Toby’s Hatem Al Akeel Makes Culture Interesting

One of the most distinguishing and unique factors of Arabian culture is the traditional Thobe or Kandora that has been worn for centuries and continues to be worn and is even considered the most formal of attire in places like our beloved Gulf countries. Although attempting to alter such attire could have caused a misfit in some nations – but it hasn’t. Hatem Al Akeel managed to bring together the immediacy of Western fashion into our prestigious Middle Eastern traditional attire with just the right amount of creativity!


For years, our men have been dressing in the traditional Thobe without any alteration, and who could have thought that fashion and tradition could make such a great combination? Hatem Al Akeel did for sure. The Saudi designer has impressed the Khaleeji culture with his consistency and innovation. Al Akeel is now aiming for the bigger picture with his label Toby, which translates to “My Garments” in Arabic, garments being the traditional Khaleeji Thobe.

Not only has he participated in many overseas shows like the fashion show in Bvlgari Hotel in London, but Toby has become such a hit that his label was worn by celebrities of likes of Christian Louboutin and Snoop Dogg. According to Arab News, in 2015, Hatem’s achievements have granted him a “Forbes leaders Inspiring Entrepreneurial Elite Award”, awarded to him by the Governor of Riyadh, His Royal Highness Prince Turki Bin Abdullah.

The Toby Store in Jeddah

According to Gulf News, Toby has become such a hit that there have been a great deal of orders from the UK, North Africa, South Africa and even Europe!

Recently, Al Akeel has also brought the world Hatem Al Akeel Femme, which is an extension of Toby for women, which offers a variety of Jalabiyas, Kaftans and dresses.

“I am not here to change tradition, however, I think that we should have options.” Hatem told Gulf News. “Variety is the spice of life.”

When Gulf News asked Hatem what the strategy was to stay different and at the forefront, Al Akeel answered, “It’s actually very simple. The strategy is to be true to your own design so that over the years you come recognized with your own signature style. It’s very important for any brand to identify what is their signature concept that would differentiate them from other brands.”

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