Valued at 700 million euros ($950 million), designer clothing is by far the biggest segment of the world’s fashion business and the luxury goods industry representing 42 per cent of overall luxury goods sales in the UAE, the biggest buyer among Gulf states. Women’s designer dresses and skirts lead the way, according to a report published in Euromonitor International.
China and the Middle East are the fastest growing markets for luxury retailers. These markets for a long time preferred a more ostentatious type of luxury and now want a more refined and discreet style.
The Middle East only started to pick up strongly in 2008, but now generates 30-35 per cent in annual sales growth a year. For Middle Eastern women, couture is a symbol of social status and success. At parties and weddings, they want to shine and impress each other or potential mothers in-law scouting for eligible brides.
In recent years, Dubai is positioning itself as a the fashion capital of the Middle East by hosting a number of high-profile fashion events such as Fashion Forward and Vogue Fashion Dubai Experience. Every next edition of the both events is getting better as it is organised with an utmost attention to detail and in unison with the latest international industry standards. Moreover, the regional interest remains very strong.
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Qatar, the world’s richest nation per capita, is one of the few economies in the world enjoying strong economic growth with a GDP growth forecast of above 15 per cent for this year, according to analysts. One of the biggest supporters of the fashion event is Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned along with Queen Rania of Jordan.
Sheikha Mozah – regarded as one of the world’s biggest buyers of couture, according to fashion experts – is also behind the creation of the Qatar Luxury Group in 2008. The secretive group, financially supported by the Qatar Foundation the Sheikha created, made its first acquisition when it snapped up Paris-listed leather goods maker Le Tanneur for $35 million, and is on the lookout for more European brands. The group is headed by Gregory Couillard, a former executive at the world’s biggest luxury group LVMH, which owns Dior and Louis Vuitton.