Meet the man who created UAE’s first homegrown luxury brand

Khalid Basaeed tells EDGAR how more UAE brands can follow in his successful footsteps.

July 19, 2016

Khalid Basaeed is an Emirati entrepreneur and the founder of Feathers, UAE’s first homegrown luxury brand. Here, he tells us how he helps his rivals, what mistakes he made in the early days of the business and why he chose an English name for an Arabic brand.  

Why do you think it’s taken so long for an Emirati luxury brand to come along?

The issue with the Middle East is that we don’t have the expertise in manufacturing like there is in Europe. If you want to make a watch you go to Switzerland, for pens you go to Germany. Maybe this stops people here in the Middle East.

Do you think more UAE brands will follow you?

Yes, there are initiatives to start other Emirati brands.

Are you helping them?

We receive requests for advice from young Emirati men and women on how to establish a brand. We try to help as much as we can, but we don’t reveal too much because that would be helping our competitor.

What did you tell these rivals?

The most important thing is to get the name right. It has to sound strong and be universal. The logo itself should be simple, something kids can draw. Lastly, you must strive for quality - you cannot fool people with cheap products.

Why choose an English name for your brand?

Our idea was to think internationally and we thought Feathers would be easier to pronounce than an Arabic name. We get criticised for having an English name because we are an Emirati brand. Some people actually made negative comments on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

Do you feel pride in representing the UAE?

Yes, very much. When we started out, the brand was called Feathers Fashion but I realised that we are representing the UAE and we had to get that across with our name, and so we changed the name to Feathers UAE.  Representing the UAE is an honour and also a responsibility because the quality of the product must be excellent.

What mistakes did you make in the early days of the business?

We started with a logo that was FF for Feathers Fashion. People told me it looked like the Fendi logo and that I should change it, but I stood firm. I later realised it was a mistake. People were not buying from us because they were worried the perception would be that are buying a Fendi copy. We changed the logo and sales picked up. A mistake’s not a mistake if you learn from it

What is the long term plan for Feathers UAE?

We are making women’s shoes, and maybe one day we’ll create kidswear. We might launch another brand quite soon with a different style, more colourful and artistic, celebrating Islamic patterns and Arabic calligraphy. I also want to open a Feathers luxury café.

Feather UAE has stores in Festival City Mall, Mall of the Emirates, City Centre Mirdif and Dalma Mall in Abu Dhabi.