Adam Irija: Fashionably Blending East with West

The UAE is truly the platform for blending East with West. When it comes to the world of fashion, Adam Irija is the perfect example.

Adam Irija is a Swedish designer from Stockholm. Taking a leap of faith outside his comfort zone, the suave young designer has established himself as a creator of stunningly beautiful abayas (the gracefully modest dress worn by Arab women).adam irija designer interview

Adam is a qualified architect. A chance encounter with fashion led him to apprentice with a house of fashion for over 8 years. This helped Adam strengthen his wings, and he soon took flight into the colorful, magical world of fashion.

Today we talk to Adam about his journey into fashion, how he seamlessly blends East with West, and what he believes every fashionable person should have in their wardrobes.

Designing for the first time in Middle East has been very challenging and interesting as it has led me to think how to bring a new energy to a beautiful, traditional and respected outfit. says the Swedish designer Adam Irija.

Adam Irija’s Spring Summer 2015 collection is a blend of straight and wavy cuts that represent a blend of solid, straight structures from Adam’s Scandinavian heritage, and the wavy, erratic nature of desert dunes in the East.

The collection is infused with vivid sky blues, majestic purples and pure white, all set on the traditional backdrop of a black abaya.

The snake motif is a prominent feature of this collection. For centuries, snakes have been a symbol of fertility and continual renewal of life, and Adam uses this mythology to add drama and meaning to the pieces along with pearls which represent the ‘modern woman’.

This collection draws inspiration from East and West, modern and tradition, a true invitation to travel through continents, myths & legends. – Fashion Designer Adam Irija

adam irija spring summer 2015 abaya design collection

You started your career in architectural engineering. What brought you to fashion?

My passion for fashion. I believe there are only two ways of looking at life: to secure a job and survive from its income, or to wake up every day with lots of love and excitement. There is nothing better than doing what you love and I am kind of lucky to be able to live my passion.

Do you have any formal training in fashion?

I have worked for 8 years with a fashion designer back in Sweden before launching my label. You can say that I have got my training on the field. I don’t know if it gets more formal than that!

Given fashion design is a form of constructing in itself, how did your background in architectural design influence your creations?

Architecture has definitely influenced me while designing. They are both based on lines, volumes and structure. If you have a look at my first collection of Abaya, it is a juxtaposition of different cuts, which is probably related to my architectural background.

adam irija fashion design

Being Swedish, what made you consider designing abayas?

I saw it as a challenge. The first time I saw ladies in Abayas, I was overwhelmed by their elegance and the way they carry themselves while wearing it. It is amazing how such a simple piece can make you look so glamorous.

Your creations have a unique blend of East and West. Please explain how you have taught yourself about Eastern motifs, and how you manage to seamlessly blend it with your Westernized taste and form.

To be honest, I did not think of it.

I imagined a collection that can be worn by both Eastern and Western women. I wanted the Abaya to be at the same time a dress with a full respect to the traditional Abaya. A lot of my Swedish friends called it a dress; and when seen here, it was clearly seen as an Abaya.

Which Eastern myths and legends feature most prominently in your designs?

I am a big fan of mythology, especially Greek and Roman. I think it does influence me a lot in my design process.

How do you go about choosing a color palette? Is it greatly seasonal, or what happens to be fashionable at the time?

The color palette is always related to the collection and its inspiration. For example in the latest collection “Oriental Snow” I choose to blend very vibrant colors with black and white, to represent the contrast between East and West.

From all your creations, which one piece has been your favorite and why?

My first Abaya. It was a total rejuvenation for me and my way of looking at design. I felt that it was like designing for the first time and when I saw the result, it was like a kid in front of his first drawing.

Please describe your own personal style. Has this influenced your creations?

I think I have a very strong Scandinavian taste. I love outfits to be kept simple, straight and minimalist. My creations are definitely a part of who I am.

If you could dress a celebrity, who would it be? What would you make her wear?

Definitely Olivia Palermo, she is classy, beautiful, and has a strong sense of style. I would love to create a contrasting look between “a la garçonne” with a white structured shirt’ and a very lady like look with a  50’s inspired black skirt to give volume to the bottom. I would style it with a pair of black high heels and a white clutch.

olivia palermo fashion design

List 5 items you believe every woman should have in her wardrobe.

  • A pair of jeans (boyfriend, slim, straight…) as Mr. Saint Laurent used to say, jeans are “the best invention ever”.
  • A white t-shirt. It goes with absolutely everything and can be accessorized easily.
  • A black blazer or a biker jacket.
  • A classic designer bag, probably the only piece you won’t ever regret investing in.
  • A pair of COMFORTABLE heels, it gives you elegance and style.
  • A simple black dress, short or long as per body shape and taste.

And 5 items every man should have in his wardrobe?

  • A pair of Italian classic shoes.
  • Chinos in brown, beige or blue.
  • A tailored suit in black/dark blue or grey.
  • The perfect jeans.
  • White shirt (I personally can’t live without this).

Designing is a part of me, I am constantly conceiving and imagining. Designing is not a position or a role. Designing is a feeling. – Fashion Designer Adam Irija

Follow Adam Irija on Instagram @Adam_irija to see more of his fascinating creations. For orders and availability, call +971558708370.

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