Our fashion editor investigates Dubai’s plans for becoming a globally recognised fashion city.
Friday’s fashion editor Lindsay Judge investigates the flourishing fashion industry in the UAE and shares her predictions for this year
When it comes to moving forward, the UAE has no shortage of ambition. Whether it’s a new building, shopping mall or – as we saw last year – a canal, our country of residence makes the impossible possible and it does it quickly too. Just 40 years ago Dubai was a small city surrounded by desert, and we can all see today the metropolis it has become in that short time. While Dubai’s tourism is thriving, its fashion industry is in a growth period. With big ideas of becoming a globally recognised fashion city, there’s no reason why Dubai can’t crack that fashion barrier and be listed with the likes of London, Paris and New York as a key fashion city in the future. While this might be a long way off yet, there are small but significant changes happening in an aim to get international recognition for the incredible design talent we have here, but at the same time nurturing and looking after the potential we have locally in the UAE.
‘The UAE is more than coming into its own, particularly with the internal emphasis on homegrown designers,’ says Jane Monnington Boddy, director of Colour and Womenswear at trend forecaster WGSN. ‘For this part of the world [the Middle East], it is absolutely correct to say that it is and will continue to be a fashion hub.’
Here are our predictions for the fashion industry, home and abroad, in 2017.
Every year my friends ask me the question: ‘When will Dubai have something that’s as big as New York Fashion Week?’ Each time my response is the same. ‘Dubai doesn’t need to copy other cities, because we have something really unique here.’
While the likes of New York and London fashion weeks are an ultimate goal for fashion designers around the world, what I love about the UAE and its fresh, growing market is how we look after and promote homegrown talent. Fashion Forward has become a great platform with local designers – both small and larger businesses. ‘Fashion Forward was developed to address a specific need that we identified in the regional market – for a fashion movement or platform that would celebrate regional designers,’ says Bong Guerrero, CEO and co-founder of FFWD. ‘Combined with the support of our loyal sponsors and the international speakers we host every year, we are confident FFWD will continue to be the leading platform for regional talent [in 2017].’
We can expect to see more international buyers and press attending Fashion Forward this year with the hope of getting even more of our local brands recognised.
‘FASHION FORWARD was developed to address a specific need that we identified in the regional market – for a fashion MOVEMENT or platform that would CELEBRATE REGIONAL DESIGNERS’
While Fashion Forward will continue to promote local talent in the region, Arab Fashion Week was developed two years ago to showcase international talent. Bringing designers from Europe and beyond, the five-day event will take place again this year from May 16-20, with the designers yet to be announced. While it is important for the UAE to have a successful fashion week, it can also have a negative effect and become confusing to consumers if there are too many events happening. For 2017, I hope the focus will be on one or two major events that will be recognised internationally.
Fashion Forward has the local angle well and truly covered, but I would love to see Arab Fashion Week (or Dubai Fashion Week, which is rumoured to be making a return this year), pushing the international angle. With the right investment and marketing, is there space for a platform for established international designers to choose to show their collections, as other major cities do? Victoria Beckham for example, has shown her designs in New York since her first runway show, despite being from London. While getting Beckham to show her collection here is a long way off, other designers are beginning to look at different cities (Saint Laurent recently showed a collection in LA rather than Paris). So perhaps well-known fashion designers might choose to show their collections in the UAE in the future, if we have a platform for them to do so.
Above: Amato by Furne One at Fashion Forward. Below: Italian designer Giada Curti Arab Fashion Week
Street style fashion as well as Emirati designer Madiyah Al Sharqi (right) took centrestage at 2016’s edition of Fashion Forward