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Interview: Mochi

It is not often that I spot an item of clothing so legitimately breath-taking that I must have it right now. And I am not talking about a couture gown or show-stopper coat- I am referring to beautiful and unique everyday pieces that appeal to my sensibilities and sense of style.

The thing about personal style is that you have to have the confidence to invest in what inspired you, rather than feel the need to adhere to trends all the time. I love Mochi; the Dubai-based design brand ticks all the boxes for me.

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Founder Ayah Tabari, was born in Riyadh, raised in Amman, studied in London before she finally settled in Dubai. During her many travels she fell in love with the many ancient textiles and traditional embroidery techniques she found along the way. And so Mochi was born out of the desire to take these ancestral techniques and transform them into modern, wearable and INCREDIBLE products.

Ayah has a cracking eye for design, and for bringing out the most of her exclusive fabrics. Embellished crop-tops, sweeping shoulder capes and flowing skirts all have a very distinct aesthetic without being costumey or over the top. The textiles are sourced from all over the world, from Thailand to Hungary, but with Ayah’s curatorship they flourish into dream pieces, with just the right amount flair!

And she’s not afraid to experiment. Over the years Mochi has branched out into a range of distinct collections inspired by countries where Ayah sources her textiles, as well as accessories ranging from clutches to rucksack, and a children’s line- Mini Mochi!

Chiara Ferraigni and Leandre Medine are fans, as per their Instagram feeds, and I challenge you to have a look at Mochi’s shopping page and not fall in love as well.

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I spoke to Ayah a little while ago about All Things Mochi and about all the things that inspire her to create unique pieces and invest in traditional textiles.

-Tell me a little about the company’s history. When was it founded and where?

Mochi was born to support stitching communities worldwide and all started about 5 years ago when I was on a trip to Goa with my girlfriends.

I was walking through the streets one day and noticed some mirrored bags glistening in the street; I instantly fell in love, as I had never seen anything quite like it before.  I bought one bag and then after decided I might be onto something so ordered 200 to be shipped to my house in Dubai.

When the bags finally arrived I didn’t know what to do with them so I just put them in my Mum’s garage where they lay for 2 years. One afternoon, I decided to go down there and fish them out – seeing all the beautiful colours reminded me how much I had believed in the product so I decided to organize a sale for my family and friends. The bags sold out and now confirming I was onto something Mochi begun!

-What was the inspiration behind Mochi?

The Art of Embroidery is my main inspiration for All Things Mochi and it was the brand is now known globally for.

For each collection I take inspiration from my travels as well what stage I am at in my personal life at that particular moment in time. For example for the Jaipur Collection – I was still young and the collection was very fresh; Thailand – was more sophisticated but still young with lots of colour but withheld sharper silhouettes. Hungary I designed when I had just got engaged so there is definitely a sense a romance and lust which features throughout, Palestine and Uzbekistan were both after my wedding and I think portray a sense of maturity.

-How do you find and source your incredible fabrics? Are they all handmade?

Yes, they are all hand embroidered and it usually takes around 10 days to source and find the fabrics. I start by researching the different countries and pick one for the collection and then go and travel round meeting the stitching communities, once I have chosen one we go from there.

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-What is the best thing about Mochi as a company/brand?

Every day is different and you never know what it is going to throw at you, but I would say the best thing is the moment in you see your drawing go from a design to an actual sample piece – it’s the favourite part of my job! On the other side it is fascinating and amazing to see how we have now changed so many embroiderers way of life through supporting their stitching communities, it just makes me want to work harder to continue to be able to do this!

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The philanthropic part of Mochi is definitely the most rewarding part. I did not feel these amazing stitching communities were being supported for their incredible work, so I wanted to make a change. I have now worked with over five different stitching communities providing them all with not only monetary benefits but also a lifestyle change, which has come from our continuous support. Not only do we support stitching communities but we also believe very strongly in the empowerment of women, and this year partnered with the Women’s Global Empowerment Fund for Valentines Day to create ten limited edition pieces where all the proceeds went to the charity. The Women’s Global Empowerment Fund provide the less fortunate with benefits and education, in hope they can pursue the career path they wish to follow.

-How has the company grown over the years?

We are still a very small team, so it hasn’t changed that much, but we are growing steadily so I can continue to concentrate on evolving the brand the designs.

-Lots of high-profile bloggers (Leandra Medine, Chiara Ferraigni) have Instagrammed pictures wearing Mochi. What is that like for the brand? Do you see a surge in interest when that happens?

It is very rewarding and hugely influential to have such big names from the fashion world wearing our products, I still can’t believe Man Repeller, Chiara and Cara D wore it J Regarding the after effect yes, there is always a huge interest in what they are wearing but the exposure you get is just phenomenal so of course we accommodate the best we can.

-Do you have any tips to nail Mochi’s boho-chic style this summer?

Keep it simple, pair any of our sets or overall dresses with a pair of converse or biker boots this summer to get the perfect boho look.

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