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Fashion in the age of Kash5aful
April 25, 2018 | 5:25 PM
by Salim Al Afifi
Oman-based brand Kash5aful. Photo by Mazin Al Awira
 
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It brings joy knowing that we have evolved in our perception over the art of fashion and have become more open to change, especially for one that challenges the status quo. In Oman, fashion has been a female-dominated field for years, until the likes of Ahmed Al Balushi proved to society that men can become headliners in such fields, and even reach new and exciting heights.

Many people view the world of fashion as an elegant industry full of elegant people, but if we put aside the glitz and the glamour, we’d see that it has a deeper substance that transcends the idea of clothing. It represents responsibility, seeking perfection, working hard, solving problems, and standing out in a crowd. And that is exactly who Ahmed Al Balushi is.

“Being a fashion designer is more than fabrics and sketches, it’s about feeding your soul with creative energy and introducing beautiful creations to the world,” he said.

Ahmed is a fashion designer and the founder of Kash5aful, a brand that specialises in designing ready-to-wear and capsule collections that carry the identity of modern Arabia accompanied with high-end, contemporary aesthetics. The name is pronounced “Kashkhaful” and is a wordplay in Arabic that means very chic: chic-ful.



The young designer started his journey at the age of 18 and decided to chase his dream of becoming a successful designer. Even though he studied engineering in college, it did not stand in the way of reaching his goal.

Ever since he was a kid, he had a unique personality that portrayed this young kid who danced to the beats of a different drummer. His fashionable character and fascination with fabrics drew him into fashion. He began viewing the world from a fashion angle, literally.

Before diving into ateliers, Ahmed began testing his creative brushes in digital art, where he’d graphically design beautiful shapes that later became part of his very first collection.

“I’ve always loved design. Anything that had colours in it, I had to put my head into it and explore it,” said Ahmed.

What many of his current buyers might not know is that he started designing casual T-shirts with his digital art before moving to more elaborate pieces. His debut collection comprised t-shirts with Arabic calligraphy and nuances.

He started slow. Took his time. And studied the market ideally and equipped himself with the fundamentals of fashion before upgrading his craft. “I wanted to see if I have the strength required to do this, and wanted to see how people would accept it,” he explained.

After releasing another collection of T-shirts with 3D designs, his brand became acknowledged by many street-fashion lovers around Muscat. He realised that there was loads of potential to turn his dream into reality, which was designing ready-to-wear pieces that screamed elegance.

In 2016, he decided to market his brand on a larger scale and give his loyal followers a peek into his new world, which was elevated with contemporary designs and architectural pieces for both men and women.

As we entered 2017, Kash5aful saw a revamp for Ahmed and his brand’s identity. It was the same hardworking, loving and social Ahmed that we know, except this time around, he had his head in the game, targeting global success. He did more collections, runway shows, and trunk shows to showcase his edgy creations, letting us know that he truly is a force to be reckoned with, and given the fact that he’s a male designer, it added a tonne of credit to his name.

In November 2017, his global journey took off. He participated in his first European fashion show at Geneva, where he showcased his black-and-gold collection and got introduced to European media, which led to something even bigger: A dream for every living and breathing designer on this planet.

As he continued to work on his clothes, something unexpected took place. He was invited to take part in a fashion show that is the pinnacle of fashion designing and a runway to some of the world’s biggest fashion houses: The 2018 London Fashion Week.

At the event, he revealed his latest collection in a themed runway segment called “Stories from Arabia”, where contemporary Arab designers are carefully selected to present their high-end creations on the runways of one of fashion’s most celebrated events.

The collection introduced us to a new and daring side of Ahmed. His pieces sported red, black, and nude palettes, and carried bold cuts and designs that were made with hints of glamour. It was a collection everyone was waiting to see, a collection that portrayed his potential and creativity as an artiste. “I can neither explain nor describe the feeling of what I have achieved or where I am standing now,” said Ahmed, adding, “I always knew that I will get somewhere someday, but never thought it would happen this soon.”

Ahmed Al Balushi is definitely paving the way for other young male Omani designers who aspire to become leaders in this field, and proving to them that men can also become household names in Oman.

Some of his future plans are to share his knowledge of fashion with fellow male designers in Oman who are as passionate and dedicated as he is. His work and brand have already been featured in business curriculums of local colleges across Muscat as a successful case study. He is a true role model. Though it is challenging and competitive, Ahmed is determined to continue climbing the ladder of success and become the best fashion designer Oman will ever witness. —[email protected]

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