A view of Maison Orient's homepage

EAST MEETS WEST: Dubai-based Ayse Arel Kulahcioglu spent several years helping Western brands grow their presence in the Middle East, and now she wants to bring little-known, high-end artisanal brands from other parts of the world to consumers, who are increasingly looking for different, authentic products.

That is the concept behind Maison Orient, the online platform she launched early in September, offering creative mid- to high-end labels. “These brands are really not represented worldwide, I wanted to create a platform for them,” explained the executive, who in the past worked at Kenzo in Paris, Harvey Nichols in Istanbul and Boutique 1 in Dubai. “These countries are very rich in terms of brands.”

So far, the site offers 40 ready-to-wear, accessories and jewelry labels from the Middle East and Africa, with 15 more to be added soon. In the longer term, Arel would like to add labels from Asia, too.

“I look at the stories of the brands, and what makes them different. Some of them have social causes,” she explained. “A lot of people are surprised that such great designers come out of these countries.”

The web site ships worldwide, with prices ranging from $80 to around $1,500.

Arel also plans to bring the concept to the real world with pop-ups in the works with major department stores, starting in Dubai later in the year.

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