Emirati pride the ‘Caliente way’
A police officer, a PhD holder, and now designer, this is what your are met with when being introduced to Hamdan Al Samt, the founder and owner of Caliente, an Emirati brand specialized in designing, creating, and selling high end trucker caps.
It is worn by popular personalities, such as socialites around Dubai, fashion influencers, even younger Sheikhs such as His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Most recently, the brand signed a partnership agreement with the Emirati Al Wasl Sports Club to produce branded caps with the club’s logo.
When did you start Caliente – what urged you to create a business in this industry?
I’ve always been a fan of caps for as long as I remember, when the Von Dutch caps hit the market in the UAE they were probably the best out there and I used to collect a lot of them, then Ed Hardy came to Dubai and people were into caps more than ever.
During my stay in London for my PhD I felt that the caps scene started to fade away and I wanted something kind of new with my own personal touch and that’s when it hit me, why don’t I start my own business, introducing the caps business in the industry with unique designs and an Emirati touch that would suit men and women who are into caps just like I was.
The company was founded in 2011 but we officially went into business as a trade mark in 2012 and the rest is history.
Caliente seemingly continues to keep trucker caps at the core of the business, but has expanded to offer t-shirts and other accessories. When and why did you decide to expand into different products rather than continue with the caps only?
Caliente has introduced to GCC markets a new business and sector that is worth 100 of millions. Creating fashion trends, new jobs opportunities, opening stores, etc… We are proud that we have contributed to the country’s economy with 5 years old company in an industry that have been controlled by brands from all over the world.
Having had superseded the caps business being pioneers with that among the gulf, me and my associates thought why not complementing Caliente by venturing into fashion with Apparels.
Since 2015 we have been working on our Apparels yet With trusted sources, suppliers and dedicated team although we had no previous experience we managed to elevate the concept and started with our own sport casual wear which is something we are to focus on for now.
You take pride in being an Emirati brand, but – according to your website – you manufacture abroad. Why don’t you produce in the UAE?
As you are aware of in UAE we have limited access to raw materials specially when it comes to variety and controlled production as most UAE manufacturers requires more of steady business rather than small quantities which we faced at the beginning.
Due to business volume to compare with other industrial countries such as China & India; resources are limited therefore, we decided to produce our products with well-known factories that produces international brands as well. Considering cost price, experience & standards.
Where can Caliente products be found?
Beside our website www.caliente.ae which delivers worldwide, Caliente Caps can be found in Caliente Stores in Dubai & Abu Dhabi and in more than 25 Authorized Distributors around UAE & GCC such The Athlete’s Foot Stores across UAE.
Can you give us a breakdown of your client base?
Mainly young GCC Nationals followed by tangible number of Arabs & Europeans living in GCC, who are considered outgoing, energetic & Stylish.
We are mainly a Male purchased brand yet we have a growing females customers. Age group 12 to 60.
What were some of the challenges you faced at the start of your business and maybe still try to tackle today?
Challenge was to get the best quality and to have full control over items we are to produce. Starting from material selection to thickness, colors, styling and size grading.
As said challenges faces at start was positioning Caliente interms the of price and clientele. Apparels market segment is something we still debating. Today our challenge is beside setting a fashion wear trend; we pride ourselves for being a bench mark to new companies that are entering the market starting from style, designs that they follow to pricing strategy.
Many have stated that the UAE is pretty much the entrepreneurship haven in the MENA region. Do you agree?
Of course with such competitive environment, set of laws and policies in place; UAE have become the region’s Haven for entrepreneurs. UAE has always welcomed foreign investment and new ideas; thanks to our leaders vision and government support.
How do you assess the local brands’ scene in the UAE? We see many brands but they are mostly high-end and only a handful have “exploded” or became known outside closed circles. Why do you think that is?
Because they are not doing it the “Caliente way”…. Frankly I see the local brand scene very promising, there are quite few brands that did make it to international shows & events while others are already present in Markets such as Paris, London, New York. Every brand and team behind it has their own goals and objectives according to their vision which we highly respect.
What does the future hold for Caliente? What are your future plans?
More opportunities to fulfil, expanding Caliente to new markets & to be a wellknown brand recognized within the fashion industry “lifestyle casual wear”
Describe to us an average Hamdan Al Samt day, from the moment you wake up till you go back to sleep?
Shower – pray – Coffee – Work – meetings – gym/polo – Family –Friends – TV – Sleep
What does the future hold for Caliente?
In terms of Caliente, building up the brand globally as I hope to open a Caliente flagship store with full range of products including (Clothing – Accessories – Shoes) – also we are hoping in expanding our branches in the gulf in countries like Qatar & Kuwait & Internationally we are looking forward to introduce Caliente in the United States.
One thing that you can’t leave home without?
It shouldn’t be obvious but definitely a Caliente Cap
If not the founder of Caliente, what/where would you be?
Before becoming a businessman I had and still have the honor in serving my country as a Dubai Police Officer
Perfect retirement destination?
Between my beautiful city Dubai & Saint Tropez
Three words friends and family use to describe you?
Ambitious • Dreamer • Adventurous
New Year’s resolution?
Caliente going Global
One routine you think makes you more productive?
Polo, for sure