nomad*, Qatar's first (and perhaps only) streetstyle blog was created by Carla Mallari and Ahmed El Sayed, both VCU Qatar alumni. After completing their internships abroad; Carla in Brooklyn, New York and Ahmed in Riga Latvia, they became inspired by the fashion scene in those cities. In addition to that, they noticed the increase in popularity of the streetstyle blogs on the Internet. As the duo puts it, "Having noticed the impact of these blogs on the industry and more importantly, the public roaming the streets, we wanted to apply this to our home base in Qatar."
If you're wondering, why they chose the name nomad*, it's because "We are wanderers of the planet and move from one place to the other. We are in a country that is blossoming with diversity and culture. We all come from different walks of life and somehow we incorporate different cultures and traditions other than our own into our lives, from mannerisms, slang terminologies, and yes, even the way we dress."
How would you describe the fashion scene in Qatar?
I’d say it’s very eclectic. We’ve got such a diverse community that everyone’s styles vary from one extreme to another. Some are in tune with their cultures, mixing in traditional clothing with a piece of accessory that’s unconventional to their culture. You’ll also see styles that are more influenced with current trends from the mainstream fashion scene.
When it comes to fashion trends, what has been the most popular one in Qatar?
I would say a lot of people here possess a very clean, stylish, preppy-like look. Everyone likes to look and feel sophisticated. Qatar’s got such a rich culture and they are very much in tune with it. Their culture influences their style in a great way.
Everyone here seems to be in tune with their current trends, while some follow a trend of their own, which is truly courageous of them.
Like Emiratis, Qatari women are known for dressing in the traditional abaya. How hard is it to express themselves fashionably yet still wear an abaya?
It’s not difficult at all! An outsider might think that would be the case, but having seen the amount of style these women posses through their abayas is truly admiring! Sometimes I wish I had owned an abaya myself!
Qatari women today have become more adventurous in the style of abayas they wear. It’s not just about the shoes or the handbag that they match it with anymore. I see modern abayas that uses alternative fabrics, other than just the ordinary black silk chiffon. They’ve figured out a way to customize and vary their abayas according to their taste yet retain the traditional and cultural uses for it.
What are some common misconceptions about Qatari women/men and the way they dress?
Everything they wear is just black and white. It sounds really plain and boring having said it like that. But, you have to able to look past that and see the detail carefully. Everyone puts a lot of time into the littlest detail. For instance, the women mostly now wear alternative cuts and fabrics to their abayas and the men wear a pair of vintage aviator glasses with their thobe.
What is the reaction you get when you ask people to be photographed for your blog?
They get really pleased and flattered, then they ask me what is it for, if I hadn’t said so. Once I mention that it’s for a fashion street-style blog, they get real excited! I love their reactions.
There are some cases though when they would refuse due to their cultural beliefs, which I fully respect and understand. Other than that, it’s a great way to find out a little about the nomads that live in Qatar.
Who – in all honesty – is more fun to photograph, a person wearing traditional clothing, or expats in Qatar who are more freely comfortable in expressing themselves fashionably?
I would say that expats are generally fun to photograph, their styles are so diverse. While a person wearing traditional clothing could just be as exciting, if not more. Sometimes, to me, it doesn’t come down to fashion anymore, looking as someone’s traditional clothing is also a way for me to learn about their culture and there are so many surprises to it, it’s amazing! And looking at it from a fashion designer’s stand point, we could learn a lot from traditional clothing and create new innovative designs from it.
– Alya N. Al-Othman
Images courtesy of nomad*