Whose glam­our is it any­way?

Michael Kors opened its first out­let in Beirut. That is great news, but the pow­ers that be need to in­fuse more money in in­dige­nous fash­ion de­sign­ing tal­ent

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE -

Even as Amer­i­can brand Michael Kors opened its first store in Le­banon a few weeks ago, and even as more fash­ion brands start to court the Mid­dle East, some ques­tions re­main unan­swered. How ag­gres­sively will brands lo­calise to in­clude a more Mid­dle East­ern flavour? Or will fash­ion al­ways re­main a toy of the wealthy to sate their Oc­ci­den­tal fetish?

The an­swer is not as straight as it seems, but there could some promis­ing so­lu­tions in our jour­ney to find­ing that an­swer: a re­cent ar­ti­cle lo­cated seven Mid­dle East­ern de­sign­ers as the names to reckon with in the near fu­ture: The Em­peror 1688 ( three brothers of Ira­nian ori­gin, the line fea­tures slick pat­terned suits); Poupee Cou­ture (ac­ces­sory de­signer Roula Gha­layini’s candy- coloured clutches were in­cluded in Bri­tish

Vogue’s ‘Hottest Bags’ list); Kage (launched by besties Arwa Ab­del­hadi and Basma Abu Ghazaleh, Kage’s de­signs vacil­late be­tween min­i­mal and recher­ché); Rami Kadi (Le­banese-raised Rami Kadi’s gowns are ready for the next Academy Awards, if the buzz is to be be­lieved); Za­reena (in­spired by Mid­dle East­ern and In­dian mo­tifs); Bashar As­saf (at­mo­spheric prints and sym­met­ri­cal de­signs that daz­zle); Jean Louis Sabaji (Google this for your­self to be­lieve the magic). Th­ese are only some of the names – lists, as they say, are sub­jec­tive.

So while Dubai is all set to be­come one of the fash­ion (read: re­tail) cap­i­tals of the world, it will also be­hoove lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to pro­mote lo­cal de­sign­ers with even more fer­vour. Per­haps sub­si­dis­ing up- and- com­ing Mid­dle East­ern de­sign­ers so that their brands can with­stand the delu­sional Expo 20/20 real es­tate rates that we have been del­uged by might be a good start­ing point. This sug­ges­tion is not too far from how au­thor­i­ties are in­deed look­ing to take the de­sign in­dus­try for­ward.

For in­stance, con­struc­tion has al­ready be­gun on a mas­sive project called the Dubai De­sign Dis­trict or D3. The first phase of con­struc­tion on the 1.7 mil­lion square-me­tre site will cost around $1 bil­lion and D3 will be ready by 2015. The Mall of the Emi­rates, on the other hand, is in­vest­ing $1 bil­lion over the next five years with the aim of adding new stores and dou­bling sales.

Fur­ther­more, the num­bers jus­tify the need to pro­mote lo­cal de­sign­ing tal­ent: a lit­tle more than half of all ma­jor in­ter­na­tional re­tail­ers have out­lets in Dubai; of $7.6 bil­lion spent in the Mid­dle East on fash­ion in 2012, almost 33% was spent in Dubai alone, ac­cord­ing to con­sult­ing firm Bain and Company. For­eign­ers ac­count for 90 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion in Dubai; over 200 na­tion­al­i­ties are rep­re­sented here. Thus, if shop­ping on such a stag­ger­ing scale is per­mit­ted to go taxfree, there is no harm in open­ing our doors wider to in­dige­nous fash­ion de­sign­ing tal­ent. After all, how many De­ban­hams dis­count sales can one wait for when there is so much lo­cal cou­ture to posh up your wardrobe?

Per­sian Panache...The Ira­nian trio that com­prises ‘The Em­peror 1688’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.