Towards the end of 2020, after years of dreaming and planning, Mariam El Sheikh, Class of 2021, launched her clothing brand Meridiem
. Meridiem, which is the Latin word for glow, aims to represent the strong yet graceful woman.
El Sheikh had been aspiring for this moment for years. Her love for fashion pervades all areas of her life, a constant no matter where she found herself or what she was doing. She jokingly credits The Devil Wears Prada as the genesis for some of her present-day enthusiasm, having watched the film almost every day of the week at the age of nine.
“I have a deep admiration for how fashion can allow the process of human expression to remarkably flourish in terms of identities, values, ideas, revolutions or other aspects of life,” shared El Sheikh. “It can encourage grace and growth. It can be a tool to help you live life to the fullest, stay adventurous, curious and even conscious. It certainly was for me.”
The brand, whose logo contains the alchemy symbol for phosphorus, is meant to promote ethical purchasing and to encourage people to move away from fast fashion
. The pieces in her Fall/Winter collection are all produced in small quantities, with special attention paid to quality and sustainability.
El Sheikh also worked to ensure that packaging remained recyclable and compostable and wants to maintain a “fully traceable supply chain from sourcing to finished product.” El Sheikh wants to continue to produce and source sustainably even as Meridiem continues to grow.
“There’s definitely something about wearing a piece that makes you feel special, one that you know you can make your own rather than fearing the possibility that so many other people will be wearing the same thing at your next event,” El Sheikh pointed out.
El Sheikh is graduating with a major in Social Research and Public Policy and minors in Creative Writing and Business of Entertainment, Media and Technology from NYU New York. Her experiences at NYU Abu Dhabi and across different global network sites have taught her valuable skills. She credits her ability to balance multiple responsibilities to the demanding academic rigor and busy life at NYUAD. She also credits numerous classes as the catalyst for her creative process.
“I think I definitely get more inspired by a feeling. I always try and envision how I want the woman wearing my pieces to feel and go from there,” El Sheikh shared, providing insights into the creative process she mentioned. “When creating a collection, I usually end up drifting towards a specific style of prints or patterns and a color palette, which I then use to create a mood board. At this point, the sketches of the designs start flowing in. I can draw and redraw a million times before I feel I get it right. I create multiple versions of the same design, turning a dress into a top, or a bomber to a blazer. When I reach that sweet spot, I can feel it straight away.”
Photo Courtesy of Mariam El Sheikh
The response to El Sheikh’s Fall/Winter collection exceeded her expectations and she received a wave of positive feedback from shoppers. People enjoyed their pieces and the content shared on her Instagram.
When asked about her favorite piece of clothing from the collection, El Sheikh likened it to picking between her children. She finally settled on the Catch the Blues Denim Jacket
“It makes me feel powerful when I put it on. It can also be styled so versatilely. I find myself wearing it with leather boots on a night when I want to look different and put together, but also throwing it on top of sweats and sneakers on a casual day,” she explained.
The brand will soon be both stocked online and in boutiques in Cairo, Dubai and Canada, a testament to El Sheikh’s dedication to expanding her work. Her Spring/Summer collection will be released soon, although, for the moment, she is keeping the designs and inspiration a secret.
Mari Velasquez-Soler is Senior News Editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.