30 Seconds On The Business Of…Fashion

Gulf Business speaks to Bong Guerrero, founder and CEO of Fashion Forward.



How much is the Gulf fashion industry worth? Is it set to grow?

The Middle East is one of the international fashion industry’s most vibrant markets. Despite the global economic crisis, the world’s top 250 retailers experienced over 40 per cent increase in sales in the MENA region in 2011. The UAE’s retail sales are forecasted to grow from an estimated $31.01 billion in 2011 to $41.22 billion by 2015.

However, we need to make sure that this spending is channeled to local designers, and not international brands that already receive worldwide recognition.

Is enough being done to promote the UAE as a fashion capital?

This region is still growing, as is its fashion industry. What is needed here are events that bring together designers with retailers, buyers, educators, and other industry supporters to nurture and grow the industry.

How easy is it for upcoming designers to secure investment?

It’s a challenge, which is why we see more capsule collections or one-off work by regional designers. Fashion Forward is a platform which will enable designers and potential investors to meet and explore areas of collaboration. For one designer, on their own, to attract the attention of international buyers could be a struggle, whereas we are presenting them as a collective – as a group they will have more visibility and a stronger voice to attract the attention they need and deserve.

What needs to be done to grow the fashion sector?

Regional designers need to be able to facilitate a larger scale of production, achieve recognition and attract buyers outside their home markets. They also need the discipline and structure of regular opportunities to show their collections.

What are the biggest fashion trends for Arab men and women?

Arab consumers are extremely connected and aware of trends as soon as they reach the international catwalk – exclusivity and luxury are key here. Approximately one third of the global haute couture clientele stems from the Middle East as Arabs appreciate exquisitely made, unique clothing.