“….. the way that you dress reflects what you believe about yourself”
Sheikah Al Habshi’s desire to document her fashion journey evolved into a flourishing online business. Now designing quirky clothing inspired by the past, she believes that originality is the key to success.
Please introduce yourself to our readers:
Hello! My name is Sheikah Al Habshi. I am a young Kuwaiti designer, currently a student at KU studying Interior Architecture.
Tell us about your education:
Well, I graduated from high school here in Kuwait. I enrolled in fashion classes online and at school which is where I earned my BTEC in Garment Manufacturing. I’ve taken many short courses from schools like UAL and I’m currently studying online to get a Certificate in Fashion Essentials from Parsons, The New School.
How and when did you get interested in fashion?
My interest in fashion started back in 2013 when I started working towards my BTEC. I had always been interested in designing and working with my hands since I started knitting around the age of 9.
So would you consider yourself self-taught?
I have taken a few classes here and there in terms of making the clothes myself and learning the basics. However, I would never fully consider myself self taught as I’m always learning and aspiring to become better.
Who in your life has encouraged and supported your amazing designs? Did anyone or anything inspire them?
I’m blessed to have such a strong support team here in Kuwait. However, Ms Lynn Whyte who was my BTEC instructor has always been very supportive of my designs and always pushed me to the next level. I wouldn’t be where I am now without her; she’s taught me everything I know! My sisters are extremely supportive in terms of their guidance and believing in me when many did not. Lastly, having friends that are as goal oriented as I am changed the way I design and work and have truly been a huge inspiration.
What inspires you most?
I’ve always been inspired by the past and the way people used to dress; the simplicity and elegance of it all. Old movies and TV shows like Mad Men have been a huge influence on the way I dress and design.
How has your work evolved since you began designing?
A lot has changed since I first started designing and since I began to grow up and change as well. I am a firm believer in the way that you dress reflects what you believe about yourself and the way you want others to perceive you. So the way I began to design evolved the more I began to evolve as well. The way I design now is less focused on mass production and what everyone wants, but rather what I, as a designer, feel best represents my brand and who I am.
Tell us about your brand – what exactly do you create?
Well Coffee and Castoffs started off as a way to document my journey through design and fashion but as time went on it started growing into a small online business. This later became Coffee and Castoffs By Sheikah Al Habshi. I design vintage inspired and quirky clothing such as dresses and kaftans and I’m hoping to branch out even more through the upcoming collections. However, my signature pieces of the moment are my dresses.
How did you come up with the name for your brand/label?
Well, it was a spur of the moment thing. I was trying to come up with a name for a fun, easy going blog to document my work and Coffee and Castoffs just seemed to roll off the tongue so easily that I fell in love with it. A castoff is usually the last stitch on any knitted piece so that’s where I got the name.
Can you explain your design process from start to finish?
I usually find inspiration from day to day moments or issues that I see around me and usually start sketching them everywhere I go, constantly refining. Most of my textbooks are filled with tiny sketches of garments! Later on, I start draping the fabric on my mannequin and after that I start working on making the garment myself or talking to a local tailor for some help.
What are some of your favourite materials to work with?
My main materials are usually my sewing machine, my fabric and my mannequin.
What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
I’m currently very fascinated by nature and the idea of light and I’m trying to learn how to incorporate that into my designs. These are two elements I feel particularly safe and confident in, thus incorporating them into my designs will hopefully make the customer feel the same way wearing my designs.
What do you think is the key that makes one fashion designer successful?
Originality, definitely. In a world where everyone wants to just fit in, I believe that any successful designer stays true to his ideology and origins.
How would you describe your personal style?
Feminine, quirky and care-free.
Your all time favourite designer?
Ellie Saab and Zac Posen.
What’s next for you? What are your goals for the future?
I’m going to be designing my latest collection for fall/autumn which will hopefully be launching at the end of September.
Where are your designs available to buy?
All my designs are available on my Instagram @coffeeandcastoffs . My Instagram features my designs, the process, and all my other work revolving around art.
What advice would you give to young designers?
Being a young designer myself, I would urge them to take every opportunity that comes their way and always find new ways to learn. Also, find a community which understands your craft and supports it; through that encouraging environment, growth is always found.
Your message for our readers:
All I have to say is thank you for reading this interview and I hope you enjoyed what you read. If you would like to contact me for any sort of collaboration my inbox is always open!
Your message for the team at CP magazine:
Thank you so much CP Magazine for this incredible opportunity and for supporting local designers. Through these acts of encouragement we find more and more designers to celebrate.