Two years ago, Alisha Hasan decided to realise her dream, which many thought was a tad grandiose. She established a fashion company named Dreams & Doors that manufactures ecological sportswear in the UK – and has decided to make it big.
The thought had been smouldering in her for years: active in tennis and rowing in her student years, she wanted clothes which would make a sporty woman look classic and chic. The existing markets failed to respond to her need to look elegant and feminine in sportswear.
“I want to offer people outfits that they can easily wear for a bike ride into town and for a drink after their sports session,” Hasan says.
First fabrics, then designs
The company is just in its infancy, but Hasan believes she is uncovering a gold mine. According to her, there are currently no other manufacturers using similar organic fabrics in their sportswear lines.
Hasan designs her ecological sportswear pieces herself. The fabrics are imported from India and Turkey, among other countries, and the garments are produced in the UK. Hasan wants to support companies specialising in sustainable development and small British textile factories.
“The fabrics are either herb-dyed, i.e. totally chemical-free, or OekoTex-certified, which means that the minor amounts of chemicals used in their manufacture do not cause any detrimental impacts on the environment,” Hasan explains.
Producing ecological garments is neither low-cost nor easy. Due to the availability of the materials, Hasan needs to proceed in a reverse order compared to traditional fashion labels: she buys the fabrics first and then creates her designs, and not the other way round.
Target group: high-end sports clubs
Hasan describes her customer as a sporty career person aged 20 to 35 with an active life and a playful style. They are also quality-conscious and care about their health and the environment. Dreams & Doors is a luxury brand which enjoys a large potential customer base at British sports clubs.
“Also creating a men’s collection right off the bat was a strategic move, because market opportunities are certainly not in short supply when it comes to men’s fashion,” says Hasan.
The first collection was launched last summer and the pre-sales of the spring/summer 2015 collection have been growing steadily among both customers and distributors. As of early summer, Hasan’s garments will be sold in London’s high-end Equinox fitness clubs, and the network of co-operation partners was further expanded at the Ethical Fashion Show held in Berlin in January.
“We had booked several meetings with local eco-fashion retailers during the fair. The purchaser of the German store Phasenreich and the founder of the Monagoo distribution channel visited the fair just so they could meet our team,” Hasan says.
Finnish roots and global dreams
Raised in Finland, Hasan completed her Master’s degree in economic science in London. She thinks of the UK as her second home and lives in London. Establishing a company in the UK was a natural choice, as the largest markets for her products can be found outside of Finland.
However, it is important for Hasan to let her Finnish roots and the Scandinavian aesthetics shine through in her designs: in her future collection she intends to use reindeer leather produced in Finland for its quality and unique characteristics.
Hasan also wishes to collaborate with Finnish designers. She has already signed an agreement with Mari Kasurinen, an artist and graphic designer known internationally for her My Little Pony designs.
“Mari will design a new dedicated character for D & D’s future collection which will be targeted especially at Japan and South Korea. We want to create a new kind of Finnish design identity, one that is more global and focussed on detail,” Hasan says.
“One of my favourite print designers is Klaus Haapaniemi, who created the Taika range for Iittala. Each of his pieces tells a story. I want to achieve the same expression in my garments, and I’m not likely to run out of stories and wild ideas anytime soon,” Hasan says, laughing.Text: Mirja Vainio www.dreamsanddoors.com Good News From Finland