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Dubai has designs on future of fashion


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Three years ago, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, announced the formation of the Dubai Design and Fashion Council (DDFC) - to develop Dubai as a global design and fashion hub.

DDFC came out with the MENA Design Outlook Report, in collaboration with Dubai Design District, soon after, in 2015 - looking at all aspects of design, from lighting and furniture to fashion. That report also stated the MENA fashion market has outpaced the global growth rate by over 4.7 times since 2010.

Last year, the MENA Design Education Report revealed that to keep up with demand, the region needs 30,000 design graduates by 2019 - a nine-fold increase.

Against this backdrop, DDFC has appointed their new CEO, Jazia Al Dhanhani. Al Dhanhani has been part of DDFC since last year, working as Executive Director of Industry Development & Marketing. As CEO of DDFC, her key objective is, clearly, development. "Dubai has a pool of talent, but the talent has no direction," she says.

One of the first programmes she is pushing for is the DDFC Mentorship and Internship one. DDFC's board, chaired by Dr Amina Al Rustamani, consists of 14 board members representing a mix of key stakeholder groups - including government, academic, and private sector experts such as Patrick Chalhoub, Landmark Group's Nisha Jagtiani and fashion designer Reem Acra.

The right mentors for upcoming designers. "Designers have the product but they do not have the strategy and business plan." This is the gap DDFC hopes to fill.

Recently, two designers from the region were sent for the London Fashion Scout that takes place during London Fashion Week. Next month, DDFC will announce a special membership programme which also looks at local design so they can become more international in their approach.

It is obvious Al Dhanhani's focus is on the substance of fashion, over the style. "There are three keys: grow talent development; give the right business intelligence; and ensure regional fashion gets the right recognition."

A Dubai Fashion Week is not a priority; Fashion Forward Dubai (FFWD) is. "It is now in its ninth season and has grown," Al Dhanhani points out. "Reem Acra sits on our board and she was telling us how she and several other designers no longer show at New York Fashion Week. The whole 'see now, buy now' trend has made fashion weeks less important. Which is why at FFWD, which takes place later this month, DDFC is supporting a talk on 'see now, buy now'. (this model makes what's on the runway immediately available in stores; traditionally, designers show a collection a season before at a fashion week)."

Moving on to design, what makes Dubai stand apart is that "we have an eco system for the industry -the Dubai Design District," Al Dhanhani says. Design is part of the city's DNA now. "The vision His Highness has is clear: from our gated communities to the cityscape, there is great detail paid to design."

Another project DDFC is incubating is the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI). The curriculum for this school is being developed with the support of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Parson's School of Design.Read more at:formal dresses adelaide


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