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Arab Fashion Week Rebrands as Dubai Fashion Week

The event curated by Dubai Design District and the Arab Fashion Council will kick off under the new banner on Mar. 10 in Dubai.
Khadija Al Bastaki.
Khadija Al Bastaki is senior vice president of Dubai Design District (D3), which curates Dubai Fashion Week alongside the Arab Fashion Council. (Courtesy)

The United Arab Emirates fashion industry has historically struggled to pull together a preeminent fashion week amid a labyrinth of competing events in Dubai, but the newly rebranded event could prove to be a contender if its updated strategy serves stakeholders’ needs in a sustainable manner and if Middle Eastern brands and business leaders unite under the banner.

Founded by Jacob Abrian in 2015, Arab Fashion Week (AFW) was the only fashion week in Dubai to maintain a regular season cadence in recent years. The event has now been rebranded as Dubai Fashion Week (DFW). The inaugural DFW event, curated by the Arab Fashion Council and the city’s main business park Dubai Design District (D3), kicks off on Mar. 10 and runs until Mar. 15.

Following Paris on the international fashion week calendar, the event will show menswear on the first two days and womenswear on the following three, before culminating in a slate of couture shows on the final day.

In a statement to the press, Khadija Al Bastaki, senior vice president of D3, a member of Tecom Group, said in part, “to celebrate this momentous event, the industry looks to honour Dubai’s growing influence as one of the five major global fashion capitals and to feature international brands and experts from around the world to gather at Dubai Design District.”

Regionally familiar brands such as Michael Cinco and Amato, who have shown at AFW in the past, join the ranks of up-and-coming names at DFW like Bazaza, founded by Lebanese designer Hussein Bazaza, and Dima Ayad, a Dubai-based brand that recently saw its international launch on Net-a-Porter. Mrs. Keepa, a label founded by Mariam Yeya, was part of AFW’s previous effort to show regional designers at Paris Fashion Week via the ‘Arabs in Paris’ showcase, and will be welcomed to DFW for the first time via a digital presentation.

A cross-pollination will also occur with the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, presenting the French brand Pressiat, while Milan Fashion Week member Francesca Liberatore will show a ready-to-wear collection.

“We are delighted to see the Arab Fashion Council, Dubai Design District, Dubai’s major industry stakeholders, and member designers join forces to mark a historical move and unite the local fashion scene under DFW’s broad umbrella,” Jacob Abrian, chief executive officer of the Arab Fashion Council, said in a statement.

The new Dubai Fashion Week overseen by D3 and the Arab Fashion Council is unrelated to the fashion week of the same name held under the auspices of Sheikha Hend Al Qassemi before it was rebranded in 2016 as Dubai International Fashion Week. It is also unrelated to the now-defunct event of the same name spearheaded by Concept Group which ceased operating in 2010.

According to a BoF Insights report on the Middle East, local fashion brands are of growing interest to consumers in the region. A survey in the report also found that senior fashion executives are most optimistic about growth in the Middle East compared to other regions, with 55 percent indicating they view the region as having the most promising growth prospects in 2023 versus 2022.

Learn more:

The Middle East Fashion Week Labyrinth

Designers in the region struggle to navigate a fragmented market of competing fashion week events with ambiguous agendas and mixed results.

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