"I tell the story of the woven Sadu patterns of Arabia" – Hindamme's Mohammed Khoja
In conversation with the designer
Saudi Arabian designer Mohammed Khoja has just launched his second collection for Hindamme, a label which has now celebrated two seasons on the schedule following the brand's launch in April 2016. Here the designer talks to Farouk Chekoufi about his new look, which is "strong but just easier to throw on in comparison to the first collection, and very cosmic in terms of its inspiration", his East meets West concept and why Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz is his ultimate muse...
What was the inspiration behind your second collection?
It was a range of elements that I started mood boarding for SS17. I felt inspired by the glam rock era of the 1970's and its bold and uninhibited aesthetic. I looked at cosmic elements including illustrations of the universe. Then I felt the need to tell the story of the ancient tribal patterns of Arabia. Sadu, as they're know is an instantly recognisable element of iconography from our region, but I also felt inspired to use the original forms of these patterns. I researched so many variations of Sadu and took pieces of them to create new works, which are more reflective of their original aesthetic and function. The original Sadu patterns are considered a form of storytelling as they reflect the environment and lifestyles in which the early Arab Bedouins lived.
How did the idea of Hindamme first come about?
I am inspired by the idea of creating wearable works of art and I wanted to be able to tell a story. With my first collection I focused on Naqhat patterns — which are normally drawn in formal salons by women in the Southern town of Aseer in Saudi Arabia and are unfortunately no longer passed to the new generation, as there is no longer a demand. I felt I was able to highlight and preserve this aspect of our heritage and introduce it to the world.
Do you believe in the see-now-buy-now concept?
I definitely believe this concept works well for certain brands. Fashion shows are a wonderful opportunity to showcase the mood of the collection and inspire your audience but I don't necessarily believe that we'll see a decline in designers showcasing seasonal collections at shows. There is such a sense of nostalgia and tradition attached to fashion week that the see-now-buy-now concept couldn't replace. But at the same time, I do feel that the world is changing and people are exposed to so much more than ever before, to the extent where it becomes harder to retain interest when showcasing a collection months before it becomes available to the consumer.
See-now-buy-now is sort of reminiscent of the print vs. digital debate with magazines
Speaking of fashion week, you dressed Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz during Paris Fashion Week. How has your relationship evolved?
I was grateful enough to have met Princess Deena through a very close acquaintance at a show opening during the 21,39 art fair in Jeddah. She was extremely gracious, humble and of course incredibly elegant in a deep emerald green velvet abaya. I introduced her to my brand and she gave me a sense of reassurance that I was on the right path, which meant a lot coming from her. I just remember feeling very inspired after meeting her! She is a big fan of streetwear inspired luxury so there was an automatic interest in the bomber jackets, I was ecstatic when a week later, I saw her wearing one of my bombers at the Armani show. She represents the epitome of East meets West so it was an honour to have dressed her!
Tell us about your passion for bomber jackets?
I love the idea of contrasting something elegant with something very street.
How did you get started in fashion?
I've always had a hunger to create ever since I can remember. Some of my very first memories are of drawing shapes and forms. Then during my years in high school I used to accompany my parents on buying trips to Italy, where I met designers and visited factories. My parents owned two stores in Saudi that exclusively sold a range of Italian designers. But it wasn't until I was studying business in Paris did I feel more motivated to pursue design. Hindamme is something that took years in the making. Last year, I finally connected all of the dots and went ahead to launch the brand.
Who is your ultimate muse?
It's difficult to say because there are so many. But since we discussed her earlier, Princess Deena is definitely one of my favourites!
PRINCESS DEENA AND I HAD A VERY BRIEF AND INSPIRING DISCUSSION ON THE IMPORTANCE OF BREAKING NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES AS ARABS
What is your opinion on progressive trends and fast fashion today?
I am not an admirer of fast fashion and progressive trends. They are very short lived! I favour fashion with longevity instead, to the point where they become heirlooms!
You're very active on social media. What do you think of social media's influence on fashion today?
I feel like it lends to a more empowering experience and it all comes down to applying an aesthetic to anything you do, the images you share and how you project your brand. Social media is the voice of our generation and it has the ability to further build the image of a brand as well as portray a more personal approach. But I also have my reservations at times, as I feel social media is sometimes used to solely 'sell' products rather than create genuine creative content.
What do you think about the Middle Eastern fashion market?
The Middle Eastern client is specific and has a great eye for detail. I also feel they tend to be daring and are normally attracted to more of the statement pieces in a collection.
What is your vision on the future of fashion and art in Saudi Arabia?
I truly believe that there is immense talent and creativity in Saudi Arabia. But it all comes down to connecting the dots and creating the ecosystem, which I have seen evolve tremendously. The Kingdom has already established a world-renowned art scene and I believe fashion is to come next.
What's next for you?
I'm planning to showcase my collection for the first time in Paris this year, which I'm very honored and excited about. I'm also working on my third collection and I'm planning to apply my patterns on modern pieces of furniture and design objects in the near future.
Tell us about your Paris show in June 2017?
Paris represents the heart of fashion, where luxury is solidified. As well, on a personal level, it's my second home as I've spent many years living there and developing my aesthetic. Expect a Hindamme exhibition and showroom in Paris, which will be the turning point in terms of reaching a global audience.
Now, read about why HRH Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud thinks that "the day that 'the Saudi woman' is no longer the story but a phenomenal achievement" will be the turning point in the Kingdom.