those of you who haven't let me introduce this UAE-based label anyway.

It's hard to describe Niftee in one word - but founder and designer Aljoud Lootah describes it as luxurious, handmade, hip, artistic, limited edition collectables. May I also add highly coveted.

In 2007, during her senior year at university, a graduation project which entailed Aljoud demonstrating the finest of her skills in graphic design eventually evolved into her very own tshirt and cashmere shawls line. Tshirts and cashemere shawls with modern cuts that incorporated Arabic calligraphy as well as traditional Arabic and Gulf motifs through hand-embroidery and digital print. If you've followed UNDER YOUR ABAYA for a while you will know that this is exactly my kind of thing!

"Dalal" from The Gold Collection

"Higub" from The Gold Collection

Personalized Niftee cashmere blanket embroidered with the names of newlyweds and the date of their wedding!

Four years later and Niftee is one of the Gulf region's most successful and coveted labels. Aljoud has expanded from tshirts, cashmere shawls and blankets to also include   womenswear, menswear and mobile phone covers, as well as special personlized projects for her clients.

I got the wonderful opportunity to talk to the mastermind of Niftee herself!

Tell me about your latest collection, "The Gold Collection."

The designs on the items depict elements from traditional Emirati Gold jewelry. I took images of my grandmother's jewelry, sketched them, broke them down to little pieces, rearranged the elements and combined them with Arabic calligraphy to create patterns and designs that were applied on a variety of items. These items include an oversized shrug, tops, t-shirts, cashmere shawl and an iPhone cover.

Why do you choose to use traditional Khaleeji motifs in your designs? And how do you transfer those motifs onto the clothes?

I often use elements from the Emirati culture and combine them with Arabic calligraphy and illustrations, while developing them in a modern way to appeal to the diverse target audience. There is always a story behind each collection - The person who owns a Niftee piece would be able to tell the story about the culture through what he/she is wearing.

In each collection, my designs are applied on the garments in a different way. Sometimes I screen-print my designs, transfer them through sheets of gold foil, have parts of them embroidered and such. The method often depends on the concept of each design.

Tell me about Niftee's success and achievements so far.

Alhamdulilah Niftee managed to have a myriad of achievements during a short period of time. Besides the production of my collections and being able to create a huge client base within almost 4 years from the GCC, Europe and America, I've also managed to expand the brand and work on a variety of corporate VIP gifts (commissioned by organizations and events). The gifts vary from embroidered passport covers given out at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit, to cashmere scarves for Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, to being commissioned as the designer of the official UAE National Day scarves that were given out to VIPs for the 40th National Celebrations.

Looks like you've really been busy at work! What have been the most popular pieces so far?

Honestly, it depends on each collection and season.. Now that it's winter, the Marriyyeh shawl is one of the best sellers.. Also, from the latest collection (The Gold Collection), the Taseh top got sold like hot cakes!

"Taseh" from The Gold Collection

The Taseh top is definitely my favorite too. What inspires you when you come up with a new collection?

I often do a lot of research in terms of checking the latest trends in fashion, colors, silhouettes and such.. I often pin my fav looks and color schemes on my mood board (and on my Pinterest page too! and then draw inspiration from them.. I am always inspired by elements from the Emirati culture and Arabic calligraphy. I find great beauty in such elements and they play a very big role in my designs.

Can you give us a clue about your next collection?

Well I can't disclose much, but what I can tell you is this: there will be some Arabic calligraphy in the designs and the execution would be different than what we have previously produced ;)

Finally, how can we purchase a Niftee piece?

Ordering any Niftee items is super easy! Customers can log on to, create an account and purchase any item of their choice. We ship internationally as well.

Aljoud, it's been a pleasure!


  1. I've known Aljoud for years now, she never ceases to impress me with her amazing work! Great interview, Yousra! ♥

  2. Thanks Fa6oom! You're amazing <3

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