Raga Malak Is the Fashion Brand Celebrating Arab Creatives

Raga Malak Is the Fashion Brand Celebrating Arab Creatives

“Growing up Middle Eastern, your family usually strays you from doing certain things, like listening to certain music or wearing particular clothing,” says stylist and creative director Gadir Rajab, explaining how it’s “under the guise that it’s shaytan (‘devil’) haram (‘forbidden’) acts.” As a response, he’s created a fashion brand that both challenges and celebrates his background, joining forces with best friend Raquelle Saba to create Raga Malak.

As the children of immigrants whose parents sought refuge in Australia during the Lebanese Civil War, the two conceptualized this project to reconnect with their motherland and shed a more positive light on their Middle Eastern roots, which is something they say is largely missing from western fashion right now.

Initially developed in 2019 from Beirut, Rajab and Saba moved Raga Malak to Australia due to Lebanon’s political and economic unrest. This tension is explored throughout the brand’s clothes, considering the friends’ “hybrid identities and the complexities of the common alienation that immigrant children face,” the brand bio details. “Too Arab in the West, too western in the East.”

Three years later, Raga Malak is ready to launch with a campaign shot in Berlin this summer by Viktor Naumovski. The e-commerce, which is coming soon (though a camo trucker hat is now available), was recently photographed in Sydney with a Lebanese photographer, videographer and models. “We really wanted to find some Middle Eastern models, as I find it quite limited in fashion,” Rajab says of the street-cast lineup. “Supporting and celebrating Arab creatives wherever we can is part of the brand’s message.”

Raga Malak’s designs incorporate Jinn artwork, “which is Arabic/Islamic mythology as a portrayal of the forbidden or “haram,” as Rajab notes. “Our clothing celebrates Arabic writing, which has been displayed in a more threatening light in the West due to ongoing conflict. The clothing is more revealing, which for some is policed against wearing at the fear of being scrutinized as ‘too western.’”

For women, Raga Malak proposes flutter sleeves and plunging necklines, some as lace dresses and others in matching sets with an emphasis on asymmetrical hemlines. There’s also barely there bikinis and tightly corseted tops in both denim prints and fluorescent orange stripes (that’d look great on Addison Rae or CLIP, both early followers on Instagram). “For the mens, it’s all the stuff I wear religiously,” Rajab says. “Sexy tanks and hats never get old.”

Photos courtesy of Raga Malak