In recent years, the rich cultures of the Arab Gulf have been integrating with the transformations of the modern age at an unprecedented rate.
The work of the region's entrepreneurs and startups is clear proof of just that. One of them is Third Culture Co, a fashion brand with "a mission to open dialogue through conceptual design, in wearable art."
The brand officially launched last year and has since seen significant success. We spoke to its founder, Shaima Shamsi, and here's what she told us about the vision behind her company's projects and her plans for the future.
On the brand's concept
When asked to tell us more about the concept behind the unique fashion brand, Shamsi said:
"We wanted to create a brand which focused on conceptualism through art and design. We're focused on translating concepts into a tangible product, inspired by people, places, and cultures, to look beyond the naked eye and feel more connected to the riches of our histories. Realizing we are all experiencing the same world through our individual journeys."
On the inspiration behind Third Culture Co's projects
What inspires the projects that have recently been launched under the brand are concepts familiar to all Arab millennials.
"Third Culture Co takes inspiration from the beauty in cultural diversity, the exploration in innovation through heritage, and sustainability from the perspective of global citizens. Being reflective of the nostalgia we so deeply feel in the 21st century, appreciating where we are whilst carrying with us all the places we have been to," Shamsi told us.
She also explained that all the products created under the brand come in line with a philosophy that aims to reflect the region's history.
On the brand's launch
Sharing the incredible story and journey behind the brand's launch, Shamsi said:
"We officially launched our first project in February 2017 at an art gallery in Bahrain, showcasing our first conceptual collection hung on jute ropes swinging in Hiraeth.
Unwrapping conversation through artisanal clothing; with handwork from India, tailoring from Pakistan, finishing in Saudi Arabia and official launch in Bahrain, as a marriage between the search for home through multitudes of culture."
When asked about the aim behind Third Culture Co's projects, fashion collaborations, and art installations, she explained:
"Our collaborations have led us to meet and work alongside some of the most affluent creatives in the region. With them, we had the privilege of translating our concepts into wearable art. They have also facilitated the element of unity within the creative industry in the region. Our art installations are a new model in community engagement which we are still testing to see. Since our collections are conceptual, it is important for people to engage with them."
On the message Third Culture Co aims to send
We asked Shamsi to tell us more about the message she aims to send via her fashion brand and to that she responded by saying:
"I want to create thought-provoking concepts that resonate with the way our world is shaped today. I like working with traditional arts and artists to innovatively explore the nostalgic lives we live, sprouted by all that we feel through our journey. Realizing individually we may be alone, but collectively we are all experiencing the same world through different dimensions."
Sharing words of wisdom that inspired her work with young Arab entrepreneurs, Shamsi said:
"Collaboration is the new competition."
On upcoming projects and the brand's future
Revealing one of Third Culture Co's upcoming projects, Shamsi said:
"We have a very exciting collaboration coming out soon that explores the concept of 'unity through diversity' in a scarf. It uses digital print and we can’t wait for everyone to experience it."
When asked where she sees her homegrown brand in the next five years, she added:
"Third Culture Co is constantly transforming and we are grateful to have made it this far. We are currently exploring a long-term project as a short film and potentially a book in the future; discovering people from across the globe and their sentiments towards the feeling of 'home and identity.'"
The exciting project also aims to braid its subjects' "words into tangible products of self-identity" and form "a catalog of short biographies, portraits, and attires of each individual."