Khaoula Ghanem, Dubai
Following the dominance of mini bags and chunky sneakers, an unexpected new accessory has risen to the forefront: Gloves.
The retro fashion trend has become increasingly popular with celebrities in recent weeks, with everyone from Beyonce and Blake Lively to Rihanna and Ariana Grande donning the old school accessory. Opera gloves also had a runway renaissance of sorts, appearing in Valentino’s Spring 2020 line and Kim Jones’ tribute collection to Judy Blame at Dior.
But how do you make a garment that gained popularity during the 16th century resonate with Gen Z? Enter Jeddah-born, New York-based designer Alaa Balkhy. The former graphic designer recently launched her eponymous label, Alaa bint Hashim — the grown-up older sister of the now-defunct Fyunka — with a strong focus on delicate, hand sewn gloves that are sure to entice anyone.
Speaking to Arab News, Balkhy revealed that her decision to incorporate gloves into her range of vintage pieces came after she experienced her first winter abroad as an adult. “They just became an integral part of my style,” shared the 30-year-old, adding, “Obviously, I kept in mind that the gloves and their fabrics have to be wearable, ethereal and comfortable.”
Featuring transparent, hand-embroidered lace designs in subdued hues like pistachio and lavender, the ultra-feminine designs can be worn alone with a gown or alongside a stack of rings and bracelets for those who really wish to stand out — and they are thin enough to ensure you can still use your iPhone.
With each piece produced at Ot Kutyr, a fashion house in Jeddah that embraces slow fashion and supporting Saudi designers and artisans, the gloves go beyond providing protection from environmental factors such as the biting cold and sun’s UV rays to preserving local craftsmanship and uplifting the community.
“When Alaa Bint Hashim was coming into its own, one of the main aspects and missions of the brand was to have it based on slow fashion and ethics, which include fair trade and workers’ rights,” the designer explained.
While wearing gloves is not a necessity or a fashionable habit like it used to be, Balkhy said that she designs for “the woman who is nostalgic of the past and its glamour.”
As for her piece of advice for those who wish to wear gloves for the first time without looking like they’re dressed in a period costume? “I would suggest picking gloves with a color that contrasts well with at least half of your closet, to make sure they feel comfortable and fit your wrists and fingers perfectly and to avoid long nails, especially if the fabric is see-through.”