Fashion in the Middle East isn’t obscured like many would assume. It’s not always just black burqas and staidness. In fact, fashion of all varieties is paramount for men, women, children, pets and even personal property. But for many creative artisans such as fashion designers, breaking through to the world with an innovative fashion perspective is far from possible. Or so we thought.
In retrospect, designers from the Middle East find it arduous to advance through to the U.S. and overseas. Granted that priority and prominence go to citizens and designers within Europe and the Western lands, the Middle East is often neglected and overlooked. With Dolce & Gabbana’s hijab and abayas premier last year, more people associated the Middle East culture with fashion, which honestly put Vogue Arabia and fashion in the Middle East alive.
When we see designers like Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad, and Abed Mahfouz, much hope shines for aspiring artists in the Middle East, so much so, that the Arab Fashion Council has decided to branch its office to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This decision has helped many underprivileged talents to be appreciated, not struggling to be seen or heard.
The branch country director, Layla Issa Abuzaid said the “council would open the doors to the foreign investment flow into the country.” This move would not only keep Riyadh on the fashion map but also open up opportunities for unprecedented job prospects and creative industries, all with an emerging youth to seize the possibilities.
Arwa Al-Banawi, an Arabian designer from Paris Fashion Week said this shift in power will bring many artists hope and options. “I’m seeing a lot of designers coming out of Saudi Arabia and it’s about time we had this platform to showcase our work.”
For long, fashion events in the Middle East has been primarily targeted for women, and to be only seen by women, with little to no associations with foreign industry professionals such as buyers. But in the past several months, we’re seeing A-list celebrities, designers and models looking at the Middle East as a possible source of expansion and profitability. Bella Hadid was a recent feature.
Interestingly, the Middle East and Arabia have all the right ingredients for the perfect formula in the fashion system. Privately owned boutiques, local designers, buyers and most importantly, buying power can drive huge prosperity to the Middle East. Given the geographical location of the Middle East, the Arab Fashion Council sees this a striking opportunity.
Not only will the global alliances benefit Arabian designers, but surrounding countries with conventional hindrances may unite in creative ways, providing benefits to local families in the process. It’s a remarkable opportunity.