Meet Ascia Al Faraj, the Middle East’s most influential blogger
Recent tendencies showed that fashion industry is keen on searching inspiration in the national traditional heritage and socio-political culture. At the same time, Muslim fashion is starting to get a place in the fashion industry worldwide. Modern modest, which was born as an encouragement for Muslim women to be both covered and fashionable, and beautiful, became a global trend. And dressing modestly absolutely does not mean compromising on style.
As it usually happens in the fashion world, a key role in promoting trends is played by bloggers. And there’s already a whole generation of the Muslims influencers on Instagram. They are young, cool and confident. They collaborate with the luxury brands and launch own clothing lines. Ahead of Middle East expansion, let’s meet one of the most successful and influential Muslim bloggers.
Ascia Al Faraj, 28, launched a blog in 2012. At that time, there weren't many Middle Eastern women who were very public in media, and Ascia’s intention was to put a face to regular Arab women. She has spent the past years becoming one of the Middle East’s most influential arbiters of style through her fashion blog, The Hybrids, and her social media flair.
She is the quintessential global citizen. Raised by a Kuwaiti father and American mother, Faraj spent formative years in Kuwait, the U.K. and the U.S. She was in her last semester of university when she started blogging.
Al Faraj, with over two million Instagram followers, is considered one of the Middle East’s most influential bloggers and social media influencers. A breakthrough came when she collaborated with Areej Al Kharafi, the owner of Fortune Cookie boutique. After the launch of the collection, Ascia got over 12,000 new followers within hours.
Unlike many members of the blogging community, Ascia tries to keep things real, by not editing out a pimple in an otherwise very glam makeup shot or speaking openly about her history with eating disorders. She comes across as personal and relatable in her posts, which range in topic from pregnancy advice to beauty buys (Ascia is married and has two children).
«I think that we need to go back to being as natural as we possibly can in our day-to-day lives. We are all guilty of putting forth stylized photos of ourselves dressed up with perfect lighting and angles that make us look thinner,» she said.
She is known for her remarkable style. In a sea of regal, princess dresses and flowing skirts, Faraj's armful of tattoos, penchant for sneakers and streetwear made her stand out amongst other Muslim fashion bloggers. She perfectly balances modest style with snazzy touches without looking like she has made any effort at all. It was expected that her uniqueness garnered attention of many major brands.
In 2016 she became an unpaid ambassador for TAG Heuer. Al Faraj said that the brand is a good fit for her glamorous, multitasking lifestyle.
“Their brand creed of tough but luxurious is why I choose TAG Heuer over brands considered more ‘feminine,’ because I need a timepiece as multifaceted as I am,” she said. “Sometimes I want to flit about in heels, and other times I need to sprint to my next meeting in Converse.”
In 2017 she became the face of Net-a-Porter’s first regional spring/summer 2017 campaign targeting Middle Eastern customers. And the decision to recruit her is more than logical: Al-Faraj is one of the region’s most popular fashion bloggers.
Recently, luxury German label Aigner invited Ascia to join the brand’s creative director Christian Alexander Beck in designing the limited-edition Ascia bag.
The bag is a revamp of the classic Genoveva style and features a marble-print effect on hard-wearing smooth grain leather. In addition to the vintage clip lock logo that is the signature clasp of most Aigner bags, this edit comes with the words “Ascia exclusively for Aigner”, in rose gold, inscribed on the rear side of the pendant.
«The bag is a perfect reflection of my style and Aigner’s craftsmanship,» Ascia remained pleased with the cooperation.
Ascia is a true advocate for affordable fashion.
I think streetwear in its essence was meant to be accessible, but then it was "elevated" in the fashion industry and made really expensive.
She has already launched several collaborations with clothing brands, and even her own Modest by Ascia collection in partnership with Riva, a really popular retailer in the Middle East region, which outsells Zara in Saudi Arabia.
Besides, Ascia runs her own business. Her brand, Desert Baby, produces high-quality ring slings, and vegetable dyed Italian leather shoes for newborns to 18 months.
Her most recent fashion achievement is a capsule collection for Ramadan, which was just launched on Middle Eastern e-commerce platform Thouqi.com. Al Faraj created it in collaboration with the regional label Haa Designs.
The 20-piece collection channels Ascia’s signature modest and utilitarian style with structured kaftans, practical pocket, light-weight fabrics and a neutral palette in block colors.