GQ Dispatches: The Coronavirus And Menswear In The Middle East, With Hatem-Alakeel

12 May 2020
Fashion, Coronavirus, Covid-19, Menswear, Middle East, Arabs, Saudi, Designer, Hatem alakeel
The Saudi designer on how style in the middle east could become more sustainable

Like all industries, menswear and fashion in the Middle East has been thrown into disarray due to the coronavirus.

We sat down with Saudi menswear designer and founder of his eponymous brand, Hatem Alakeel, for his take on the situation affecting the fashion industry in the Middle East. 

Will the end of the lockdown spell the end of sweatpants for good? Does the pandemic mean we'll all start ordering clothes via whatsapp? And will we ever wear trousers again?

Alakeel is a contributor to GQ Middle East and is famous for his reimagining of traditional menswear garments, especially the Thobe.

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“My re-styled thobe journey began out of boredom. Before I became a designer, I actually worked at a bank in Saudi and had to wear one every day. Eventually, I grew quite tired of wearing the same old style day in, day out, without the opportunity of dressing differently. I decided to take matters into my own hands, find a good tailor and create my own designs. These would be thobes with subtle detailing and accents to give them more personality and individual style. They had an almost instant impact, and it wasn’t long before my colleagues were asking me to design something for them, too.”

Together, we discussed new ways of working in menswear, a possible shift towards a more sustainable and localized business model and touched on the importance of dressing up for a Zoom call.