12 November, 2010

Coutured: the Thawb is boring no more

Defined by Wikipedia: a thawb or thobe (ثوب, '), dishdasha (دشداشة '), kandura (كندورة ') khameez (قميص '), or suriyah in Libya, is an ankle-length garment, usually with long sleeves, similar to a robe. The way men dress here, completely lacks style and can be very boring. Hadharem men can be colorful in the sarongs and subaiyas; the Moroccans can be impressive and have style with some of their galabiyas, especially the hooded ones. But those in the Arabian Al Jazeera using thobs or dishdashas or kanduras - have never had much to choose from; there always has been the same, monotonous styling and - mainly, of only white. Not any more.

Enter Hatem Al Akeel. And his Toby outfits. And the Arabian dishdasha takes such sophisticated styling and shapes, that other internationally renowned, world class designers have taken note. And given praise. And so has the media.

A few excerpts of what is said about the gifted and remarkable Hatem:
  • When Hatem Al Akeel returned to Saudi Arabia after spending years abroad, he felt limited by the traditional white dishdasha (kandoura)..........He wanted to express his individuality and make the garment more fashionable, so he decided to design his own dishdashas, with a modern twist. To his surprise, people started admiring his creations. Before he knew it, Al Akeel, who had no previous fashion experience, was launching his own clothing line. Gulf News October, 2009
  • 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more often than not meant to be contemporary or in, while traditional has become synonymous with being conservative and outdated.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 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. Arab News July, 2010
  • Alakeel pays homage to Andy Warhol by adapting the Campbell soup into his thobes and Rene Magritte has been an instrumental artist who has inspired him to think that art can also be fashion. “Anything ordinary can also become extraordinary,” he says, philosophically. “Art is a form of expression that can be seen by other individuals. It is being able to project and make other people understand through your own interpretations. Art is, however, subjective,” he’s quick to add. Khaleej Times  July, 2010
  • Thanks to Hatem's unique upbringing, living in Europe, the USA and Saudi Arabia, the young designer's signature style is to combine traditional and modern clothing which stand out for their originality and elegance. AMEInfo October, 2010

  • Saudi Arabian designer Hatem Alakeel is today one of the most applauded designers of Arab fashion designers in the World. Through his designer clothes “Toby”, he has reinvented the Thobe as a fashion icon introducing in his models a perfect balance between this traditional Oriental outfit and the latest trends. Al Nadi Magazine, July 2011
With the Eid Al Adh'ha celebrations now on, Toby outfits might give shoppers choices; for style and variety. The problem is, for people here - Tobys are rather expensive: prices for Tobys range from about the equivalent of 100 US$ to about 300 US$. The Chinese, as always, are observant and watching; they will come up with cheap, fake replicas. Just as they have done with other designer clothing.