DOHA, QATAR - MARCH 28: (L to R) Pierpaolo Piccioli, Diane von Furstenberg, Naomi Campbell and Victoria Beckham attend the Fashion Trust Arabia Prize awards ceremony on March 28, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Fashion Trust Arabia)

LONDON — Fashion Trust Arabia has announced the 25 finalists who will compete for its second annual awards which take place in Qatar on March 25.

The finalists, who were chosen from more than 570 applications, work across the jewelry, accessories and ready-to-wear categories and represent 13 countries in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.

A wide range of designers from across the Arab world have made the shortlist, and they are bound by their commitment to social responsibility.

“It is so impressive to see how mindful they are about the future of fashion,” said Tania Fares, founder of the initiative. “There is also a huge social responsibility highlighted in a lot of their brands, whether it be designing through communities or preserving artisanal craftsmanship.”

The designers in the rtw category include Jordan-based label Nafsika Skourti; Sudanese Omer Asim Jamal; Beirut-based Emergency Room which addresses the environmental emergency by working with vintage and deadstock fabrics only; Born in Exile by Ibrahim Shebani; and the contemporary label Beige by Muna al Othaiman.

There is also a dedicated eveningwear category that includes names such as Bazza Alzouman, Sara Mrad, Yousef Akbar, Ilyes Ouali and Shahira Lasheen.

In the accessories category the finalists include footwear designers Andrea Wazen, Reem Hamed of Ramla and Najeeba Hayat of Liudmila, who first came onto the spotlight following a successful collaboration with Avigail Collins, a stylist that has worked with Rihanna. Accessories labels Elbe and Zakaria Bendriouich, which both work with dead stock, also feature in the accessories category.

The five labels in the dedicated jewelry category are Alexandra Hakim, Ammani, Kamushki, Oumaem and Tamarzizt.

The FTA also spotlights graduate talent in a “Debut” category, which this year includes Ahmed Serour, Fatima Al Baker, Intissar Baiz, Maya Chantout and Zeid Hijazi.

“The most common challenges faced by designers is production, manufacturing and international exposure. It is incredibly difficult to be a brand fully based and operating in the Middle East, with the limited access to unique and sustainable fabrics or production costs,” added Fares, explaining that FTA will be working to give the winning designers “the exposure they deserve,” as well as ongoing business mentorship by the initiative’s retail partners Matchesfashion and Maison de Mode.

The finalists were chosen by the FTA’s advisory board, while a group of judges that includes both local and major international names will be selecting the winners on March 25. Returning members include the likes of Olivier Rousteing and Pierpaolo Piccioli, while earlier this year the organization also announced a new set of names including Elie Saab, Christian Louboutin, Marc Jacobs, Michèle Lamy and Carine Roitfeld.

“We trust the advisory board to select based on many criteria, such as brand identity, potential for growth and development, and market positioning. As the brands are so diverse, they take into consideration many of these criteria when reviewing,” Fares said. “We believe the diversity of the judges will work very well with the diverse talent.”

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