Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Following the launch of its inaugural fashion incubator program, Qasimi Rising, with an aim to support emerging designers, London-based label Qasimi unveils the first set of winners to receive 3 years of funding and 10 years of mentorship.

Staying true to the brand’s Middle Eastern heritage, the competition took place as part of Sharjah Biennial — a large-scale contemporary art exhibition taking place every two years in the city of Sharjah, UAE, spearheaded by Qasimi’s creative director, Hoor Al Qasimi.

According to Al Qasimi, the next phase in Qasimi’s journey is far beyond “selling more clothes.” Having taken over the label from her late twin brother, Khalid Al Qasimi, who founded the inclusive brand, Al Qasimi will be focusing on championing creativity in fashion: “Legacy is not just about what you leave behind. It’s also what you do going forward.”

London-based Sudanese designer Omer Asim and Lebanese designer Salim Azzam were declared winners of the incubation prize, which includes access to a multi-brand wholesale showroom in London as well as the brand’s e-commerce platform, in addition to tailored mentorship/support from Qasimi directly.

Azzam’s hand-embroidered, artisan clothing elevates the heritage of Lebanon with contemporary silhouettes. “It is all about reviving and reimagining the skills of the artisan community in Lebanon,” says Azzam of his eponymous brand he founded 7 years ago. “Inspired by those women who use these crafts to express themselves, and inspired by where I come from, [the brand] pays homage to the humble habits of the people there.”

Asim, whose designs already sell at high-end department store Selfridges, is known for his draping and destructed, unraveled styles showcasing the inner works of each garment. “One of the things we are really interested in is how you interact with the garment and the process,” says Asim of the brand’s signature aesthetics. “When you have something moving about you, and you adjusting it to your taste or style? It’s a completely different body experience.”

Other finalists include Laura Pitharas, Alicia Robinson — AGR, and Sentire Studio by Saleh Kelarge. Although Al Qasimi has declined to confirm the exact funding to be received by the new winners, most finalists consider the mentorship to be the most valuable to the growth of their brands.

“We need help in terms of the production side, so that we can keep growing, and I also want to bring in mentoring to do with brand strategy,” says Robinson of AGR, a quintessential London brand that has been seen on Lewis Hamilton, Nicki Minaj, and Rita Ora. “Qasimi are experts in their fields. I also think it’s incredible what they are doing with the art foundation and fashion to bring it all together.”

Having only launched in December 2022, the program has attracted many talents globally, and could serve as an indicator of the artistic direction Qasimi is taking as a brand. According to Al Qasimi, Qasimi plans to incorporate more designs in collaboration with artists from different spheres, and will soon relaunch its e-commerce platform to accommodate its incubated brands, creating a digital space for them to build brand identity and sell products.

“There’s obviously room for more,” comments Al Qasimi in relation to other organizations in the field, such as Fashion Trust Arabia, and what Qasimi Rising can offer to young talents. “What we can bring in is the artistic side, the creative side, the craftsmanship, a focus on sustainability and community, to really think about the designers and fashion in terms of artists and creatives, rather than just business makers.”

For more information about Qasimi Rising, see

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