RAL Designs

Adapting traditional fabrics and inspired designs to contemporary tastes

RAL Designs
The funky designs of RAL Designs, incorporating traditional fabrics into a modern look (Photo: RAL Designs)
AMMAN — During the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns the sisters Laila and Rania Khatib, Laila an architect, and Rania an interior designer, were discussing the lack of “funky shirts” on the market and their inability to find something that matched their personalities, and wondered how they could enter the fashion industry.اضافة اعلان

In 2020, the two sisters launched RAL Designs where they designed unique pieces using color blocking and patterns. The concept was inspired by the RAL color matching system that defines colors for coatings, paints, and plastics. RAL was created and is administrated by German RAL GmbH, which is a subsidiary of the German RAL Institute.

“Establishing RAL Designs was a whim. Some of our friends heard us talking about it and they encouraged us and guided us to a few places where we could buy our materials from,” Laila Khatib, co-founder of RAL Designs, told Jordan News.

She said that they started with shirts and then started doing jeans jackets. In those designs, they were using one of the most significant signs of Jordanian culture, the keffiyeh or “hatta”, a traditional Middle Eastern headdress. The sisters decided to integrate this component of Jordanian culture into their designs in a contemporary way. 

The funky designs of RAL Designs, incorporating traditional fabrics into a modern look (Photos: RAL Designs)

“The Jordanian hatta is used in a very traditional way. The whole idea behind RAL Designs is to add the fabric you love on to another fabric. We just wanted to modernize it a little bit,” Khatib said.

RAL Designs not only use fabrics they can buy from shops, but also recycle fabrics they find. L. Khatib said that they noticed that the fashions of the 70s and 80s were making a come back nowadays.

“During the lockdown, we helped our mother to reorganize her wardrobe and found an old dress that she liked. We did not want to throw it out as it was of great quality, there was also a story behind it. So, we took the fabric and reused it in a modern way,” L. Khatib said. Her architectural background kindled her interest in sustainability and green design and construction, as such recycling came as second nature.

Before creating RAL Design, Khatib established Lilac Boutique, through which she used to import most of the materials she used from outside Jordan, but soon the high cost of shipping made her look for local alternatives. 

The funky designs of RAL Designs, incorporating traditional fabrics into a modern look (Photos: RAL Designs)

During the pandemic many local designers started working and had good quality products.

“My way of thinking shifted toward supporting local business. For instance, I buy hatta from a man who owns a small business in downtown Amman. This way I can support locals and their families as well,” Khatib said.

“It was really good to support him and other small local businesses. The idea is to support local businesses while doing something we enjoy as sisters and that people like,” she added.

RAL designs does not only support local businesses, it also supports local artists, they work with Saleh Mansour, a Jordanian architect and artist, passionate about urban sketching and paintings that represent cities. 

The funky designs of RAL Designs, incorporating traditional fabrics into a modern look (Photos: RAL Designs)

One of the challenges RAL Designs is facing in finding the necessary materials is availability and consistency. “If we liked a fabric, we cannot find it all the time,” she said.

“My sister and I are into the design world as this is what we studied. So, we follow many accounts on social media that are about architecture, interior designs, and fashion and we get inspired by them,” Khatib said.

“The idea is to make something local, something that reflects our traditions and culture that would get people wearing them and talking about Jordan,” she added 

The funky designs of RAL Designs, incorporating traditional fabrics into a modern look (Photos: RAL Designs)

RAL Designs supports the idea that each person is unique, that is why they do not make similar pieces and why each piece is different from the others. “Each piece we design speaks to a specific person, whether through its colors or its patterns. Each individual can wear our pieces in their own way,” Khatib said, adding that the pieces they design also tell a story about Jordanian and Palestinian culture.

The army jacket collection is one of RAL Design’s collections that people liked. The idea behind this collection came to Khatib after she saw a girl wearing an army jacket, and she decided to try designing army jackets differently. “At first we were afraid from the reactions to this collection, so we only designed two jackets. We then got positive reactions to the jackets which made us design more jackets,” she said.

The biggest supporter of RAL designs is the Khatib sisters’ mother, as she has a piece from each collection they have made, and she talks of her daughters’ designs to people outside Jordan.  

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