A few years ago, Hatem Alakeel launched his ready-to-wear line for men. What seemed to be hobby turned into a business and elevated traditional wear and we couldn’t be happier! Check out how everything came about as we sat down with the designer for an exclusive interview:
1- When did you create your line Toby?
It all started 8 years ago. Which was originally a hobby and then turned into a full time job. I never knew I had it in me to become a designer ; but with time I grew very fond of the process of executing your fashion vision and turning it into reality.
2- Where do you get your inspiration from?
Old Hollywood movies , history art , nature and its many stages of evolution.
3- How did the Toby Femme line come about?
I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and translate what I was doing with Toby for women. I do however feel it was necessary to stay true to My brand DNA. I have attempted at women’s wear in the past but was never satisfied with the results I am happy to say that I finally found the correct formula that is true to my fashion ethos and I am very happy with the result of Toby Femme for the last 2 collections and the creative direction and execution I am taking .
4- What your design process from beginning to end? There is never one process it varies on when the inspiration comes to me. I could be in the shower or even when I am sleeping in my dreams. Inspiration is something I can’t force but when it comes I step back and record it.
5- Do you have a different approach when designing for women versus men?
All approaches are different but the nice thing about women’s is that there are no creative lines that need to be drawn. Whereas for men one needs to stop at a certain point which can be limiting some times. It’s also important for designers to understand how to translate their work commercially in a addition to the ‘creative ‘.
6- Who is the Toby Femme woman?
A woman who has her own sense of style and would never buy the whole outfit of the rack. She is confident enough to mix high-street with haute couture.
7- Tell us about your Bomber jacket and what inspired you to do it?
Since I design long jackets I also wanted to design something more casual but still has the intricate details in embroidery of Toby Femme. I hope to translate fashion as art pieces and this is what I want to do with my bomber jackets.
8- If you could describe Toby in 3 words what would you say?
Heritage, Modern and High fashion
9- Where do you see your brand in 5 years? With added international presence. Toby is not just for the GCC or West it’s a global fusion. So I look forward to pursuing different markets.
10- What celebrities would you love to design for? Both Regional and International
Kate Blanchet, Mia Diab, Queen Rania, Sheika Moza, Emma Stone, Justin Timberlake, Hassan Alshafei from Arab Idol 11- What’s your favorite shoe brand? Christian Louboutin of course 12- What type of shoes do you prefer with a Toby thobe: Midas or Loafers? Loafers
Three Quick Questions:
1) In general Midas or Loafers?
A: Loafers 2) Womenswear or Menswear?
A: Both 3) Jeddah or Riyadh? ( We’re making you choose lol) A: Jeddah