Curious about the tiny print that reads #BuyArabDesigners situated on the cover of the February 2019 issue? The hashtag is part of a long-term mission initiated by Vogue Arabia to promote the work of our regional talent. Indeed, there’s no shortage of extremely talented Arab designers in the Middle East. In an effort to make their businesses sustainable, it is crucial that consumers invest in our homegrown brands. “The sartorial lexicon of the Arab world is becoming more diverse than ever, offering options for everyone, with topnotch labels producing elegant abayas, show-stopping red carpet dresses, and cool streetwear,” notes editor-in-chief Manuel Arnaut.
Still, with the exception of brands such as Racil and couturiers Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad, few Arabian designers have broken out on the global scene. It’s no secret that the fashion landscape in the Middle East is one of the most profitable on the planet. According to Reuters, consumers in the United Arab Emirates spent $320 billion on luxury fashion in 2016 and that number is expected to grow to $490 billion by this year— How amazing would it be if that profit was spent towards nurturing homegrown design talent?
Fortunately, there are plenty of local concept stores and boutiques popping up around the region for shoppers keen to get their hands on pieces created by Arab design talent. In Jeddah, Homegrown Market is a multi-brand fashion and lifestyle boutique founded by Tamara Abukhadra in 2014. Designed with a vibrant atmosphere complete with a café, the store houses a selection of regional ready-to-wear brands such as Sarah’s Bag, Nasiba Hafiz, All Things Mochi, and The Abaya Factory.
General 3am, situated in Dubai Design District (d3) is founded by Emirati artist and entrepreneur Rami Farook. The multi-brand concept store is stocked with cool, underground labels to pick and choose from. Featuring streetwear pieces from the likes of Shabab International, Precious Trust, and Tania George to the minimalist, leather handbags from Azra, the concept store, founded in 2017, aims to provide a platform for lesser-known regional talent. “When you buy local, you contribute to the maintenance and development of your culture through subject, method, and material,” explains Farook. “Local made is contextual, so shows possibilities and encourages responsibility, while building an ecosystem of creation, exhibition, and exchange.”
Also situated in d3 is Facilité, founded by Firras Alwahabi, who already nurtures regional design talent through his PR agency Faux. The concept store boasts a roster of homegrown talent, including Lama Jouni, The Luxury Arcade, Madiyah Al Sharqi, L’Afshar, and Bazza Alzouman, to name but a few. “I think there’s no reason to not invest in regional labels,” states Alwahabi. “Their availability and visibility is at the highest its ever been with presence in leading online stores and brick-and-mortar destinations, as well as the fact that the majority have their own platforms. There’s also such a wide range of product categories available— from T-shirts to wedding gowns,” he adds. “I’m a big believer in if we, as Arabs, don’t support our emerging talent…who will?”
Indeed, from streetwear to ready-to-wear, there’s never been a better time to #BuyArabDesigners. If you follow young regional designers, track our hashtag #BuyArabDesigners as we celebrate the brightest talent and take you through their design journey.