by Ahmed Khan, Founder, The Rahnuma Daily
RAHNUMA (HYDERABAD) Saudi Arabia’s fashion sector is among the fastest growing in the world. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hosted its first Arab Fashion Week, fashionably late, back in 2018 as part of the Vision 2030 reforms, and the effort by His Highness Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, colloquially known as MBS, the Crown Prince to encourage aspiring Saudi designers and drive further growth in the sector.
By launching the first Arab Fashion Week in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was clearly aiming at organizing world-class fashion events to promote its fashion sector, and support other economy sectors such as tourism, hospitality, travel and trade.
Princess Noura bint Faisal, 2018 honorary president of the Arab Fashion Council (AFC), had announced to a small group of industry insiders and journalists in London saying: “Saudi Arabia’s artistic community has been growing in size and in confidence for a number of years and the General Entertainment Authority believes that such an event will allow a proper platform to showcase their fashion and arts talents as the vehicle for a comprehensive range of entertainment options in Saudi Arabia. “The General Entertainment Authority is proud to support an event that seeks to bring people together in a mutual appreciation of the power of fashion and art.”
During my recent 2019 visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the visit of Prime Minister Modi and a select group of journalists, influencers and businessmen including Indian business tycoon Mukesh Ambani, I was invited to attend the Future Investment Initiative 2019, visit Aramco, meet with the Kingdom’s top military spokesperson, its Ambassador to Yemen, and experience the Vision 2030 reforms in person.
In my re-experiencing of Saudi Arabia in nearly ten years after an earlier visit, it was the cultural renovations under MBS which appealed to me the most, and made me happiest.
Within a short period of time after my visit, I was introduced to an interesting Saudi Instagram page on fashion which boasts of over 400k followers. So, I began following it and observing developments, eventually leading to my conversation with its Founder Alanoud, a ‘Gen Z’ Saudi fashionista in its truest form, and sitting her down for an interview.
Alanoud’s expression for her love of fashion began when she was just 14 years old. Her popular Instagram page and blog ‘Style In Saudi’ boasts of ‘Gen Y’ and ‘Gen X’ visitors from all over the world, from Paris to Milan and from Mumbai to Riyadh.
During the course of my lengthy discussions with Alanoud, I’ve had the good fortune to become acquainted with one of the most motivated, traditional, yet forward thinking and brilliant Saudi females I’ve encountered, and wanted to introduce her to our readers as a source of inspiration.
Tell us about yourself and your story leading to your now.
My name is Alanoud, and I started my fashion blog back in 2014 when I was 14 years old. Fashion has always been interesting to me, and played a huge part in my discovering of my personality and style. When starting the blog, I thought about sharing the tips and tricks even the new trends that were trending at that time with my readers, so that everyone could find them gathered at one page and to make it easier for everyone to keep up with the trends. My phone used to be filled with pictures of certain outfits that I liked, so I simply thought about sharing them to everyone. And luckily, it has shown so much success that first affected me positively. Afterwards I started to share all types of styles to help everyone.
What draws you to fashion?
Fashion interests me in so many ways, but the main thing that attracts me is how every person could have their own different and unique style. The fact that you can reflect your mood based on your outfit interests me as well. So whenever I’m feeling like spending my day in a comfortable look, I could just throw on something simple and casual, and if I wanted to go out for dinner, I could wear something classy and formal.
Why did you create your Instagram account? What message do you convey through it?
The main reason is showing every person that they could be unique in their own way, and that there are no right or wrong in the way that you choose to wear your outfit and reflect your personality based on it. Everyone is unique in their own way and fashion helps you to stand out.
How does fashion and style make you feel?
I have always felt unique when choosing my outfit of the day, knowing that I’m going to stand out because of my style and the way I choose to represent myself. So they basically make me happy, and confident.
How important is fashion for society in your opinion or experience?
I believe that fashion plays a huge part in every society because it could be a way to represent each society’s culture and beliefs which in turn draws a lot of people to explore and learn more about others.
The social, economic and political factors formulate individuals’ attitude and their attitudes are reflected through their fashion choices. If all the factors (which effects society) are considered in sync with fashion, then fashion can be called as a reliable mirror of society. Have the recent Vision 2030 reforms made it easier for you to express yourself and share your opinions with the world?
I have always felt comfortable expressing myself and opinion to the world, and the Vision 2030 made me more encouraged to spread the beauty of our culture worldwide, especially with the help of Saudi Fashion community in the Ministry of Culture.
Fashion is a perfect marriage of creativity, communication, and utility. The art we wear and live with is the art we become. Art—fashion and otherwise—reflects who we are and who we aspire to be. What in your view, is the future of women’s fashion in Saudi Arabia?
Fashion has always been and will always be a way for every women to be successful, especially with the uniqueness of Saudi women and their phenomenal ideas.
Where do you see yourself and your page in five years?
Hopefully I will remain a huge source of every women’s fashion and style consultants, and provide more help to everyone and fulfill their needs.