Leila Al-Habbal, the Founder and Managing Director of Lokal, is at the forefront of supporting the flourishing fashion ecosystem in the MENA region through her Saudi-based e-commerce marketplace.
Lokal serves as a pivotal platform for Arab designers, filling a significant gap in the market for quality ‘made in MENA’ fashion. Al-Habbal’s brainchild is a unique one-stop-shop exclusively dedicated to Arab brands, functioning as a decentralized platform that not only showcases and sells independent Arab designers’ creations but also shares their stories with consumers.
The journey began 15 years ago for Al-Habbal, who, inspired by the beauty and craftsmanship of Arab brands, questioned the prevailing trend of shopping abroad. A decade ago, she initiated The Lokal Pop Up Shops to spotlight noteworthy brands, and when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Lokal transitioned into the digital realm.
Creating a decentralized website from scratch proved to be one of Al-Habbal’s significant challenges, taking two years to complete. The result is a thriving digital marketplace empowering emerging Arab designers to connect with a global audience.
Lokal supports designers by providing a platform for showcasing and selling products, actively marketing for them, and driving traffic to the website. Al-Habbal emphasizes the importance of monitoring consumer behavior and adapting strategies based on data.
To enhance the e-commerce journey, Lokal continually improves its digital space, integrates with multiple shipping couriers, and ensures competitive pricing. The goal is to provide logistics and infrastructure for a seamless transactional environment, allowing designers to focus on their creative expertise.
For Arab brands, Lokal offers a means to retain independence and share both products and narratives directly with consumers. Fashion enthusiasts gain access to unique, “local” designs that often hold special significance due to the limited production volume.
Supporting the region’s fashion ecosystem is a vital mission for Al-Habbal, who envisions cultivating a retail revolution and celebrating the beauty and diversity of the Middle East and North Africa’s aesthetic production. She aligns Lokal with Vision 2030 and aspires to collaborate with The Saudi Fashion Association to onboard more talented Saudi designers.
Additionally, sustainability is a core value promoted by Lokal, with many of the brands already adopting eco-friendly approaches. Leila envisions a promising future for Lokal, aiming to be recognized as the go-to fashion hub for MENA brands in the next five years. With a passionate team and a commitment to supporting unique designers, she envisions Lokal as the first choice for those seeking distinctive fashion from the Middle East.