DUBAI — While most of Dubai’s malls are filled with international brands, some retailers here have taken a gamble on local designers — and realized a payoff.
Consider the Level Shoe District, the world’s largest shoe store, launched last year at Dubai Mall by the Chalhoub Group: It counts Jordanian footwear brand Aennis Eunis as one of its top sellers.
“The community of shoe lovers is here to discover,” the store’s general manager Rania Masri told a panel discussion at the third edition of Fashion Forward, a event that showcases the work of promising designers based in the Middle East. “We are happy to offer a platform to the emerging designers both regionally and internationally.”
Fern Mallis, the originator of New York Fashion Week and an industry consultant, shared her experience creating a platform for New York’s design community. “Dubai is in the right place at the right time. The Middle East is one of the fashion industry’s most vibrant markets,” she said. “A third of the world’s couture clients come from the Middle East. The world’s top fashion brands are not only courting you, they are here.”
Still, local designers will face the same challenges their peers in New York did two decades ago: identifying potential buyers and an audience to support them, Mallis said.
In Dubai, regional brands have taken a backseat to international names. Fashion Forward aims to help designers streamline their offerings to better appeal to local and international buyers. Styled after traditional fashion weeks, the event includes three days of couture and ready-to-wear shows, an exhibition space featuring regional accessories brands and a series of lectures.
Bong Guerrero, founder and chief executive officer of Fashion Forward, said the event is evolving to respond to the needs of the design community. “A lot of designers here start off very ‘mom-and-pop,’ working out of small studios and apartments with one or two tailors. They need financial support,” he said.
This season organizers partnered with Eureeca.com to launch crowdsourced campaigns for regional talents.
Accessory designer Roula Ghalayini of Poupee Couture was the first to successfully use the service. Since January, she has raised more than $100,000 via the site, exceeding her investment goal.
The designer, whose bags are handcrafted in Beirut, was featured in British Vogue as one of the hottest 100 bags last year. Despite the media attention, she lacked the funds to fully develop the proper marketing material to attract an array of buyers. “I was very focused on product development,” she said.
The Emperor 1688 — designed by three brothers of Iranian origin: Babak, Farhan and Haman Golkar — was another breakout brand at the event. The trio began with a line of tailored men’s wear and last year added women’s rtw. Now that their clothes are selling strongly at Saks Fifth Avenue and Galeries Lafayette in Dubai, they are poised to take their brand to a global market, partnering with Marvin Traub and Associates for representation in New York showrooms.
“There is a lot of caution for brands born from here, when you are not showing in Paris and Milan or part of that clique. But we are very proudly a brand born from Dubai, and soon it will have its own power,” said Babak Golkar.
Donatella Versace will receive the International Award at the 2018 @cfda awards, which were announced tonight. Tap link in bio for a list of all the nominees and honorees. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @rahirezvanistudio )
The 2018 @cfda Awards nominees are out! @virgilabloh for @off____white for is nominated for Womenswear Designer of the Year. Tap link in bio for all the nominees. #wwdnews #wwdfashion ( 📷: @simonelezzi)
@chanelofficial is suing high-end vintage retailer @whatgoesaroundnyc for trademark infringement, a move that could cost the retailer millions. The French fashion house claims that it’s not only unintentionally sold counterfeit goods on occasion, but that it’s “gone out of its way to create an association with Chanel,” which does not exist. Read Chanel’s statement on WWD.com #wwdnews (@aitorrosasphoto)
Exclusive: Guillaume Henry has left @ninaricci, the fashion house said on Thursday. “After three years of mutually gratifying creative collaboration, Nina Ricci and Guillaume Henry have together decided that the designer will depart the house after the presentation of the fall-winter 2018-19 collection,” Ricci said in a statement. Get all the details on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
“When Bella enters a room all heads turn,” said @peterphilipsmakeup, creative and image director for @diormakeup. Last night, the two celebrated the product launch of Dior’s Lacquer Plump in Los Angeles with other celebs like @parisjackson, @winnieharlow and more. Head to WWD.com to see the rest of the photos from the night (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
“These shirts are an art form, it’s about getting the message out to as many people as you can. It breaks down the pretentiousness of the art gallery,” says Kumasi Sadiki, cofounder of @ebayontheblock, a store that sells merchandise by New York artists who are shifting their attention to clothes as a wearable medium. Pictured here is a design by artist @joegarvey_, one of the first to spearhead this movement. Head to WWD.com to read @mistywhitesidell full story on how their designs have become merch for the underground elite #wwdfashion
@netaporter is dedicating a part of its website – called the Fine Jewelry and Watch Destination – to highlight its high-end jewelry. The hub will feature products on the site, as well as incorporate styling advice and educational content about high-priced jewelry items. Get more details on WWD.com. #wwdaccessories
For “The Cher Show,” an upcoming musical based on @cher’s life and career, @bobmackie is once again collaborating with the singer in designing the costumes. For decades, Mackie has designed glitzy stage costumes and red carpet looks for the 71-year-old Grammy winner. Pictured here is a sketch of some of the pieces in the wardrobe of the musical, which is set to debut in Chicago on June 12 before making its way to Broadway #wwdeye