Saudi Arabia’s fashion landscape is rapidly evolving. As local influencers, models, and other creatives continue to rise, the way the nation consumes fashion is changing. With greater access – be it through social media content, particularly TikTok; or retailers – the Kingdom’s already fashion-forward women can express themselves in ways like never before. With a recent wave of social reforms, Saudi women aren’t afraid to share their style, especially on social media, and to play around with it.
Additionally, large-scale events like film festivals, the Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda show (held in AlUla), and the upcoming Saudi Fashion Week in October further amplify the Kingdom’s love for fashion. With a large part of its population being under 30, the next generation is tech-savvy and well-researched when it comes to style – be it regarding sustainability, seeking out cool homegrown labels, or simply experimenting with different trends.
Vogue Arabia speaks to five Saudi Arabian Gen Z girls to break down their style and understand how they shop.
The Noura, 22
“Fashion isn’t just about wearing trendy clothes – it’s about creating a sense of identity and confidence that reflects who you are,” says The Noura. The 22-year-old, who is on a gap year ahead of pursuing a master’s degree, grew up in a family that loves fashion, and learned from her older sisters to invest in forever pieces. Case in point: Her Saint Laurent biker jacket, which she will cherish for decades. While her style identifies more with a classic aesthetic, she likes to incorporate trends in small doses. “I love to mix and match, but I prefer a classic style that highlights my feminine side. And I love labels like Alexander McQueen, Zimmermann, Adidas, Jacquemus, and Hindamme,” she says. Additionally, she’s not a fan of mixing prints or skinny jeans. When it comes to shopping, it’s the usual suspects like department stores, online portals, and vintage shops, but she also enjoys buying from local boutiques when traveling.
Jouri Barakat, 19
For Jouri Barakat, fashion is a powerful tool that allows people to connect with others on a deeper level. The aspiring lawyer often gravitates towards a tropical beach vibe when it comes to dressing but also plays around with other styles. “I enjoy exploring different aesthetics and trends, observing what catches my eye and resonates with me – this way, I can better understand what makes me feel confident and comfortable,” she says. She opts for labels that create innovative pieces from high-quality materials when shopping. “While I love exploring small markets and unique finds from around the world, I also admire international brands like Zimmermann and Louisa Ballou. Additionally, I appreciate the creativity of independent designers and emerging labels offering one-of-a-kind pieces that align with my personal style.” Barakat discovers new labels through public figures, as well as through mood boards and social media platforms.
Gaia Ataya, 22
The model/influencer who grew up between Saudi and Switzerland firmly believes in the “look good, feel good” mantra. “Fashion enables me to feel empowered and be my authentic self,” she says, while crediting Lily-Rose Depp as her style icon. Ataya identifies her style as versatile, classic, and feminine and strongly supports Arab labels. “Saudi designer Nasiba Hafiz’s clothes have added so much pop and fun to my wardrobe this year – her pieces are truly unique and are produced mindfully,” she says. Ataya adds that she resonates with a different brand every year; for 2023, she’s bought a lot of Prada pieces. “I also love Loro Piana as it truly captures my ideal classic style – stemming away from big logos.” When discovering new labels, it’s primarily TikTok she refers to. “The specific algorithm tailored to my interests makes it easy to come across brands that would fall into my style category.
Nour Aldohni, 19
For Jeddah-born student and model Aldohni, fashion is a creative outlet blending art, culture, and individuality that is constantly evolving. As someone who consciously practices mindfulness and sustainability, she believes in investing in quality pieces that transcend seasons versus indulging in fast fashion. Not one to conform to fleeting trends, Aldohni believes in creating a unique style identity that reflects her personality and doesn’t sacrifice comfort. Her style fuses modern elegance with culture, and she’s often inspired by the rich local fashion scene that blends traditional elements with contemporary designs. “While I enjoy international luxury labels, I also love supporting local designers that bring a unique perspective to fashion,” adds Aldohni. One of her most cherished pieces is an embroidered traditional Saudi abaya that she feels represents a significant part of her identity. Aldohni often discovers new labels through fashion events, exhibitions, social media, and magazines and likes to shop through various channels, including luxury department stores, vintage boutiques, local shops, and e-tailers.
Areej Algeem, 25
This self-confessed shopaholic and workaholic loves adding a playful twist to classic styles. “Fashion to me is a means of self-expression – a way of telling a story, especially when I wear something new or trendy. And that’s when I feel most confident,” says the hospitality professional. The many stylists she follows on social media help her discover new labels, and currently, she loves brands such as The Frankie Shop, NA-KD, Dissh, and Lilysilk as they suit her lifestyle. She’s also not one to follow trends blindly. “I hate socks with sliders, low-rise jeans, sunglasses at night, ripped jeans, and bulky sneakers,” says Algeem. Regarding viral TikTok trends like Barbiecore and Mermaid core, while she doesn’t follow them, she does enjoy watching how creative people can get with fashion.
Originally published in the September 2023 issue of Vogue Arabia
Style: Suhilah Almamy
Fashion market editor: Mohammad Hazem Rezq
Makeup: Laila Shawly
Style assistant: Wazina Nizar
Producer: Basamat Arabia
Assistant producer: Thanaaz Hisham