We first discover Kay Li’s work while visiting the Tashkeel Studios in Dubai. Architectural with a quasi Nordic touch, Kay Li’s designs capture the essence of femininity with a twist. Meet the designer behind the brand.
Why did you choose to study in Dubai and establish your label there?
I came to Dubai with my husband 8 years ago. We have been moving around every few years in our early career years; from the US to Switzerland to the UK. However, this move felt very different to me. I had the sudden courage to finally pursue my dream and started studying Fashion Design and Pattern Making when I arrived in Dubai. The market here is still young and I felt that there was a lot of potential for growth.
How do you think it’s been different for you to work in the Middle-East rather than in your origin country of Hong Kong?
I alway say designers in HK are very lucky. In Hong Kong, we have an entire district filled with shops for fabrics and trims. There are small legacy workshops scattered around the city where you can get your samples and things done easily. It is convenient comparing to Dubai. Often time I find sourcing quite difficult here although I believe it is now much better than when i first started. Now we have the bi-annual textile-show which I find extremely helpful.
Dubai has a smaller fashion scene than in HK, it is almost like a cozy community. Working here in Tashkeel, it is nice to feel supported and have like-minded people to share our success-stories and challenges.
Would you say that the Middle-East is positioning itself as a new fashion destination?
Definitely! Many of the luxury brands are coming in the Middle-East, presenting their collections. They are working with local online influencers here to gain market penetration. On the other hand, we have very creative designers coming out from Dubai, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Middle East is certainly a place where old mix with the new. The Dubai Government has started many initiatives to promote Dubai as the next fashion capital, not just a retail heaven. Vogue Experience was held twice in Dubai showcasing local emerging designers to an international audience and also brought in young international talents to the Middle-Eastern market. Dubai is still in its infancy stage when it comes to fashion style but give it room and time and i am sure it will blossom.