How Always and Nasiba Hafiz Created Saudi Arabia’s ‘Coolest’ Fashion Collection

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As for the periods, they are uncomfortable. Period. But in its latest campaign, menstrual hygiene brand Always was determined to use its knowledge of cooling materials to create clothes that would make this “time of the month” more bearable for people in Saudi Arabia. Experiencing scorching temperatures during an already uncomfortable time, it was important to prioritize comfort and create a conversation around the usually silent topic of menstruation.

Enter designer Nasiba Hafiz, who worked with Always and Leo Burnett to create “The Not Hot Collection”. The curated clothing line features a range of items, all made from refreshing fabrics with flowing silhouettes, bold colors and prints – to be both refreshing and stylish during ‘Hot Girl Summer’. With gloves, scrunchies, bib shorts and more, the collection keeps warmth technology in mind, favoring cooling materials and living comfort. To put each garment to the test, the campaign video was shot in the Saudi desert in August, pushing not only the garments but also the designs and equipment to the limit.

Natasha Maasri, Executive Creative Director of Leo Burnett Lebanon and Nasiba tell LBB’s Nisna Mahtani what it was like to celebrate a taboo subject in the region, the wonderful response they received and why spending 15 hours in the desert n is “no joke”.

LBB> What initially started the conversation around this collaboration? And what was the purpose of the project?

Natasha > We were challenged to create excitement around the innovation of Always Cool & Dry towels. The technology that goes into this product is amazing, but we had to engage people in an unexpected way as talking about sanitary napkins is still taboo in parts of the Middle East.

The ultimate goal of the collection is to make people more comfortable when temperatures get extreme. The cushion only covers part of their skin, but all of their skin is affected by the heat. So we set out to create the world’s first designer period clothing. This is completely new territory for Always, and we needed a super fresh designer to bring our idea to life.

LBB> How did you come up with the idea of ​​using pad fabric to create a “cool” clothing line?

Natasha> It’s all about the product and the unique properties of Always Cool & Dry. We used a fabric that mimics the performance of chamois and is also called “Cool & Dry”. The fabric even looks exactly like the top sheet of our cushion, the collection is practically a demonstration of our product.

LBB> Can you tell us more about the fabric and the color palette? What material(s) did you use, and what role did you always have to play?

Nasiba> The colors we picked with the Always team were very inspired by the pack, but in general, mixing colors and prints is part of my creative process and how I like to design. For the ‘Not Hot Collection’, the team trusted my vision and the way I wanted to translate that feeling of freshness and dryness that the towel gives into fashion. The design process took place during the hottest month of the year in Arabia, so I was inspired by the heat and felt its impact. I started thinking about colors and materials that would bring me joy and make me feel a little better. Flowing silhouettes were a big part of the design, and at the same time they had to be cool and active.

LBB> Were there designers or existing clothing collections that inspired the “cool” collection? Or maybe a fabric Always had experimented with?

Nasiba> Designing the ‘Not Hot Collection’ was a challenge at first as I had never worked with this type of fabric before. But I thought of Stella McCartney and the fact that as a vegetarian her vision as a designer is that she never harms animals, and I realized how sometimes the challenge is what makes someone something so special at the end.

LBB> The pieces are quite colorful and eye-catching, has that always been the vision? And how did you showcase the clothing collection in a playful way?

Natasha > The Always brand connection is intentionally playful and overt – we didn’t mean to be shy about saying this is a collaboration between Always x Nasiba Hafiz. Nasiba liked the challenge of working with plain but very bright fabrics, but the biggest appeal was the technology of the material and the idea of ​​marrying style and function.

The playful tone we chose for the name of the collection is a riff on the “Hot Girl Summer” trend, while the concept for the shoot was based on memes and videos shared by people in the GCC over the summer for complaining about the heat (eg. being able to bake cookies in the car, fry eggs on the sidewalk, foggy glasses). Every situation presented in both film and photography was entirely based on local internet culture. There was a very local comic overtone to these situations, which resonated very well with the women of the region.

LBB> The campaign was designed with Saudis in mind, how did that pay off for the casting of the spot? And why was it important to bring this conversation to the country?

Natasha> Introducing Saudis was key for us as we designed the collection with their needs in mind. We chose four Saudi influencers with interests in fashion, beauty and lifestyle. The funny thing is that in the past we struggled to find influencers to represent the brand in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia specifically, given the taboo surrounding vintage products. But with the Not Hot collection, they were super happy to be involved.

We also saw the opportunity to showcase the work of Saudi women. There is of course Nasiba, known for pushing the boundaries of fashion and designing for the modern Saudi woman, but also our photographer, Lina Mo. This was a collaboration entirely designed by and for GCC women.

LBB> What were the temperatures on site? And how did the models feel in their Always x Nasiba Hafiz “Not Hot Collection” clothes?

Natasha> June to September are the hottest months with temperatures easily in the 40s. Filming was quite difficult: 15 hours in the Saudi desert in August, it’s no joke, our swimming pool started to melt and the monitors overheated. We had to work around that, taking a lot of breaks, for the people but also sometimes for the material.

Getting influencers to experience how the clothes felt on their skin in extreme temperatures was actually a very strong “torture test.” One of them said, “I feel like I’m carrying a cloud”.

LBB> How did people react to the campaign? Were there any reactions that surprised you?

Natasha> The reactions have been great, we hadn’t seen this type of commitment, especially given the taboo nature of the subject. I think the most surprising part was the number of positive reactions, the collaboration was really something unexpected and it was very well received, I would even say that they loved it. The collection is sold on the Nasiba website and each time an item is purchased, a sample of the Always Cool & Dry pack is sent along with the piece, so people can feel the full Not Hot experience.

LBB> Anything else you would like to share with us?

Natasha> The collection has many very carefully thought out details, such as pockets that perfectly fit the cushion and accessories, driving gloves and car seats to protect the skin from the scorching temperatures inside the car, bike shorts to wear under dresses or even hair. scrunchies – everything the modern Saudi woman needs to be “not hot” in the summer or during her period.

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