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How Hatem Alakeel is Modernizing the Thobe

Hatem Alakeel

Designs by Hatem Alakeel

Mixing contemporary fashion and traditional designs, Toby by Hatem Alakeel is taking the national dress into the future.

Not all national dress is plain white. Toby by Hatem Alakeel is elevating traditional styles into something fresh and interesting. The Saudi designer started out by designing traditional thobes for himself, but from that desire to add a touch of creativity and individualism in the national dress, his talent was noticed. The enthusiasm of his friends and colleagues showed him that he was not the only one looking for something novel to wear, and in 2007, he launched his label.

Alakeel describes his brand as the “embodiment of when the beloved traditional meets the modern contemporary.” He has dressed Christian Louboutin and Snoop Dogg, which is as diverse a fan following as you might find, and has shown alongside Tom Ford, Prada, and Armani.

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Like his creations, he’s the product of a global mix of influences. After boarding school in Paris, high school and university in the US, and then some part-time modeling for Armani, Alakeel decided he wanted to do something in fashion. He found himself, however, working in banking. The strict dress code inspired him to create a more interesting way of dressing for work, while still retaining the traditions of the thobe. With pen, paper, and online tutorials, he set out to change the way the Kingdom looks at traditional dress. Alakeel has proven that you can stay true to you roots and still be creative and forward-thinking.

Hatem Alakeel

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Photographer: Greg Adamski
Stylist: Bjorn Schutrumpf
Style assistant: Mohammad Hazem Rezq
Grooming: Giusi Mertoli at MMG
Models: Jaffer J, Cheyenne D at Wilhelmina

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