In exciting news for Egypt‘s emerging designers, the country is set to host its first official fashion awards. The announcement was jointly made by the Egyptian Fashion and Design Council (EFDC), Mall of Arabia, Marakez, and the British Council Egypt at a press conference while encouraging talent to apply. The Egypt Fashion Awards will have four categories: Young Designers (graduating students of 2019 or 2020 in the fashion, accessory, or jewelry design sector and up to two years in the business), Emerging Designers (produced commercially available apparel for a minimum of two years and a maximum of eight years), Accessory Designers (produce commercially available accessories for a minimum of two years and a maximum of eight years), and Jewelry Designers (produce commercially available jewelry for a minimum of two years and a maximum of eight years).
The awards’ advisory board includes members of both international and regional fashion industries: Diane Pernet, founder of A Shaded View on Fashion, Jamila Halfichi, fashion and lifestyle editor of Al Sharq Al Awsat newspaper; Shirene Rifai, founder and organizer of Jordan Fashion Week; Kegham Djeghalian, art director and professor at Paris College of Art and French Institute of Fashion, Susan Sabet, co-founder EFDC and publisher of Pashion magazine.
The board will be tasked with pre-selecting five finalists in each category who will be announced on February 7. The works of these finalists will then be displayed at Cairo’s Mall of Arabia for public viewing and voting. This will be followed by the Egypt Fashion Awards Gala on February 27 also at the mall where finalists from all categories will showcase pieces from their latest collections. These will be judged by a soon-to-be-announced high-profile jury of fashion industry members and celebrities who will ultimately select the winners.
What awaits the winners? An opportunity to experience firsthand the workings of an international fashion week. As part of ‘The London Fashion Experience’, The British Council will take the winners of each category to London Fashion Week in September 2022 where they will be shown the different options of participation and the needs of international buyers to aid them in the future. What’s more, the Mall of Arabia will also display the works of the finalists at a popup, while the EFDC will offer mentorship and business guidance.
We caught up with Sabet to know more about the aims and future of the Egypt Fashion Awards.
What brought about the awards’ inception and how long have they been in the making?
With so many talents who deserve and need recognition, mentorship, and support—which is part of the EFDC mission—it was only a given that an award had to be created sooner or later. The EFDC being a non-profit organization that offers designers to apply at no cost gives a fair opportunity to all talents. The idea of the awards started almost two years ago and we had been in talks with Mall of Arabia since then. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic we delayed the launch several times.
What would you like participating and winning designers to take away from these awards?
Of course, everyone wants to be a winner, however, as in every competition, there can only be one. But we hope that everyone is encouraged to apply and participate and sees the larger picture. It is about the exposure, and the opportunity to be discovered and receive feedback from fashion industry leaders and press and end consumers, and to benefit from the mentorship. It’s also part of a learning process and experience that every young and emerging designer should go through.
How do you think fashion in Egypt has evolved over the years?
The Egyptian textile and apparel industry is the second-largest industrial sector in Egypt and plays a major role in shaping the country’s economy. It operates on a vertically integrated functioning model, starting from raw materials up to finished products of apparel and home textile in large manufacturing plants. Since the revolution in 2011, the Egyptian fashion industry has seen a dramatic surge in young designers starting to open up small ateliers or subcontracting and starting their own brands. I personally explain it as part of a new nationalism and pride that was born with the revolution that encouraged locals to support, be proud, and buy local.
What is your message to young Egyptian designers?
Don’t be scared and insecure, or doubt your talent. Apply and benefit from what the award is offering everyone in terms of exposure.
What are your future plans for the awards?
It will be an annual event and we hope to grow more and more awareness and interest with every edition and make participation an aspiration of all Egyptian designers.
Entry for all applicants is free. For more information and to apply, visit Egyptfashionawards.com
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