Haku: The dream of a Saudi brand with a Japanese twist

The main four hand-drawn characters by Njood Alkharboush, the founder of Haku. (Supplied)
Updated 02 September 2018
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Haku: The dream of a Saudi brand with a Japanese twist

  • Njood Alkharboush, a Saudi graphic designer, has created a Saudi brand called Haku, which has a Japanese twist
  • Haku was launched in early 2018

JEDDAH: A large segment of Saudi youth and teenagers are so fascinated with the Japanese cartoon films and series known as manga (Japanese comics) and anime (animation) that they are eager to buy models and stickers of related popular characters. 

The fantasy world of manga and anime is aimed at children, teenagers and young adults, but the themes can become a little dark.

A Saudi graphic designer, Njood Alkharboush, has created a Saudi brand called Haku which has a Japanese twist. 

Alkharboush brought her dream to reality when she designed anime characters with a Khalijee twist inspired by her passion for Japanese anime. 

Haku is basically a Saudi brand and an online shop that provides products symbolized in a mixture of Saudi and Japanese culture, offering 12 products including stickers, pins and card games. 

“The products imitates the Japanese Manga designed in a Saudi concept in terms of the characters and items,” Alkharboush said. 

She has designed a new Poker concept known as “Kotchina” in Arabic by recreating the four characters of the original Poker card game through turning them into a Khaliji anime and changing the outfit into traditional Khaligie clothes (Thobe). 

“Each character is available as a sticker and a pin.” 

Alkharboush also has her very exclusive collection of pins, including an Arabic coffee cup held by the skeleton of a human hand, a female police car and a “Saudi skull,” a new character of the skull of a man with a long beard and Ghutra.

Haku was launched in early 2018, The project depends on designs that are hand-drawn, using the popular trend related to Saudi-Khaliji culture. 

 

Real business

The name of the project refers to a fictional character in the well-known Japanese movie “Spirited Away,” directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Released in 2001, it reportedly made the highest revenue in Japan’s film history and surpassed the most popular

American movie of the time, “Titanic.” 

Alkharboush told Arab News: “Haku is my favorite anime character of Miyazaki.

“I started to think seriously of turning my senior project into a real business after I saw the way people were attracted to it and the amount of appreciation and admiration generated. 

“Our first clothing line will be launched in early 2019 and our current products are also available in Concept stores in Jeddah, Riyadh. Soon they will be available in Bahrain and Dubai.” 

The business aims to bring happiness to people who find joy in little things, inspired by cute Japanese anime and cartoons migrated into Khaleeji culture, said Alkharboush.

“I want all these characters to pop up in people’s way wherever they go with real knowledge of who they are, to reflect the Saudi culture, as the Japanese anime have become an integral part of modern Japanese life and culture.” 

Alkharboush encourages all small businesses to believe in themselves, value their ideas and trust in what they are doing, never hesitating to bring their dream to reality. 

Such startups would emphasize the importance of the younger generation’s creativity to be spread and help to widen the horizons of the Saudi and Khaleeji culture.

A Saudi company called Manga Productions focuses on producing animations and developing video games with creative and positive content, targeting all local and international groups of society. 

Manga Productions seeks to launch several animation and video game projects to promote Saudi ideas and messages internationally. 

 

 

Decoder

What's an anime?

Anime refers specifically to animation from Japan or as a Japanese-disseminated animation style often characterized by colorful graphics, vibrant characters and fantastical themes. Poker: Poker is a family of card games that combines gambling, strategy, and skill. Ghutra: A traditional Middle Eastern headdress fashioned from a square scarf, usually made of cotton. Arabic coffee cup: Typically made of glazed white ceramic, it is usually plain or decorated with colors, but does not have a handle.


Bella and Donatella star in new Versace campaign

Bella Hadid walking in a Versace show earlier this year. (AFP)
Updated 19 December 2018
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Bella and Donatella star in new Versace campaign

DUBAI: US-Palestinian model Bella Hadid stars in a new ad campaign for Italian fashion house Versace — and it’s interesting to say the least.

The model stars alongside chief designer Donatella Versace in the campaign for the luxury label’s Spring/Summer 2019 women’s collection.

In a video, which Donatella teased on Instagram on Tuesday, the designer can be seen giving Bella a tattoo of the word “Versace,” while Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” music plays to dramatic, almost unnerving, effect. The camera pulls out to show Bella, in a blue mini dress, being inked up by a black-clad Donatella, before the 22-year-old model stares at the camera as it zooms back in.

While the tattoo is almost certainly fake, the model’s dedication to Versace is seemingly quite real — she has walked the runway for the high-end brand on more than one occasion and has featured in a number of adverts for the Italian fashion giant.

The theatrical campaign video is just one part of the push to promote the new collection, with Hadid being joined by the likes of model Irina Shayk and 1990s supermodel Shalom Harlow in a series of photographs.

The collection is marked by bold prints, patchwork and leather and was first unveiled during Milan Fashion Week in September.

In the show, Hadid wore a tight one-shouldered mini dress in yellow leather and matching sneakers.

Some of the prints used in the collection include colored stripes, bright flowers over pinstripes, checks, roses and small flowers mimicking animal prints.

“The style of the Versace woman is so recognizable that it need not be explained. She is not afraid of showing her personality and she is extremely feminine and confident,” read a style note by the fashion house, known for its daring designs.

Close-fitting silhouettes, flared trousers and layered looks feature in the collection that is distinguished by its use of orange, violet and lime colors.

The line also features big boxed bags that echo old-fashioned travel trunks and large PVC shopping bags emblazoned with Versace writing. In terms of footwear, chunky sneakers, college shoes, or square-heeled sandals are currently favored by the fashion house.

The brand with the famed Medusa logo said that her “mystic powers and ever-powerful persona are evident now more than ever,” according to the show notes in September.

Fake snakeskin, flowers, polished leather and layer upon layer, the Versace collection has been hailed as eclectic and refined by AFP.