‘Unstainable Thobe’ merges tradition with technology

‘Unstainable Thobe’ merges tradition with technology
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Updated 05 November 2022

‘Unstainable Thobe’ merges tradition with technology

‘Unstainable Thobe’ merges tradition with technology
  • New cloth is brainchild of food, PR firms
  • Limited production and not on sale

RIYADH: Having a stain on your pristine white thobe can be quite bothersome if you are out and about, but with “Unstainable Thobe” it could all become a distant worry.

The product is the brainchild of food company Heinz and public relations firm Wunderman Thompson.

“The inspiration was real people and Arabian Gulf culture. The thobes, kanduras, and dishdashas are really important in the region. They are the national garments and keeping them pristine white is a real concern and source of great pride,” Adham Abdullah, senior copywriter at Wunderman Thompson Dubai told Arab News.

“Wearing a thobe is a given, packing a spare one is a given, and needing to eat carefully is an accepted constraint. But what if you could fearlessly eat all the food you like with all the sauces you enjoy, without worrying about stains, let alone having to think about keeping spare clean ones in your car? That’s a real-life solution,” Rita Giannelli, brand manager at Heinz, said.

The “Unstainable Thobe” launched through the partnership follows the traditional Saudi design of the garment but the developers aim to expand their production to launch UAE-style kanduras and Oman-style dishdashas.

The “Unstainable Thobe” took one year to create from conceptualization, approval, testing and production.

“The test phase was the longest one. It took us months to find the right technology and many more to learn the best way to apply the technology to the thobes without compromising the natural feel of the fabric while offering the protection we need to avoid stains,” Tiago Bastos, Wunderman Thompson Dubai’s creative director, said.

“When we were applying the nanotechnology to the fully tailored thobe, the fabric became thicker and unpleasant to wear. More than that, the protection would work for regular drinks like coffee and tea but wouldn’t fully protect against heavier liquids like ketchup or sauces,” Bastos said.

The design team resolved the issue by applying the anti-stain technology directly to the yarn of the thread — even before it became an actual fabric.

“The ‘Unstainable Thobe’ is the result of merging tradition and technology. While the fabric is the same as the ones preferred by local tailors, the tech applied to it is something completely different,” Pablo Dachefsky, Wunderman Thompson Dubai’s executive creative director, said.

The protective barrier of the thobe that prevents staining is made of millions of 40 nanometer-wide silicone filaments that adhere to the material of the fabric, creating a coat that protects it from spills.

One of the concerns people face with an unstainable material is that the fabric loses the protective layer after a few washes. The “Unstainable Thobe'' aims to address that concern with their technology. 

“The thobes can be washed regularly without compromising the protection,” Dachefsky said.



The development team stressed to never rub any spills or stains on the fabric and that if anything does spill on the thobe the first step is to splash some water on it and watch as the stain slides away.

The creators shared that for now the “Unstainable Thobe” is a limited edition and is not for sale but can be won through the Heinz social media accounts. 

Wunderman Thompson Dubai and Heinz have previously partnered on numerous projects.

Wunderman Thompson Dubai created social and digital assets for the brand that were relevant to the GCC market.

“I think this is a perfect example of how brands can stay true to themselves while embracing and being relevant to local markets. This is how brands need to move forward,” Dachefsky said.

The creative director said that he expects to see more collaborations like this in the future.

“The GCC is a region of such rich culture that welcomes people from all over the world with open arms. Acknowledging and celebrating the people, traditions, and heritage from here is not only good for business but also the least we can do as well-received newcomers.”