Sisters Reem and Rawan al Mashrafi of RnR fame have made fashion an expression of simple, modern and elegant works on fabric
What started as an experiment for designing duo Rawan Said Al Mashrafi and Reem Al Mashrafi has turned into a full-fledged fashion affair, with a relentless pursuit to create and present stunning outfits for women who want to stand apart. While the experiment turned up challenges from different quarters, it was the fun factor that kept them going. In fact, looking back on their fashion foray, Rawan comments that it has been all for the good. “The challenges made us want to become better,” she observes.
For the designer sisters, the spur to get into the world of fashion designing came from their family. “It all started with the support of our family,” they note, pointing out that they began their journey by designing and tailoring clothes for themselves. “We always got compliments for our clothes… That encouraged us to move ahead with the idea of entering the fashion world,” they state.
Picture Credit: Photographer @pixbywij, Makeup and hair: @labella_house @rihamalsamad
The sisters have always been passionate about fashion and design and, in fact, aspired to have a business of their own, in addition to their day jobs. “We wanted to do something that we enjoyed so that it wouldn’t feel like a burden… And fashion was where we arrived at; it was the one thing we shared and loved and it worked out just right,” they add.
Nevertheless, they had their apprehensions and they admit that it sounded quite unrealistic initially. “We started buying readymade cloths from abroad and reselling them locally. Then we took it one step forward by creating newer versions of the clothes we bought, by altering the colours or the design and somehow adding our touch to it. Slowly, we learned how to design a whole piece and add it to our collection,” recounts Rawan.
Soon their first collection was all set for buyers and, to their amazement, the entire collection got sold within a matter of days. “All the pieces were sold even before we could do a photo shoot…this gave us the confidence to continue,” she adds.
The positive reviews have continued since and have helped bolster their move to grow further in their business. As they maintain: “The feedback we got after the release of every collection pushes us to do more and move forward…”
Both sisters are self-taught in the field of designing; however, Reem has more experience when it comes to fabrics, designs and trends, points out Rawan. “Working together, I have learnt so much from her…” she notes.
On their designing agenda are expansion plans, which also include adding abayas and, some day, even ready-to-wear clothes, to their line of collection. With cultural influences resplendent in their designs, they have a wide canvas to explore. They have been inspired, in no small way, Oman’s rich heritage, culture and tradition. Talking about the influences derived from Oman’s culture and heritage, they state that it gave them a wide range of options in choosing their designs. “We try to incorporate them into our designs; we strive to build a name that serves all Omanis,” they maintain, adding that they also stay in tandem with new trends even while respecting the cultural boundaries and taste. But they agree that Omani fashion has evolved over time to keep up with new trends. “It is now neater and less colourful than the traditional clothes used to be. For instance, the jalabiya has become more like a dress, even while maintaining some of the older concepts. This had made it more likeable for people, as it now suits many tastes,” they state.
Their collection, at present, is displayed to their buyers via social media, alongside exhibitions and occasional presentations in boutiques. Explaining about their methodology, they state, “We try to be accessible by taking part in exhibitions and providing private viewing. We also exhibit part of our collections at special occasions at some multi brand boutiques. But we mainly we do photo-shoots of our collection, so that we can share pictures of our designs on social media.”