Dubai’s aspirations to become a global fashion hub by 2020 are not implausible and far-fetched, according to experts.
Last week, the emirate revealed its ambitious ‘Dubai Fashion 2020’ plan aimed at strengthening the regional fashion and design industry.
The plan is expected to boost the emirate’s economy and have a significant impact on employment across the value chain such as manufacturing, retail and design.
“The announcement of Dubai Fashion 2020 is very exciting news for the region,” said Bong Guerrero, CEO of Fashion Forward, a Dubai-based platform which held its inaugural fashion show in April.
“If you look at what the UAE has achieved in its short life-span, you could argue that there isn’t much that is too ambitious. The Middle East, and Dubai in particular, is at the forefront of innovation and progress in so many sectors, the fashion industry should be no different,” he stated.
“All the ingredients are here, the global interest, the regional fashion consciousness and most importantly the talent. Furthermore, geographically, we are perfectly placed to be a fashion hub.
“So, with the right support and strategy, who’s to say we cannot significantly progress the industry by 2020,” added Guerrero.
The announcement for Fashion 2020 followed on the heels of the Dubai Design District, a grand development that will feature commercial and retail facilities for designers, design institutes, waterfront promenade, a convention centre, event venues and related academic institutions.
The massive project, set to emerge adjacent to the Business Bay area, is aimed at promoting local and regional designers and attracting international ones.
“The fashion trend in Dubai has been gradually expanding since last five years,” said Eisha Ramrakhiani, director of Fashion ME, a fashion show organised this month in Dubai.
“Fashion designers from all over the world are now looking at having their presence in Dubai hence the city is now already becoming a global fashion hub,” she added.
But while the initiative is a welcome step, there needs to be increased education in various areas of the business to make it a sustainable industry, say experts.
And the main push has to focus on local designers.
Guerrero stated: “There needs to be a focus on education at all stages, not just for aspiring designers, but providing our existing talent with advice on support from a business perspective.
“We also need to encourage global buyers to look to the region, season after season, not to get token “Middle Eastern” pieces, but for designers who can produce desirable and profitable collections as standard.
“With all these factors, we need to start at home: with our local fashion schools, local buyers and local media,” he added.
Tamara Hostal, CEO and founder of fashion institute ESMOD Dubai agrees that local designers deserve to get the spotlight.
“While the UAE retail sector needs to deal in international brands, the need of the hour is to develop a long-term vision to support and deliver local brands of professional quality to fashion-savvy consumers.
“Such a vision to develop a real UAE fashion identity that can compete in the fashion international market will take the nation a long way forward,” she said.
“Having dedicated incubator store spaces to support the new designers of the region along with full facilities for fashion events would be a strategic factor to show the region’s talent to the world,” added Denis Ravizza, art director at the institute.
As Fashion Forward’s Guerrero summed it up: “The new plan underlines the importance of developing the fashion industry as a whole, including the business and infrastructure side – there’s so much more to it than showing beautiful clothes on a catwalk.”