Layan Al-Dabbous, a Kuwaiti girl who dreamt of conquering New-York City, created CLAUDETTE THE BRAND® while attending Parsons School of Design. During classes she would doodle the CLAUDETTE image then decided to take it to the streets of NYC. Claudette’s unique messages and street wear aesthetics have attracted top public figures within the underground urban scene. Fearless and determined, Layan wanted to bring the image of CLAUDETTE into the culture with a message of self-love and mental health awareness. We wanted to know more about the brand and had a quick chat with Layal about her business, Kuwait and her hopes for the future.
How did CLAUDETTE start, and how did you choose this name?
Claudette started when I was messing around with illustrator during a media studies class at The New School in New York City. I drew her using Adobe software and the character resonated with me right away. I knew Claudette was more than just a random doodle. She was wearing a beret, so I thought it would be cute to call her Claudette – shout out to the French : )
How do your Kuwaiti origins influence your work? What do you think about the current design scene in Kuwait?
Kuwait is a hub in the GCC where many original ideas are born. The country has introduced me to amazing graffiti, artists, poets, musicians, and food. Growing up in such a creative environment has deeply influenced me and Claudette The Brand.
At JDEED, we had a focus on Kuwaiti street-wear in our 3rd issue- it seems that it is truly trending in the country. Your brand has a street-wear aesthetic as well, does it come from personal style and references?
Growing up, I was always the kid that wore hoodies, graphic tees, and sneakers. Street style is essential to who I am. I love the comfort , but also the fact that I can express my personality through my wardrobe.
Who is the CLAUDETTE customer? Anyone you’d dream to dress or have dressed and were stoked about?
The Claudette customer is anyone not afraid to wear a hoodie to dinner and make it work. The Claudette customer is someone who wants to make a change, push boundaries, and use their voice whenever provoked. I dream of my brand empowering all youth. I want to dress them and create a community that values the principles I believe Claudette stands for.
You’ve been doing pop-ups in NYC, Miami, Kuwait, London…How were these experiences and meeting your clientele?
The pop-up in NYC was surreal because it was the first time I got to see how much the character has inspired people, it was very emotional. All the pop-ups have been amazing and people usually don’t want to leave because it’s such a cool vibe. The best part was just having conversations with the people. The right conversations can change the world. Your words can have a profound impact on someone more than you would ever know.
What are your hopes and goals for your brand?
We’re finishing the website, so my followers can purchase merch. I’m planning more pop-up events in cities throughout the world, and a potential Claudette web-based talk show to discuss topics like mental health and sexual assault. Stay up-to-date with every by following @claudettethebrand on Instagram : )
photography/Shervin Lainez (@Shervinfoto)