Traditional clothing and classic styles are making something of a comeback with young fashion designers experimenting with old and new.
The fusion of antiquity with modernism has given birth to several brands with Qumasha, in Saudi Arabia, one of the latest examples.
Moath Al-Harbi and Meshari Attar launched their clothing line in 2016 and the company has reintroduced traditional attire with a modern twist.
Al-Harbi said that clothes such as sherwal (type of pants) and wezra (a long wrap or skirt worn by Hijazi men) had always fascinated him. “I used to see my father wearing those traditional attires,” he added.
Al-Harbi studied filmmaking in the US between 2015 and 2016 during which time he made friends with people from all around the world.
“We would share some of our cultural traditions and clothing, and I was surprised that no one knew about sherwal and wezra. They identified Arabs with only thobe, shemagh, and abaya while our culture is much more diverse than that.
“That is when my friend and I thought of creating a brand that presented our traditions with a touch of modernity,” he said.
Qumasha’s aim is to spark a resurgence of heritage clothing and design.
“We offer a variety of products. Every year we launch new collections, products and designs, which also include socks and T-shirts. Our products are all limited editions.
“Our goal is not to compete (with others) but to educate people about the beauty of Saudi and Arabic attires,” added Al-Harbi.
His business partner Attar said: “The message is to tell everyone to look closely into our valuable history and culture that includes great traditional designs and clothes, while also keeping in mind the comfort factor.”
The venture’s socks collection includes prints of items that are in every Saudi household such as mabkhara (incense burner), oud oil, and dallah (Arabic coffee pot).
“These symbols are associated with Arab traditions such as generosity. When someone sees mabkhara, oud oil, and dallah, I want them to instantly think of Arabic themes,” said Attar, adding that sherwal was very popular in most Arabic countries.
“Its popularity started to fade in the 17th century. In our first collection we included the Hijazi roshan pattern, and our other collections had different themes from many regions in Hijaz and Asir.”
Qumasha’s themes are inspired from different regions of the Kingdom, and in the future, Al-Harbi and Attar plan to include themes from different Arab countries.
Their products are also unisex, “designed specifically to fit both genders comfortably and elegantly.”
Qumasha is available at Jeddah’s Homegrown Market, and Riyadh’s Personage Market.