Black, white, simple but bold. Mashael, having always been intrigued by menswear is a bit of a rebel in her country’s fashion landscape.
You are maybe the only woman in Saudi Arabia designing clothes for men. How did you decide to create for them, and how are you inspired?
Men’s fashion has always been something that fascinated me. And my experimental approach to high casual wear is unbounded by gender to begin with. I like focusing on the human structure— and then from there be inspired by the form of both men and women.
Is your country, Saudi Arabia, a big resource for your inspiration? Is being from Saudi important for you as a designer and your brand’s DNA?
Yes, identity and taking pride of our roots is a cornerstone of the brand. Our culture is rich and has a place in modern design. Hence, you’d see elements of it in the collections, or we’d breathe new life to artisan techniques and integrate that in the designs.
Your last man collection is quite conceptual and it’s playing with fabrics very interestingly. Is your man customer usually someone from the Middle-East region, or would you say they are still a bit shy about such a strong aesthetic?
We have succeeded in capturing our regional audience, Men in the middle east are no longer linear or traditional in their approach to fashion. A lot of them appreciate the aesthetics and are quite stylish in their own right. It’s no different than their counterparts elsewhere who like our men’s collection because of its conceptual, minimalist, it’s not about the trend approach.
How would you describe the generation of emerging designers in the Middle-East? What do they have to bring to the fashion scene that western designers don’t?
Every designer brings their own unique identity inspired by their experiences, history and view of the world. Emerging designers from the Middle East are able to bring a perspective that is completely of their own and add their own cultural export. Right now, if we’re looking for a more globalized view on fashion, you have to have representation from all its hemispheres. This is how we move forward, design should not be confined or boxed into restrictive mindsets— East and West needs to mesh now to create beautiful things.
Finally, if you were to take me with you in Saudi Arabia, what would be the perfect day, what would we do and see?
A tour of bujairy followed by a tour of the cosmopolitan side of town that has meshed well with tradition. Najdi hospitality dictates you get to taste your first gahwa and definitely pair that with some dates as we show you how exquisite Saudi nights can be.