Inside Arab Luxury World: Discussing fashion trends in the Middle East
A fashionable forecast
Arab Luxury World 2016 is over for another year, but the topics of discussion are still fresh and fashionably on point. One coversational highlight resonating across the Middle East industry came from a panel discussion during the two-day event, which focused on Fashion Trends in the GCC. Moderated by Buro 24/7 Middle East's Editor-in-Chief Shannon Wylie, the panelists included high-profile individuals including Hatel Alakeel, the Saudi entreprenuer and designer of Toby, Alia Khan, the Islamic Fashion and Design Council Chairwoman, Mimi Fraser, Managing Director of Baraboux, Nez Gebreel the CEO of the Dubai Design & Fashion Council and Francois Schweitzer, General Manager of Business Development Retail at the Chalhoub Group.
Speaking about luxury consumer trends in the region, Fraser sparked the conversation saying, "The woman here is playful and excited and wants to buy something different and that is the most important factor. We should just appeal to her as a woman." This point was echoed by Alakeel, who said: "The women in the region know fashion and know what they want. We cannot kid around with them. What we have to do is to come up with something different and special. It's about being new and fresh."
Inevitably, the discussion gravitated towards Islamic fashion and how that has impacted on the local fashion scene. "A lot of the regional designers do not want to be labelled as modest or Islamic designers; they just want to be known as designers," commented Gebreel.
With international brands like Dolce & Gabbana tapping into the market, the panel discussed if it was a move that will likely be followed by others. "There is a lot of spending power, with the demand for Islamic fashion and we need to hear them and we need to understand what that means," explained Khan. "Domenico Dolce saw it as a business opportunity. He studied the market and understood that there is a Muslim clientele that has certain parametres that they simply cannot break. What you will see now is a movement for more fashionable styles and looks inorder to express their personality more."
As for future fashion trends, it seems the panel agreed that it's about going small but focused. "I think this market is heading towards boutique brands. We've gone from really big malls to smaller shopping centres," said Fraser. "We can see it in F&B. People are craving that originality in everything. We are moving towards a curated selection. I think that boutiques can really tell the story about what people like here."
Gebreel added that it's the right time for regional designers to gain recognition. "It is now all about creating something that is bespoke. Now the people in the region are looking to support the local designers. We need to make sure that we're exporting and not just importing."
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