MILAN — Luxury fashion aims to be an agent of peace and development in the Middle East, according to the Arab Fashion Council and supporters of its Huawei Arab Fashion Week. More than 20 designers from 10 countries — from Italy to Sweden — will show at the third edition of HAFW, which takes place Oct. 6 to 10 at the Meydan Hotel in Dubai, the five-star home to the Dubai World Cup horse race.
Italian fashion patriarch Mario Boselli, who is honorary president of both Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana and the Arab Fashion Council, explained Monday at a presentation here that he had accepted the Arab Fashion Council role to “realize a dream, a vision of creating a pipeline, a supply chain of the countries that belong to the Fashion Council.”
Boselli said Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt already have significant textile manufacturing, while Lebanon, Jordan and Syria are known for sewing and embroidery. Boselli added that the effort to validate these areas and create stronger ties with the Italian and European fashion system was not about “solidarity,” but birthing a new fashion Goliath.
“Competition today is not between countries, but among macro-systems,” he said. “We want to create a pan-European-Mediterranean zone.”
The plan is “part of the strategy to move away from oil dependency toward more creative economies,” explained Jacob Abrian, founder and chief executive officer of the Arab Fashion Council. He said the initiative promotes peace by cultivating trade and cooperation across Arab countries and in one case, helping hundreds of Syrian refugees in Jordan who were qualified seamstresses.
Abrian said the Islamic luxury market is worth more than $484 billion, according to Thomson Reuters State of the Global Islamic Economy Report.
“We have to increase this,” said Arab Fashion Council media adviser Mahmood Bin Karam Al Farsi, who is from the United Arab Emirates. He said more than $2 billion was being invested in logistics and infrastructure for the fashion sector in the region.
HAFW is promoted as the world’s first platform for “ready couture” — a term coined to describe a very high-end niche already familiar to extremely wealthy, fashion-obsessed Middle Eastern customers, which Abrian places somewhere between Parisian haute couture and top-end designer prêt-à-porter in Milan. It describes nearly haute couture collections that can be manufactured and are ready for purchase in the store, but can also be personalized at the request of the customer to make the garment even more exclusive.
Abrian reported that elite Middle Eastern men are even more obsessed with fashion than women, often donning different outfits in a single day for private gatherings or meetings.
“It is not unusual to dedicate as many as five rooms in a villa [home] just for wardrobes,” said Abrian.
Menswear and unisex collections will debut at this edition of HAFW, rounding out women’s wear and children’s wear collections that are already mainstays of the event.