Dubai could forge an important place for itself in the global fashion industry, according to the chief executive of America’s trade organisation.
Steven Kolb of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which represents Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Diane von Furstenberg as well as many small businesses, was in Dubai this week to take part in Fashion Forward, a platform that aims to help the Middle East fashion industry strut its stuff more prominently on the world stage.
“The way I would define global fashion capitals would be more historical and look at Paris, Milan, London and New York, which are kind of the pillars of the global fashion world,” said Mr Kolb.
However, there are a number of emerging markets, Dubai among them, and if they put in the right effort along with the correct structures, they could have an effect, he said
“I don’t think the future is going to be about one city or that there will be a capital. The way technology has influenced business and economies have become global, I think Dubai could have an important place in global fashion. But the idea of one city or one capital I think will eventually not exist,” he said.
Fashion Forward featured runway shows, panel discussions and talks by industry experts.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event he said he had seen some “great things”, but there was work to be done to develop the industry. “I think the people involved will say that fashion is retail here,” said Mr Kolb. “I don’t think I’m saying anything that people don’t recognise.”
There are, however, components of a fashion industry here, said Mr Kolb, such as media that are interested in fashion and local talent, more than 20 of whom showed their collections at Fashion Forward.
Developing the industry is a matter of pulling those stakeholders together, he added.
“A lot of global brands are here, but there is no reason for us not to have our brands and be able to magnify them and the great thing about Dubai is it has quite a strong international appeal,” said Bong Guerrero, the cofounder of Fashion Forward.
Consistency is important to efforts to develop the industry, he added.
Holding regular Fashion Forward events will show the international fashion community, buyers and press the talent that exists in the region.
“It is a platform where we showcase the region’s best established and emerging. But beyond the platform as well it is a space where learning, education and exchange of ideas are represented. I think it’s an important angle as we are an emerging market,” Mr Guerrero said. “It is just being honest to say we need to learn and employ a lot of things.”