Now one of the region’s favourite luxury boutiques, Boutique 1 was born from the vision of Lebanese owner Ziad Matta and his wife Lena. They first saw a gap in the fashion retail market in Dubai and wanted to change things. “We set about changing that gap when we opened our first boutique in 2003 in Emirates Towers,” says Matta. The concept has been pivotal in revolutionizing high-end fashion retail in the UAE and now has locations across the Middle East stocking over 200 luxury brands as well as an art gallery, a café and a specialized bookshop.
In celebration of the brand’s 10th anniversary this year, it’s worth remembering its avant-garde approach to fashion in the Middle East. Apart from introducing the first multi-brand store within the Middle East, Boutique 1 has also paved the way in creating the region’s first online store as well as presenting, for the first time in the region, many of the world’s most coveted and up-and-coming luxury brands.
“From the beginning we began with the categories of beauty, books and homeware because we noticed a gap in what was being offered,” says Matta. “It all fits nicely together now. We are passionate about the brands we carry and we want to transmit our enthusiasm to our customers so that they too can create outfits that they will wear and cherish.”
Among the boutique’s roster of designers are 3.1 Philip Lim, Alaïša, Carolina Herrera, Diane von Furstenberg, Elie Saab, Isabel Marant, Kenzo, Missoni, Oscar de la Renta, Proenza Schouler, Victoria Beckham and Alessandra Rich.
Such an inclusion of top brands combined with up-and-coming designers is part of Boutique 1’s overall vision. “From the beginning we have combined established brands that are well known and loved with new designers that we have helped introduce to the region,” says Matta. “We also spend a lot of time training our staff so that they can act more as stylists and pair items from different brands that customers may not necessarily have thought of.”
Apart from Boutique 1’s stellar range of fashion designers and mesmerizing locations, what makes the concept so successful is its international appeal. “We serve the world through our online store where we have a large number of customers from Australia, Europe, the U.S. and South America,” says Matta. “In fact, the majority of our customers online are from outside the Middle East. What makes me most proud today is to say that Boutique 1 competes with top international names – something that most local brands have not achieved.”
Matta explains how he is continuously approached to open stores outside the region, but doesn’t feel the need to do so yet. “We have a lot to do in the region and there is no rush,” he says. “We want to globally expand while continually catering to the Middle East – the birthplace of the brand.” And this is certainly what the brand has done – it has helped create a benchmark for fashion and luxury within a continually expanding and developing region.