Toby: To be trendy and traditional

To be both trendy and traditional almost seems like an oxymoron. Unless of course, traditional is the trend, which it never is. But to be trendy has more often than not meant to be contemporary or in, while traditional has become synonymous with being conservative and outdated. Thus, to be able to seamlessly fuse the two together to create an innovative interpretation of a customary garment is truly an art and one that designer Hateem Alakeel of Toby thobes has without a doubt mastered.

Toby is a line that incorporates both concepts of trendy and traditional to become neither one of them. Instead, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, with Alakeel creating avant-garde creations that have yet to be matched. The designer’s sense of style is innate in each of his designs and his technical knowledge overt.
With a million-and-one thobe designers and brands coming out today, it’s easy to get desensitized and perhaps even disillusioned when you hear the term “designer thobe.” While most designers simply experiment with stitching and embellishments, Alakeel goes 10 steps further in deconstructing the thobe and rebuilding it into an entirely new garment. His East and West fusion of styles has manifested itself into his widely popular suit-thobe and his formal tuxe-thobe.
These types of adventurous designs are exactly what the Toby Man desires. He expects original, cutting-edge designs that are both practical and trendsetting. He wears only the best materials to the highest standards. “He is a fashion leader — never a follower,” explains Alakeel, “And he always takes great pride in his roots.”

Toby thobes are quickly entering the mainstream via celebrities, socialites, and even designers. Giorgio Armani and Tom Ford have both voiced their praise of the unique thobes, while Christian Louboutin used Toby’s catwalk for his Middle East debut of his men’s footwear.
International stylist to the stars, Derek Khan, who is single handedly credited for bringing high-end fashion to hip-hop, is a die-hard fan of Toby. Flip through the pages of one of the numerous UAE fashion and celebrity publications that follow him around and it’s hard not to find a picture of Khan sporting one of Alakeel’s designs.
It’s clear that the future of fashion has Toby written all over it. Having won not only the acceptance, but affection of one the world’s most inaccessible industries, Alakeel has broken the barriers most thobe designers only dream of: He’s taken the Arab garment and made it internationally coveted.

Fashionistas in the region and abroad, all want Toby! And with the inclusion of his latest line in Boutique 1 that dream is quickly coming into fruition. “Boutique 1 represents a pantheon of international designers such as Balmain, Elie Saab, Armani, Oscar de la Renta, Marchesa, Zac Posen, Jil Sander, Diane von Furstenberg and now it has Toby by Hatem Alakeel,” states Alakeel, “It is akin to being on Fashion’s Mount Olympus.”
With his latest collection, Professional Line, Alakeel is setting his visionary sights on the sophisticated businessman. “With the grace of Allah, we have conquered the fashion conscious avant-garde demographic and now our aim is to become the leaders in classic traditional designs as well,” reveals Alakeel, “We have launched the new Professional Line targeting the more ‘corporate’ customers, such as businessmen, bankers and government officials.” His Jeddah boutique has even expanded to include a designated section to showcase the new line. “Compared to last season, the new collection is more varied but much more personalized,” states Alakeel.

And just in time for Ramadan, Alakeel has announced the expansion of the TJ Toby Junior Line, which will include a multitude of extra editions and options. Now, the whole family can step out in elegance and style!

Article by Marriam M Mossalli – Arab News