x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Fashion Forward will help region strut on world stage

A new group aims to help the Middle East fashion industry strut its stuff more forcefully on the worldwide stage.

Ramzi Nakad, left, and Bong Guerrero of Fashion Forward hope to alter regional perceptions about the industry, which is more often seen as a leisure interest than a business. Satish Kumar / The National
Ramzi Nakad, left, and Bong Guerrero of Fashion Forward hope to alter regional perceptions about the industry, which is more often seen as a leisure interest than a business. Satish Kumar / The National

A new group aims to help the Middle East fashion industry strut its stuff more forcefully on the worldwide stage.

Fashion Forward also hopes to assist in the development of the sector, and has signed up sponsors, including the London College of Fashion, Milan's Domus Academy and Fashion TV, to promote regional designers.

"Right now there is a lot of attention on Middle Eastern talent. [Regional designers] are getting a lot of kudos in Hollywood, Paris and in London. But it is very sporadic and almost on an individual basis," said the co-founder Bong Guerrero.

Like fashion weeks abroad, Fashion Forward will showcase designers' creations in regular events. But they will be more than just runway shows.

"There will be a lot of talks, panel discussions and workshops that will be curated by various bodies like academic bodies which will shed light on important topics which are lacking and will help develop," said the co-founder Ramzi Nakad.

"We didn't want to copy and paste anything from outside. We really wanted to approach it from a strategic angle and look at fundamentally where the industry is at and almost tailor something that is more fitting," he added.

In the longer term Fashion Forward hopes to alter regional perceptions about the industry, which is more often seen as a leisure interest than a business.

"If you look at the GDP of New York or Paris and Milan where they have a very successful fashion industry you realise that it is a very big business and it is quite lucrative," said Mr Ramzi.

"Right now I think in the region there is a lot of attention on whether it is other types of businesses or sports and they still don't think of fashion like that quite yet but hopefully over time this will help shape it."

So far 14 designers from the region have signed up to be part of Fashion Forward, which will hold its first event from April 26 to 29 at Madinat Jumeirah, including Furne One, a Dubai-based designer and celebrity favourite.

Other local designers making an impact abroad include Sultan Rashed Al Darmaki, a London based Emirati shoe designer, who participated in high-profile fashion weeks in London and Paris last year.

 

gduncan@thenational.ae