Could Dubai Become A Fashion Capital?


Fitting in & standing out: Distinguishing Features Of Dubai as A Fashion Capital

During the season two of Fashion Forward which concluded on Friday in Dubai, a number of experts discussed the distinguishing features of the city as a future fashion capital. Bong Guerrero, chairman founder of the organizer Brag was accompanied by the fashion designer  Zayan Ghandour, Lindsay Miller – Managing Director of Dubai Design District, the journalist Ritu Upadhayay and Cyrille Fabre, partner in Bain & Company Middle East.

Dubai is without a doubt the travel, tourist, and shopping capital of the Middle East. But does it have a real chance of becoming a fashion capital? About 15 years ago, New York wasn’t either on the map of international fashion, but now is in line with Paris and Milano as a fashion capital of the world!

Lindsay Miller, Managing Director of Dubai Design District said: ” We have been waiting for the right time to start developing an ecosystem and it is now. The retail industry is going strong and we have received three proposals for Dubai Fashion Week from different companies at the same time, which indicates that the potential is there.”  The ultra-modern Design District will be ready in 2015. It comprises of nine buildings, retail facilities, offices, and of course, design houses. “We started licensing a month ago and we see strong interest from local and international investors,” said Lindsay Miller.

According to Cyrille Fabre, Dubai has a huge potential. “In Paris, during the Fashion week we have 300,000 visitors. In London, there are some twenty or thirty fashion schools. So, opportunities for growth are plenty,” he said.

Dubai is already a a retail capital , but fashion capital is not quite the same. So, what will it take?

Zayan Ghandour explains: “Sause chain of boutiques celebrate 10th birthday this year. Designers who came to us back then with single pieces now have full collections. What it takes is some sort of a council or some sort of board to consult young designers and help them to grow. This is very competitive business and it moves faster and faster year after year . You have to be able to keep up.”

How fashion could evolve here without proper fashion and design schools?

Bong Guerrero explains: “There is a lot of learning to be done. The best way is to go to the experts. We are looking to bring a lot more of experts in fashion education to the Fashion Forward talks, such as Parsons”.

“Education is a big factor”, adds Lindsay Miller. “We need to understand where are the gaps and where to put our efforts.”

When we would be able to call Dubai a fashion capital?

According to the Managing Director of Dubai Design District, it will take 5 to 7 years. “We are now laying the foundations,” she said.

Cyrille Fabre added: “I think, we should moderate everyone’s expectations here. It won’t happen tomorrow. By 2020, we would likely be there.”

Fashion Forward’s organizer concluded: “Our guests from Milano and the US are genuinely impressed, which gives me hopes that we can do it rather sooner than later.”


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