In His Shoes: Omar Ashour

By Linah Hashmi

“I always had to have a say in the way I dressed ever since I was a kid! I was meticulous & peculiar, always noticing details! It was in my DNA.” Yes, his sense of style and unique flair was prominent from the moment he could voice his opinion. After having worked at The Wall, a multi-brand boutique in Jeddah, catering to the modern male on the hunt for ultra chic quality garments with casual wear designer brands, it was at this young age of 15 that he knew this was the field he wanted to pursue and make a career out of.

His first creation was a thobe that he wore at his high school graduation in 1999. And after attending architecture at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, the dream of building his own label finally surfaced in 2008 and he officially established Omar Azure, a design concept that has become synonymous with superior tailoring and a unique modern aesthetic, transcending the traditional Saudi thobe into a piece of contemporary fashion. A man of impeccable talent, here is my interview with Omar Ashour


Is there a specific reason you named your brand Omar ‘Azure’ ?

I have always loved what ’Azure’ means and represents. I was first introduced to this term in my teens when I saw the Bentley Azure. Its name intrigued me, so I started researching what the term Azure meant and its references. In old literature it referred to the highest level of sophistication, which is what Omar Azure stands for. And it is also the color of the sky, so its our fancy way of saying the sky is the limit for our creativity, ambition, expansion. Even the indigo coloured Z in our logo is derived from that colour and meaning.

You’re like the contemporary version of the classic traditional thobe! You’ve paved the way for young Saudis to have an option of a thobe style that caters to them! While still holding on to that level of luxury! In a country where we see mostly high end luxury fashion, tell us the importance of contemporary fashion in Saudi Arabia!

I’m flattered and humbled by your notion Linah. Although we may not be there yet, but I’d like to believe that we are playing a role in bridging the gap. A gap that has been in existence for so long. I did not reinvent the wheel, to be frank. I took the existing thobe, changed existing proportions, and emphasized on garment construction, finishing and superb tailoring. As well as a timeless and chic aesthetic incorporating Omar Azure signature touches and details. So customers can enjoy a thobe of the highest quality and craftsmanship tailored to their demands. You see, believe it or not, the Saudi man is more meticulous than he’s given credit for. Let’s take our national garment, the thobe, for example.  The Saudi man is very particular when it comes to fabric selection. The decision is well thought of and he will go to different vendors until he finds the right fabric that suits him and one which adapts to the surrounding climate. Then comes the accessory selection and trust me, it is as important as selecting the thobes fabric, whether it is a pair of cuff-links or a pen.The Saudi man is well known to pay attention to detail, especially how particular he is when choosing accessories that compliment his thobe. What I’m trying to point out is, contemporary fashion, by local designers, is getting its credit. We still see customers willing to pay far much more on European designer garments, and less on local ones, but that’s a cultural thing, which I believe is in the process of fading out. The customer nowadays is more aware of design and craftsmanship. So when the articles are in the right package, trust me, that’s where the loyal relationship with customer starts. To me it’s a matter of trust. And Alhamdulillah customers and Omar Azure are aligned on that path.

What International trends apply to Omar Azure?

Trends like the shirt dress, the leopard prints & vests to name a few as seen in some of my most iconic OA pieces below:

Describe the ideal Omar Azure customer

Subtle, Sophisticated, cultured, well educated, open minded, and bold. Someone who appreciates detail, and the finer things in life. I don’t do logos and stamps on my garments. So understated is the key word.

Tell us about the Swarovski event with Harvey Nichols Riyadh and how Omar Azure collaborated?

This was actually our 2nd collaboration. I first showcased with Swarovski at their Armani hotel event in Dubai back in 2011. It wasn’t an easy decision as I always try to maintain a subtle and masculine aesthetic in my thobes while Swarovski is all about bling and glam. Even when I select the floral prints for our linings, I make sure they’re something an Omar Azure customer would feel comfortable in. And that’s exactly what I did when collaborating with Swarovski for Harvey Nichols Riyadh. It was exciting, the Swarovski elements are very inspiring, and that’s how the ideas came about. It was a capsule collection of 9 designs. I wanted to use the Swarovski elements in the right proportions. In a way that the sparkle of a button, or the pearl mesh is where it’s supposed to be. Nothing over the top but rather minimal, to the point, and masculine.

Your personal favourite day & evening look?

Day: A white Omar Azure thobe, a pair of driving shoes, and of course my shades.
Evening: I enjoy wearing black during the evenings. It also depends on the event or where I’m going. But in general, I like to wear black. One with one of our collars, and a French cuff. I love French cuffs, especially the new chamfered ones we recently launched at Omar Azure. Also a pair of fine oxford shoes – each man should own a pair of those in black and brown.

Describe your personal style in general

Age and maturity play the biggest role here, well at least in my opinion. I have a lot of pieces in my wardrobe I don’t wear any more, but I still keep them. I frame some, some in suit cases, and others are just hung there taking space! Anyways, what I’m trying to say here is what I used to wear 3 or 5 years ago, I do not now. I definitely prefer a timeless look. Something smart, subtle, well tailored, and of fine fabric. I like to feel that piece I’m wearing went through a process, took effort, and was made with passion. You see, I’m a detail oriented person – that’s the architect side of me – so I like to explore a piece before purchasing it, and make sure it’s not trendy! It has to be timeless, and well proportioned.

Favourite items that you would accessorize with a thobe?

Classic Omar Azure cufflinks, my Muji sketch pen, and of course a pair of statement shoes, something I can never get enough of.

Which male celebrities would you like to see your clothes on?

Andy Garcia, Charlie Rose.

Your favourite fashion designer/designers?

My Favourite designer would definitely be the late Gianni Versace. (And Omar specifically asked me to emphasize on ‘Gianni’ here.)

Your favourite fashion icon/icons?

Ralph Lauren & Tom Ford.

What shoes are you wearing right now?

Bally red velvet slippers.


Omar Ashour is also one of the brains behind how ‘shoesanddrama’ got its name.


Some of his key achievements include:

Omar Ashour was the only Saudi thobe designer selected to showcase with Swarovski elements at the Armani hall in Dubai in 2011.

Omar Azure was asked once again to collaborate with Swarovski elements and Harvey Nichols Riyadh at their ‘Dazzle with Crystal’ event recently.

Omar Azure for LIFE was designed in proximity with the brands carried by LIFE store, Jeddah, which allowed OA to push the boundaries and explore a more edgy approach with deconstruction being the theme.

Facebook: OmarAzure | Twitter: @owashour @omarazure



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