For its third edition, Fashion Forward (FFWD) will return again to the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai, from April 10-13, with a new line-up of designers on show.
This season, a total of seven new designers will make their FFWD debuts, including London-based Saudi designer Lamia Asudari of Asudari Studio; Emirati designer sisters Reem & Hind Beljafla of DAS; Lebanese designer Jean Louis Sabaji; former Senior Designer of Maison Rabih Kayrouz, Ronald Abdala of House of Ronald; Moroccan-born and Amsterdam-based designer Said Mahrouf; menswear designer-trio Zac, Zubair and Talha Timol of Velsvoir; and Emirati designer Zareena Yousef.
Next to them, some regular FFWD participants are confirmed on this year’s schedule, including Furne One of Amato and Bashar Assaf, amongst others. Also returning for this third edition will be The Garden, a retail space for regional accessory designers, operating alongside the regular catwalk schedule and events.
“Broadening our reach even further across the region has always been our goal, and whilst we will continue to do so, season after season, our main focus must always be on showcasing the best and brightest design talent,” commented Bong Guerrero, CEO of Fashion Forward.
It’s worth noting, however, that a number of the most promising designers from previous seasons of FFWD have curiously decided not to participate this time around. Among them: Toujouri’s Lama El-Moatassem, Madiyah Al Sharqi, Reem Al Kanhal, and Aziz Humaid. Style.com/Arabia reached out to these designers to learn more, but they declined to go on-the-record with their comments.
There is an inherent challenge with having a for-profit organization produce what might actually be most successful as a not-for-profit event. As it stands, it’s a costly, unprofitable endeavor, which can make it difficult to avoid decisions that are commercially positive but possibly to the detriment of FFWD’s broader goals. To wit: designer selection. One of the prevailing issues that has been flagged is that the relatively high cost of showing at Fashion Forward has been a hindrance to securing designers based on talent alone, leading to a wider selection of designers than perhaps intended or desired (which, in turn, can be a deterrent to other qualified designers). And while the fees assessed do cover important (and costly) aspects such as venue, makeup, models, and communications, it remains to be seen when, or if, FFWD will find that elusive balance between “commercial enterprise” and “infrastructure / platform.” Doing so will be to the benefit of the region’s burgeoning fashion community at large, and will likely require the support of additional players. To that end, Dr. Amina Al Rustamani, Group CEO of TECOM Investments (the developers of the Dubai Design District), will speak at a FFWD press conference this Sunday, March 23rd about an ongoing partnership with FFWD.
More on this as the story breaks.