Dubai’s most dapper dude, 25-year-old Alii Muhammed has carved a name for himself for style with a blog that commands 40,000 unique views a month and has brands lining up to lend him clothes.
Founded in September 2014, Alii Muhammed within three days of going live attracted commercial attention from Armani Exchange and two weeks later Louis Vuitton. Since then Alii has never looked back. It is no disadvantage that he is good looking, charming, passionate about clothes and blessed with a strong visual sense. Success means he can now have suits and shoes handmade to order and live a lifestyle commensurate with the character he has created through his imagery and self-presentation.
In reality, he is far less formal and serious than his carefully constructed online persona suggests, more boyish and animated. Alii was born and brought up in Dubai and studied PR at the Middlesex university and acquired an MA in Global Media and Communications as well. University transformed him. “Growing up I was very fixed and unified in terms of visual identity – I had to fit into a box”, he explains.
“When I went to university, I was exposed to such a variety of styles online that I would not have taken the same path in life as I have now”.
From hanging around Arab Fashion Week watching what young fashion graduates were doing in menswear, he started experimenting himself – at one stage even sporting an elegant black tuxedo.
That was the start of what he calls his style journey, finding out what suited his body shape, what looked and felt good and telling everybody about it. At Arab Fashion Week “as an observer” looking sharp in a Tom Ford Tux and tie, he attracted photographers including one from Esquire magazine.
This led to the magazine voting him the second best-dressed man in Dubai in 2016 followed by GQ naming him as an “influencer” to watch. “That along with the encouragement of friends gave me the confidence to start my instagram page.
His instagram page has trained him to know what works for the camera and the importance of background. “Cheap products don’t shoot well,” he says. He doesn’t feel comfortable in jeans but swears by a good white shirt and Acne blazers. “I never study trends. I know instantly what suits my body shape and me. I don’t need anyone to guide me”, he says in a matter-of- fact way.
A beacon for impressionable young guys insecure about their style, he advises them against trying too hard: “You don’t need to wear crazy colors or ties with funky prints or cartoons” and encourages more experimentation. Well organized, well groomed and orderly, he loves ironing, keeps his suits in suit bags and his shoes in shoetrees.
Alii’s styles heroes include Tom Ford and Zegna. He insists that he is selective. He provides two editorial stories for his blog every week, has an Instagram following of 40,000 and four full-time employees.
Next year he will launch his own range of grooming products and there are plans for accessories. “The fashion industry has not managed to communicate style to the ordinary guy in the street. I and other bloggers in an open space are communicating something personal in real time that is free and accessible – and alternatives to street wear.”
We wish Alii Muhammed the best of luck and you can find him on AliiMuhd on instagram.