With online shopping, people have access to luxurious brands around the globe and MATCHES is one of the main characters in this market. We met Liane Wiggins (Head of Womenswear) for an interview during a weeklong pop-up experience at M7. Here is what she shared with us.

“It is easy to look left and right when developing a successful brand, but keeping focused on its core DNA is essential. Look at the competition, but don’t let it distract you.”

— Liane Wiggins

The fashion scene in Qatar is setting the stage for the field in the region. MATCHES (an online luxury destination for men and women delivering to over 170 countries) brought their concept to Doha to showcase their apparel and accessories curation. It was a weeklong pop-up experience at M7, the design and innovation hub in the heart of Msheireb Downtown Doha. The activation was intended as part of Fashion Trust Arabia (FTA) 2023 that was postponed this year.

The setup included curated selections from established brands, such as ROKSANDA, Erdem, Taller Marmo and Rohe, new designer showcases, and exclusive items from the latest autumn and winter 2023 collections. Visits to the pop-up happened through private tours and attentive input from the MATCHES team. The company also hosted a series of private events and personal shopping consultations.

In this scenario, OHLALA had the opportunity to chat to Liane Wiggins, Head of Womenswear at MATCHES. She talks about the partnership with Qatar Creates – the year-round cultural movement and platform for arts and culture in Qatar – and working in this interesting industry.

OHLALA – How did you enter the fashion world, and what do you like most about your profession?
Liane Wiggins –
Growing up, my dad worked in both luxury and high-street retail and my mum ran her own textile design business. The combination of the two influenced me greatly and ultimately led me to work in this field. Early in my design degree, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in buying; I had always loved the industry and was (and still am) fascinated by what drives customers, particularly women, and how this evolves over different life stages. I started at MATCHES as an intern and have worked in various departments across the business over the years before becoming Head of Womenswear (Ready To Wear). When I first joined, I worked directly with the founders, Tom and Ruth Chapman. A few years after, the online business was launched. It was a new and exciting time for luxury retail and MATCHES. It was the best education and training, understanding how the luxury customer shopped online and how to build an innovative luxury platform.

OHLALA – What key points would you highlight in your role? Any tips?
Liane –
At this point in my career, I still love discovering new brands and great products. I love working with such a wide variety of aesthetics and having the opportunity to advise brands on how to build their businesses and develop products in the right way for retail. I am lucky to work with such an amazing team; in my role, I work with all levels of the business to develop the best buying strategy and how to translate this across all the different touchpoints. The most important qualities in a great buyer are an extraordinary love for the product and a passion for sourcing – being aware of new emerging fashion trends and external factors that can impact how people shop. Being commercially minded and always thinking about the entire journey for the customer and being a fast decision maker, a great communicator and a negotiator. Developing and nurturing all types of relationships is crucial, from suppliers to designers and your team.

OHLALA – What, in your opinion, gives a brand the potential to succeed in the global market?
Liane –
Everything starts with the product, and strong product development is key to building a successful global brand. It is important to really understand price positioning and ensure there is a strong team to execute the best logistics, marketing, press and branding. It is crucial for brands to think about the customer demographic they are appealing to and to stick to it. It is easy to look left and right when developing a successful brand, but keeping focused on its core DNA is essential. Look at the competition, but don’t let it distract you.

OHLALA – How important is it to MATCHES to support new talents?
Liane –
At MATCHES, we are continually developing our edit to offer the best product and experience for every moment in our customers’ lives. Our clients enjoy the journey of discovery, so new talent is part of this; we search for brands with a strong product offering and the potential to scale and develop over time. We have supported many emerging brands over the years in their journey to becoming commercially strong brands in the luxury fashion industry.

OHLALA – How did this partnership with FTA start? What is MATCHES’ role?
Liane –
Since its inception, we have been proud partners of Fashion Trust Arabia – a first of its kind, unique philanthropic initiative. Our partnership with FTA is part of our commitment to championing emerging talent on a global level. We are delighted to have the opportunity to work alongside Tania Fares, the co-founder of FTA, and their exceptional team to support such a diverse range of designers across the MENA region. As part of our partnership, we provide a year-long mentorship programme to the winning designers across various departments of the business, from branding to communications, logistics and e-commerce, and provide guidance on how they can develop their business model in a way which stays true to them.

OHLALA – What message do you want to leave to MATCHES’ customers in Qatar?
Liane –
Having a personal approach has always been very important to us; we actually founded the business over 30 years ago with bricks-andmortar stores, but we have been able to evolve as a digital luxury business, integrating this point of view into everything that we do. We offer a global styling service, working with clients from Europe to the Middle East and beyond, offering sartorial advice and assistance around the clock. Our team keep our clients informed about the latest launches, from our incredibly rare curation of handbags (in partnership with Sellier) to our unique edit of established and new designers.

OHLALA – What do you like most or would highlight about Doha?
Liane –
What strikes me most is Doha’s dynamic fashion scene, blending tradition and innovation. The city’s commitment to promoting local and international designers and its dedication to the arts has put Doha on the global fashion map. Exploring M7, Qatar’s epicentre for innovation and entrepreneurship in design, fashion and tech, is at the top of my list! Our collaboration with M7 to bring the concept of our London retail space, 5 Carlos Place, to Doha, through an exclusive weeklong pop-up experience, proves Doha’s position as a fashion and design hotspot.


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