The future is fashion in Saudi Arabia and it’s time for the world to get ready. Fashion Futures, an unprecedented fashion-focused conference in the Kingdom dedicated to kickstarting the next generation of homegrown creatives, began yesterday November 4 in Riyadh amidst a flurry of local and international excitement.
The three-day flagship event featuring interviews, panels, workshops, and masterclasses from celebrated industry stalwarts, entrepreneurs, and designers is just the beginning of the rapidly-growing fashion scene in the nation. As part of Vision 2030, Saudi’s modernization blueprint, fashion is one of 16 sectors the Ministry of Culture will be developing over the next decade. Aiming to add Saudi Arabia’s voice into international discussions on the evolution of the industry, the impact of technology, and the challenge of sustainable business practices, Fashion Futures creates a much-awaited bridge between local talent and the rest of the world.
“Fashion Futures is the first important step on a journey to transform the Saudi fashion industry from a nascent under-developed sector to a flourishing hub of creativity and innovation,” said Abdulkarim Alhumaid, Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of Culture in Saudi Arabia.
Day one of the inaugural program welcomed local leaders including His Excellency Mr. Hamed M. Fayez, Vice Minister at the Ministry of Culture, and Her Highness Princess Noura bint Faisal Al Saud, Advisor at the Ministry of Culture as well as international model and former Vogue Arabia cover star Halima Aden and high-profile designers Iris Van Herpen and Giles Deacon. An exhibition showcasing local creations and traditional thawbs highlighted the beauty of modest fashion the country’s rich cultural history while dazzling attendees with bold colors and sparkling embellishments. Famed editorialist Bob Colacello wrapped up the day with his insights on the upcoming changes in the style world.
Taking the name of the event literally, Fashion Futures not only creates a platform for emerging regional talent, but also paves the path for investing in their future with LVMH announcing an AED 1.8 billion fund in support of young creatives in the GCC during a keynote address and the Ministry of Culture unveiling a scholarship program for four Saudi designers in collaboration with the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York City. A fashion business incubator will also finance Saudi creatives and establish partnerships to encourage local fashion manufacturing.
“Nurturing young talent is absolutely vital to our goal of developing a thriving cultural sector in Saudi Arabia,” H.E. Mr. Hamed M. Fayez said. “The New School’s Parsons School of Design is one of the top universities in the world for fashion, and through our scholarship program Saudi designers will have a unique opportunity to listen and learn from the best as well as contribute their own ideas and work to the ever-changing world of design and fashion.”
Although this was only day one of what is sure to be many days and years of careful cultivation, it will be no surprise to us when Kingdom’s burgeoning fashion ecosystem soon joins the ranks of other highly regarded fashion destinations around the world.