The country’s style scene is a melting pot of diverse ideas that are paving avenues that are shattering borders and reinforcing the nation’s voice on the global stage. One entity leading the future of fashion and building its community is The Saudi Style Council (SSC).
The primary purpose of the Saudi Style Council is to provide fashion professionals with fair access to the industry’s full force and potential. SSC aims to incubate, educate, and highlight the true essence of creativity through its services.
We had the rare opportunity to get an insight into the council with an exclusive interview with board members Eyad Mashat, Marriam Mossalli, Rajaa Moumena, Sofana Dahlan, and Yahya Al Bishri, who are the visionaries behind the SSC.
All the board members bring their knowledge and experience to the council, like Yahya Al Bishri, a globally renowned fashion designer who has amassed decades of experience having dressed the likes of fashion maven Princess Diana and members of the Saudi Royal Family. About the SSC, Mr.Bishri states that “at the Saudi Style Council, we are a group of people from different expertise that can help when bouncing ideas and utilizing our expertise to the best benefit.”
He adds that “in today’s world, It is not enough to dream big, you have to dream realistically and think of the feasibility of these dreams. Therefore, we here at SSC are here to guide the younger generations of fashion designers to be able to execute their dreams because dreams without execution are null.”
Another key stakeholder in the SSC is Eyad Mashat, who has an extensive presence in the fashion arena of the county and is the owner of femi9 and CEO of Fad International Co. Ltd.
Upon being asked about what is the motivator for him when it comes to participating in the fashion dialogue in the country, Eyad replied, “When I do something, I do it with passion. Money is never a driver… The drive is never money because you will not reach where you can. When you focus on how much the return will be, the outcome is never good because there is no motivation.”
About the fashion creatives in the country, Eyad states, “I am very impressed with all the creatives and talents, but I feel there is a lack of experience in communication (which SSC can help with), but the creative side is there, and it is very impressive!”
The instigator behind the SCC is none other than Marriam Mossalli, who has a plethora of accomplishments in the creative realm and fashion. Marriam began her career as a print journalist before establishing her luxury communications and marketing agency, Niche Arabia, which has received international recognition for its innovation, particularly for elevating the Saudi fashion industry. Due to her prominence in fashion, Marriam has become one of the most credible and accurate voices in the industry, stating, “I wanted to leverage both my international and local network to support the burgeoning fashion scene within the Kingdom.
With Saudi Arabia opening up for foreign participation and investment, this presents a unique opportunity for us to not just import international franchises and concepts, but more importantly, for us to export our aesthetic to the rest of the world,” explains Marriam, who has been the only Saudi fashion creative on the prestigious Business of Fashion’s 500 since 2018. “I want Saudi Style Council to be that aggregator of creativity out of the Kingdom that we can then package to brands and publications in order to ensure authentic representation.”
Saudi Style Council also strives to become the reference point for novice creatives; by leveraging the knowledge and experience from veteran professionals within the fashion industry—and then passing that knowledge onto the next generation of local creatives. SSC is already making a name for itself as a supportive platform that helps establish local talent and find them paying jobs.
Marriam adds that one of the biggest problems that many young creatives may encounter is having low social media footprint as an obstacle to secure jobs; “I can’t tell you how many times I put forward a local makeup artist or model, and the client comes back saying they don’t have enough followers. And for me, that’s incredibly disheartening because your digital following shouldn’t equate to your expertise, but unfortunately, this is a global issue that many creatives are facing.”
“So my goal with SSC is to have, use our platform to amplify any work of our local creatives so even someone with no digital footprint but a great portfolio has the chance to advance in real life! I don’t think anyone should be held back just because they don’t have a million followers on Tiktok!”
Having worked with Marriam Mossalli on the ‘I am Fashion’, a fashion show in 2013 when the fashion scene was still lowkey, is Soufana Dahlan. The latter has always been passionate about fashion, a lawyer by profession, and she brings her expertise in law to the SSC. She shares, “I am hoping that my legal expertise, especially when it comes to copyrights, will help support the industry. Today many promising opportunities are happening on both the local front by having the Saudi copyright authority and also on the global front by having technology.”
Adding, “With proper government control of the intellectual property sector, people will be more at ease with sharing their ideas and growing their ideas. Looking at many success stories abroad, civil society organizations are usually part of the ecosystem, and the reason why is that they are a grass-roots movement. Hence, they detect what is happening on the ground and reflect it by doing something about it.”
Soufana concludes, “I am hoping that by creating that platform (with SSC), we will be able to detect problems and provide solutions to individuals and small organizations in this ecosystem.”
Raja Moumina, who is a prominent educator and the director of the Future Institute of Higher Education and Training, talks about what role SSC plays, “I am hoping that SSC will be a platform that acts as a database, for whoever who wants to know where they can start from whatever they may need will be there for them. Like a community where they can meet and talk. I am sure the platform will have a lot of information internally and externally.” stating that creatives need to remember that “Never let your creativity subside or not be recognized, you keep trying until one day it will be there.”
Her biggest advice for bright creatives is, “Do not give up. If a person is creative, they should never give up… Never. Even if you feel like you are not noticed or you have no chance, these days, we can’t accept people saying there is no chance. We have a tool in our hands; the Internet is everywhere.”
With the bright minds backing the inception of the Saudi Style Council, the platform is ready to pave the way for the bright fashion future of the country.
SSC has produced over a hundred up-and-coming local creatives in less than a year, worked with regional and worldwide properties and brands, and consulted on several international projects. Providing a genuine point of view from the Kingdom has been and will continue to be the common thread that runs through all of our initiatives! And we feel that the best way to do so is to keep hiring and giving opportunities to local creatives and talents!