The fashion industry can sometimes provoke really bad PR onto itself, and we can kind of see why. So when it’s not being condemned for the use of underage, barely-breathing-kind-of-anorexic models; it’s the horrific reality that “Made in China” and “100% Polyester” have now replaced all that we originally loved about fashion! Goodbye, couture! 🙁
Thankfully, we have our green-blooded designers to rectify the lack of couture quality design. Conscious, organic, super local; Saudi’s homegrown talents are putting the heritage back in fashion–and not soon enough! Whether its because they grew up touching luxury and watching their mothers consume it; or perhaps it’s merely a lack of a solid, regional, fashion ecosystem–we still hand sew, not “manufacture,” that forces this kind of quality onto them, Saudi designers are putting their best garment forward.
In honor of our Kingdom’s 87th birthday–and our founding editor’s, Marriam Mossalli (she made include her name); we’re listing some of our favorite local talents! There are tons! So if you want to see one of your faves featured; comment below! And let’s celebrate our culture together!
The world gasped as we all saw the cream white structured masterpieces in action. We were left breathless -literally-. Through his work, Saudi designer Mohammed Ashi transformed his romantic aesthetic into wearable art- more like couture to be exact. Launching Ashi Studios in 2007, & gaining fast recognition – because how can he not! – Ashi was able to deliver fairytales through every collection he designed. Attached to his Arabian roots, Ashi managed to present diversity within his sculptural timeless works of art. No stranger to red carpets, Ashi graced celebrities with his dreamlike gowns on the likes of Sonam Kapoor, Amy Jackson, & Elenora Carisi.
“Hailed as a design genius, dubbed the Middle Eastern Tom Ford, crowned The King of Thobes, heralded as fashion’s man of peace, & now debuts as a filmmaker..” AlAkeel seems to be a very talented busy man.. & what’s not to be proud about! Hobby turned career, AlAkeel managed to transform his dreams and interests into perfectly tailored reality. “Toby by Hatem Alakeel is the embodiment of when the beloved traditional meets the modern contemporary in perfect harmony. Toby meaning “My Thobe” in Arabic is a simple & straight forward name with a cool western sounding feel. The name is a symbolic metaphor for unrivaled personal individuality. Toby by Hatem Alakeel is trendy, fun & unconventional with strong international appeal. Its message bridges cultures & continents regardless of nationality, language, race & creed.”
Razan Al Azzouni
Much like the many strong names in the fashion industry, the Saudi- based designer found herself born in an environment that didn’t correspond much to her artistic needs and aesthetics at that time , but Azzouni wasn’t the type of girl that settled for the norm. After graduating from high school. Azzouni booked a ticket to Boston to study sculpture, screen-printing & papermaking. Alongside her artistic studies was Razan’s deep love for fashion, and with the women as her muse, her speaks for itself label was born to life. Embodying elegance and femininity, her designs dressed top hollywood celebrities like Kelly Osbourne, Emma Roberts, & Kendall Jenner.
Jeddah-based designer Nora AlShaikh translated her love of architecture in her tailored masterpieces. With an aim to modernize the traditional , AlShaikh successfully managed to keep true to her Arabian heritage in the brand’s DNA. Never failing to innovate, AlShaikh took advantage of her travels gaining inspiration from art, people, and architecture. Back in 2015, Forbes awarded AlShaikh with a prize for “ Leaders Inspiring A Kingdom in the Business”. More power to you!
Leena M. El Khereiji & Hala M. El Khereiji
The two co-founders of Charmaleena Fine Jewellery are literally the perfect business partners. The first with a degree in jewellery design from the Gemological Institute of America in London, and the second with a Master’s in international management from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. In additiona to that, both ladies have a unique sense of style; brains and taste, the ultimate combination! No strangers to accepting awards, the Khaereijis won first place for the Young Creative Entrepreneurs from Saudi Arabia, awarded by the British Council, & from Forbes Middle East at a ceremony in Riyadh, as one of the top 100 creative entrepreneurs shaping Saudi Arabia’s future – to name a few.
You know what men always say about women’s feelings .. polar opposites? Well that’s exactly what Haifa’s designs embodied- “ a world of women’s extremes. A positively powerful expression of all the beautiful things, ideas, characters, possibilities, flaws, gifts, experiences and feelings every kind of she can be.” Fahad’s design contradictions from flowy feminine silhouettes to more structured designs with hard materials captured her true talents and creativity as a designer. The Saudi designer started our designing for herself, and later on successfully designing to woman all around the world.
Mix rebellion and perfection in a pot and you’d get Mashael AlRajhi. Establishing her name in the region with her own Riyadh-based atelier, Mashael’s name was one to never be overlooked. Her 2013 launch for her MASHAEL label not only targeted womenswear, but menswear as well. Her contemporary minimalistic masterpieces with a hint of arabesque attitude covered a wide range of young audience interested in adding her label to their own closets. Mashael’s goal -translated in her designs- remains to overlap street pret-a-porter with couture. What’s not to love?
Pearson’s NY graduate Nora AlDamer founded Chador, her fashion label, back in 2013. “Nora decided to enter the Fashion field due to the high demand for traditional clothing with top international standards. Coming from the same background and having the same needs as any middle eastern women made her know what the market was lacking and the brand quickly made its name in her hometown of Riyadh”. Nora’s continuous success is encompassed in her designing to the woman as a woman herself, before being a designer; and such kind of truthfulness in the industry is hard to find nowadays.
Designer behind this year’s “ Suitable Woman”, Arwa had her path of self-discovery at a young age. Growing up between Jeddah and Switzerland, and being surrounded by a fashion-oriented family, AlBanawi’s interest in the fashion industry began to form. Before leaving Jeddah to the metropolitan “IT” city, Dubai, AlBanawi emerged publicly as a fashion and lifestyle blogger, to later on taking courses in Dubai’s London College of Fashion to kick start her fashion label in 2015. Two years later, Arwa continues to design clothing that empowers women and young ladies to push through and became the #suitablewoman of her own dreams.
Studying fashion design for six years in four different countries definitely would build a strong base to any designer in the region. On 2015, Samar Nasraldin’s Atulier brand debuted in Riyadh Fashion Week. Through her contemporary designs, Samar aimed to deliver “ a journey, where the designer visits an abstract idea,bringing back souvenirs, surfaces and feelings that interact through artisan techniques and juxtaposed with creative pattern making to initiate a dialogue between the garment and audience”. The following year, the designer was chosen as one of the ten finalist for Vogue Italia’s talent scouting in Jeddah.
Starting your fashion label with a catchy Arabian name? Check! Fashion designer Mohammed Khoja knew how to start on the right note. Speaking volumes into the future, Khoja designed his edgy street style wear brand, Hindamme, keeping in mind his unique, bold, & fierce customer in mind- and he sure did succeed doing so! His aim was to design wearable art. Whether in the form of #BeduFab or bohemian sport goodness, his #eyecandy unisex label marked itself as one of the best Saudi labels out there.