Middle Eastern designers are reclaiming

hen Dubai-based Basma Abu Ghazaleh launched his luxurious ready-to-wear brand Kage in 2009, he said he could count the number of fellow fashion designers in the region on one hand.

There were haute couture brands, sure, we’ve always been known for it, but very few contemporary high-end options,” she said in a telephone interview. “If you wanted something other than a red carpet dress, you had to look elsewhere. Today, you could fill an entire wardrobe with clothes and accessories from Middle Eastern designers,” said Abu Ghazaleh. “It is a completely new landscape. In fact, the Middle East has seen an increase in local talent and support for fashion initiatives in recent years.

The change has come as more women have entered the workforce and have sought out local fashion that is sensitive to the social customs and religious beliefs of the region. It has also been driven by new talents who have carved out their own space in the fashion industry in general. “There is a whole new demographic of consumers who support Arab designers and prefer to wear promising names rather than bigger brands,” Kuwaiti designer Haya Al Abdulkareem, founder of the seven-year-old Folklore handbag brand, wrote in an article. years. E-mail.

Middle Eastern buyers want to be diverse without compromising quality. By buying local and regional designs, they can do it,” she added. “I think we appreciate our culture and our language, which gives us an advantage to communicate with the market and convey our ideas. Qatari designer Yasmin Mansour shares similar sentiments. The fashion consumers here are really stylish. They love to embrace and experiment with different aesthetics and ideas, while still paying attention to their culture,” she said in a telephone interview.

I think that pushed me and a lot of other designers to try to do something out of the box and set our own agenda. And you know what? The response has been excellent.” Mansour’s eponymous label, which she founded in 2014, was one of the first contemporary womenswear brands in Qatar, and it became famous by taking a more avant-garde approach to formal wear. Her designs juxtapose different materials and fabrics (metals and feathers, sequins and tulles) and combine dramatic and romantic silhouettes with modern geometric shapes and structural details.

Other emerging creatives have shown similarly advanced ideas. Taking a look at the fashion landscape of the Arab world, there are ultra-feminine couturiers like Dubai-based Jordanian Haya Jarrar de Romani and avant-garde visionaries like Moroccan Faris Bennani and Jordanian-Palestinian Zeid Hijazi; streetwear devotees like Jordanian Hanna Bassil of Jdeed, the first streetwear brand inspired by Arab culture, and minimalists like Qatari Ghada Al Subaey, whose 1309 Studios have been reinventing the abaya (the loose, robe-like dress worn by some women in parts of the Muslim world).