Influencer or not, in the era of digital intimacy, men are taking to social media to proudly share their unique style, inspiring each other, followers, and brands. We follow four…
Perched on a friend’s shoulders, model Sofian Elbenaissati Biloul has his arms raised euphorically at an outdoor concert. His slim frame is dressed in a white, long-sleeved shirt by Tigha, and a heavy chain necklace hangs from his neck while chunky rings gild his fingers. “I bet you dance so well,” writes one follower below the photo on Instagram. “You are the king,” writes another. “I am a sultan,” answers Biloul. Scroll through your feed at any hour and men are posting their outfit of the day, new shoe grabs, and even selfies showing groomed facial hair against desert backdrops. Not all are “influencers,” however, though most play a role in the art and fashion world. They are leading a growing movement of men no longer self- conscious to showcase their love of fashion and grooming. Sure, some aim to make a career out of it. And with marketing agency Mediakix valuing the Instagram influencer economy at US $1 billion, why not? Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci are among the brands transitioning from gifting to paying social media collaborators with real dollars. Not everyone who is paying attention to fashion shares the same financial end-goal, however. For most, they are simply keen to showcase an evolved sense of self- expression. “I think men are breaking grounds and stereotypes with the way they are dressed nowadays,” says Kuwait art director Fahad Al-Hunaif.
I think they have developed a level of confidence and security to express themselves, which hopefully will inspire a bigger movement in the future.” May Barber, owner of The cARTel boutique in Dubai, which stocks brands like Henrik Vibskov and Berthold, says of men’s shopping habits, “They are becoming more experimental. Men are gravitating to color and print. They’re also buying vests and coats to wear over kandoras. They’re buying more accessories, colorful socks, and backpacks to accent their outfits in an original way.” What inspires men of style today? Vogue Man Arabia speaks to a model, designer, art director, and influencer to discover their of-the-moment aspirations.
Abdulla Al Abdulla, Blogger
“You’re going to follow me during Paris fashion week. We’ll be running around all day at fittings. I’m really, really excited,” says Abdulla Al-Abdulla on his video blog. His first appointment is with Louis Vuitton. When the assistant asks for his ID, he offers his verified Instagram page. “Welcome to the future,” he says.
“I want to let people into my life”
While Al-Abdulla is always on the lookout for emerging brands, he admits to being “obsessed with Gucci,” and cites Saint Laurent – particularly a pair of black python boots – as a staple in his closet. He never shops for luxury goods online, however. “E-commerce isn’t luxury to me,” he states. He started taking Instagram seriously around three years ago. “It’s more than building a following. I want to let people into my life. It’s a world of endless possibilities,” he says of the platform. “What I love about our region is that men are starting to see beyond labels and names. Middle Eastern men are looking at design and quality over a brand name,” he states, sharing that this wasn’t the case a couple of years back. As Al-Abdulla develops his relationships with brands, his closet expands exponentially. The latest item to grow on him is the fanny pack – of which he has about 30.
THE MILLENNIAL HIPPY
Sofian Elbenaissati Biloul, Model
A full-time Spanish model and actor of Moroccan heritage – he speaks fluent Arabic and a Berber dialect – 21-year-old Sofian Elbenaissati Biloul says, “I’m into underground style.” His Instagram is a roll call of new-age “street kids” aka model colleagues posing in white undershirts against vintage wheels. He also uses the platform to promote his work – campaigns for Pull&Bear and Tommy Hilfiger. His go-to brands include Fila, Lacoste, Le Coq Sportif, and Sergio Tacchini. “I always buy in physical stores. I like touching and seeing the product. I also buy a lot in thrift shops,” he shares. His must-have accessories include rings and necklaces. “I almost can’t go outside without them,” he says of his collection of chunky, silver accessories. Just don’t expect to spot a watch on his wrist. “I don’t like being aware of time,” he says. It’s no surprise that a surf board is on his wish list.
THE ASPIRATIONAL DRESSER
Fahad Al-Hunaif, Art director
As an art director and graphic designer based between Kuwait and New York, Fahad Al- Hunaif counts Maison Margiela, Frédéric Malle, Yang Li, and Condé Nast among his clients. His Instagram is a curated wall of photos of himself in or against neutral hues with frequent pops of color – citrus lemon is a favorite. He gravitates to designers with “certain representation” and identity and rotates between Balenciaga, Vetements, Margiela, Y-Project, and vintage stores. “I love to hunt for a good deal,” he says, counting socks, chains, and backpacks as his prime accessories. His prized possession is his vintage BMX motorcycle pants. Al-Fahad joined Instagram in late 2011, “when you were considered ‘Instafamous’ with 10 followers,” he says. “I was complimented on my style, which led me to post more pictures of my outfits.” His move to New York shifted his visual direction. “Taking pictures became a daily, natural habit. My end goal is to hopefully inspire other guys to express themselves, and to have a platform to creatively share my work.”
“My end goal is to have a platform to creatively share my work”
THE FASHION EDGE
Fahad Al Marzook, Designer
Fahad Al Marzook, with his sister Shouq, is inside his Paris showroom presenting his latest line of bags from their brand Marzook. “Someone asked me recently if I was tired,” he says, eyes widening. “Honestly, if I weren’t doing this, I would be so bored. We just love it so much.” He’s not just referring to his accessories line but fashion in general. And he is sure to personify the industry that nourishes his creativity. “I like to wear all-black with one special statement piece, like a coat or standout shoes.” Based in Kuwait, albeit traveling frequently to Lebanon to oversee the production of his line, he cites London as his favorite city and second home. “I was born there and it’s the place where I feel the most comfortable to dress up as much as I want to.” Al Marzook cites Yves Saint Laurent as a go-to, adding, “I also design and produce most of my clothes.” His must-have accessory is black sunglasses and he is on the lookout for a crocodile trench. The designer will often forgo a watch for “a big rock.” He adds, “Jewelry is always a must.” It has to be elevated and chic though – “never gaudy.”
“There are no rules. Confidence is key”