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RIYADH: Designers are “thriving” in the Kingdom amid a “cultural renaissance” of creativity, Saudi fashion designer Mohammed Khoja has said.
The well-known fashion figure was speaking at Huna Takhassusi, a creative center in Riyadh, during a lecture titled “Building a Fashion Brand in an Ever-Changing Realm”.
Khoja, of luxury ready-to-wear brand HINDAMME, said doors have traditionally been closed to Saudi creatives in the past, but they are now opening.
“Saudi Arabia has been approached primarily for its purchasing power, but rarely for its creativity, and that is changing,” he said.
“We are lucky to be living in such an opportune time in Saudi Arabia, which really feels like a cultural renaissance.
“So many amazing initiatives and projects are starting to blossom, and now we really see the full inspiring creative potential of the Kingdom and the region coming to life more and more.”
The session was moderated by influential creative consultant Anum Bashir, better known by her social handle, Desert Mannequin.
Khoja pointed out that a historic lack of manufacturing capacity in the Kingdom is “now increasingly being addressed” with the help of buyers and retailers who are “investing in our local designers”.
He stressed the importance of opening communication channels and creating meaningful and authentic collaborations.
Khoja is inspired by telling stories through wearable artwork, resulting in a luxurious and contemporary approach to ready-to-wear that draws on the concept of “East meets West” and her own experiences. .
His designs often blend elements of Saudi heritage, with his first collection incorporating contemporary interpretations of Al-Qatt Al-Asiri motifs. He also combines his love of contemporary art, film and music in pieces influenced by haute couture. Some of his clothes, due to their cultural and historical significance, have been collected by prestigious institutions such as the Victoria & Albert Museum in the United Kingdom and the National Museum of World Cultures in the Netherlands.
More recently he has expanded into designing furniture and collectibles, his first client being the soon to be launched Emaar Hotel in Obhur, Jeddah.
He said at the event: “I often use fashion as a medium to tell a story and I’m lucky that some of these pieces have been deemed worthy enough to be collected and exhibited by museums.”
Khoja added that he is “confident and sees an extremely promising future for the Saudi and regional design industry. I think we will probably reach our anticipated goals faster than we imagine.
“I hope we have a more established framework that allows designers to thrive, and more structure that will help designers know how to start and how to progress, and grow both creatively and commercially.”
Bashir told Arab News, “I am here to contribute to change and unity through my work as a consultant. I would like to play a role in helping to foster a strong creative community by also strengthening individual brands and people. Together, we are actually much more capable of achieving greater things through collaborative experiences.
“We are all about community and engagement, which is why it is such a pleasure to align with the Huna Takhassusi team. By creating these sessions, we want to facilitate discussions of all kinds and help to take the initiatives further.