Fatima Mahmood
  • Female
  • Edinburgh
  • United Kingdom

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Profile Information

Profession / role:
Designer/Creative Director
Company / organisation:
Ala Mairi
Website (if you have one):
My primary role in relation to fashion is:
I am looking to discover or buy
Inspiration and consumers
About me / About business or organisation:
Bespoke and exlusive womenswear which are sourced through sustainability and colabarating with artisans in Scotland and Pakistan.
Career history / Company history:
Ala Mairi began with a desire to fulfill a purpose in my life. I was born and brought up in Lahore, Pakistan and came to Scotland when I was 19 after I married my lovely husband. I instantly fell in love with the rugged landscapes and traditional Scottish heritage.

I always wanted to work in fashion and textiles but wasn’t quite sure how to pursue this dream. Then one night I watched a documentary on the dying art of hand weaving in Scotland- I was fascinated by this fine craftsmanship and immediately felt the need to help preserve it.

In an attempt to find out more about the dying skill of hand weaving, I travelled across Scotland and personally met with handloom weavers - who were mostly women. I was touched by their skill, creativity and passion.

In the summer of 2010 I collected samples of Harris Tweed fabrics and travelled to Pakistan. During this trip I ended up visiting a Women’s Welfare centre in Rawalpindi and was inspired by their intricate embroidery skills. I learnt about their social circumstances - these women came from hardship and poverty, yet they were utilising their craftsmanship and embroidery skills in order to sustain an income for their families.

I was inspired by the women of Rawalpindi and wanted to help them in some way. And then a solution came to me - why don't I mix these two cultures and traditions and create something altogether new and exciting? Why can’t I combine the intricate embroidery skills of the women in Rawalpindi with the lace and tweed makers in Scotland?

Firstly, I came up with a sample collection which infused the skills from each culture. I then realised I needed to develop my entrepreneurial skills to fully understand the world of fashion and see what was possible. After a lot of research and applications I was selected for the ‘Starter for Six' programme – run by the Cultural Enterprise Office which provides the training needed to build a social enterprise. I can honestly say without their support and expertise and especially the help of Fiona Chaurad I don’t think Ala Mairi would be where it is today. (Initial idea started to Mairi: Management to Accomplish Ingenuinty and Reinforce Integrity. We added Ala infront of Mairi- when we wanted to incorporate Pakistani culture- Add link to CEO?)

Ala Mairi has been a special and spiritual journey for me where I have a purpose in my life. I have given my all and grown in so many ways- as a mother, wife, designer and entrepreneur. I wanted to find ways to showcase the work of these skilled artisans while also supporting their livelihood and giving these women a meaning to their lives. Sometimes I feel Ala Mairi chose me, as I have now found a deep satisfaction in my life which has allowed me to accomplish so much through the enterprise.

Ala Mairi is more than a fashion label - it runs deeper than that. It comes from the passion and skill of our artisans. It's not a charity either. Our artisans are working, generating a sustainable income and improving their quality of their lives while producing beautiful works of art. Ala Mairi is about empowering these individuals by giving their often silenced talents a voice and platform within the influential world of fashion. I want my customers to feel that every time they wear an Ala Mairi product they are helping advocate the Ala Mairi ethos.

Fatima Mahmood's Blog

A Gift Guide for Mother’s Day by Ala Mairi Finding your mum a gift which shows just how precious and unique she is can be difficult – that’s why we at Ala Mairi have chosen our favourite pieces…

Posted on February 24, 2015 at 10:42 0 Comments

A Gift Guide for Mother’s Day by Ala Mairi

Finding your mum a gift which shows just how precious and unique she is can be difficult – that’s why we at Ala Mairi have chosen our favourite pieces so you can give…


Ala Mairi: A cross-cultural twist

Posted on February 12, 2015 at 14:49 0 Comments

I often get asked how I come up with Ala Mairi’s innovative and unique designs. And I always give the same answer: it’s all down to our cross-cultural design process.

I started Ala Mairi with a vision to combine the intricate embroidery skills of Pakistan’s craftswomen with the traditional hand-looming weaving, an art integral to Scottish history and heritage.

The creation of each Ala Mairi garment begins with the inspiration I find around me-whether its Shetland’s…


Fashion with a conscience: Ala Mairi, fashion brand and social enterprise, launches second collection

Posted on October 23, 2014 at 11:00 0 Comments

Ala Mairi launches its second collection of luxury ethical garments.

The collection is inspired by ‘Fair Isle’ and ‘Shetland lace’. In 2011, founder and designer, Fatima Mahmood travelled to the Scottish highlands in search of independent handloom weavers and lace makers. It was there where she witnessed the intricacy and detail of the artisans work, and, indeed it was this research that helped instigate the creation of the Ala Mairi brand. The memory has resulted in the dream-like…


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