By: Eunice Castaños Domingo
Perhaps Arabs are among the race in the world who has preserved and maintained their culture through time. This is very evident in different aspects of their life and fashion is not excluded in it. In the point of fact, both Arab men and women are proudly flaunting their Thawbfor men and Abaya for women in day-to-day basis. Given that it is their traditional dress, the evolution of these clothes did not stop in history books nor as a costume for national day instead it has even covered pages of famed fashion magazines in the middle east, neighboring Arab countries and to some extent the western world. In 2016, luxury brand Dolce and Gabbana and big brand Uniqlo launched their Hijab collection. While other brands such as H&M, DKNY and Mango have followed through. The investments made by these brands was not put into waste as the mine of gold of in the land is tantamount to the value Muslims are ready to put in their dress and in the way they look as a whole.
While one who is not coming from thesame culture cannot truly differentiate a white thawb and a black abaya to another white kaftan or black tunic. Sifting through each piece of these Muslim dress would develop an idiots guide to Arab men fashion 101.
Arab men wears Thawbor Thobe. It is locally called dishdasha or kandoora or easily identified as white robe. The location of Arabian peninsula has played a major role in the way they dress. Thus, this article pertain mostly to the description of Arab men in countries such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates but not limited to them. In summer the desert weather would reach up to 50 degrees centigrade while in winter it can go to as low as 8 degrees while hailing at other parts of the peninsula. Hence, a thawb is usually made with cotton to make it comfortable in both seasons. Add a thick garment on top during winter and subtract an under garment called sirwal in summer which could either be short or long cut. Something that they can easily change however to make their look stylish is the ghutra, keffiyeh or shemaghs, called in three different names but is only one and thesame, it is a scarf on the head usually matching the color of the thawb or the red and white check patterns. Ghutra is a large square scarf use to protect the head from heat and cold and keep it from dust because sandstorm is not something extrinsic to them. There are practically ways to wear it and the most common in the Middle East Region is to wear it using iqal or agal a black cord place on top of the head to hold the scarf in place if it is not worn as a head wrap.
Given the formality of the thawb and ghutra, they would usually pair if with leather sandals. Sandals best suit their religious practice as they do pray for up to five times during the day and ensure that they make themselves clean before the prayer, thus making it totally practical to have it remove and done.
Though, Arab men outfit may sound totally simple comparing for example to a coat and tie these clothes are often made to order. Unlike the coat and tie which is always available in the market, dishdasha and ghutra are often tailor made to the measurement and taste of the person who is wearing it. So much so that there are always a handful of local tailoring and local designers who open specialty shops in each town souq to cater for Arab men’s fashion. One popular international dishdasha designer in the name of Hatem Al-akeel is known to deliver such class and fine thawb whereby famous fashion designer Christian Loubotin and singer-rapper Snoop Dog paraded his designs.
Hence, the next time you’re invited to a gala why not consider donning a bespoke Thawb accented by a beautifully sewn cloak called bisht or mislah. Forget about the predictable tux and never not wear your best foot forward.