The past decade saw an amazing and overwhelming change in fashion for men and women; the evolution of the Saudi traditional thobe and abaya, the various use of the shumagh, the effects of fashion globalization and the emergence of certain Saudi talents who would contribute to the fashion world at large. These elements are but just a starting point for what the next decade has in store for Saudi Arabia’s fashion scene.
It was just a uniform; a plain white uniform Saudi men wore at work, social events and everywhere else. Then something dramatic happened, high-end European brands started making thobe fabrics for the Saudi market, names like Versace, Dunhill and Gianfranco Ferrè were on the labels of thobes. But that was not the evolution; a Saudi designer by the name of Yahya Al Bishri reinvented that plain white thobe and made it as lavish and unique as a French couturier. He started adding embroidery, stitching and various colours.
For today’s youth, who is always on the move and favors the Western influence of casual fashion, Louay Naseem entered the picture, introducing his own brand of thobes by the name of Lomar. The thobes were sporty, functional and casual. Introducing the zipper, the polo shirt collars, and rolled-up sleeves. Shortly after, Hatem Al Akeel graced thobe fans with his own brand, TOBY. A label encompassing his own vision of east-meets-west-chic. With a high-end, luxurious and modern appeal, influenced by the runways of Milan and Paris, Hatem managed to make his thobes tempting not only to the local Saudi market, but also globally. When it comes to the minimal approach to design, and an appreciation for architecture, a keen eye for details and luxurious fabrics, enter architect-turned-thobe-designer Omar Ashoor with his brand Omar Azure.The brand has managed to successfully integrate satin and cotton voile in such a manner that does not compromise the masculine appeal of a truly elegant thobe.
Following the same evolution of the thobe, the abaya has seen its share of dramatic transformation in the last ten years. From the shapeless plain-looking black shaylas to the introduction of buttons for functionality and comfort. The silhouette became more fit and constructed, with the introduction of various designs, fabrics, and a delicious addition of colors and prints. Various young Saudi designers, particularly Rotana Al-Hashmi and Sanaa Addas were making a name for themselves with their chic and highly sought-after designs. And the evolution did not stop there, but behold the sporty abayas for active, working women on the go by Eman Joharjy.