The fashion industry needs to come of age; or at least catch up with the digital revolution. This is the call of the hour from designers and decision makers who are spearheading next month’s Pret-A-Cover Buyers Lane in Dubai.
The modest fashion pop-up event, which will be held at City Walk 2 between March 28 and April 2, plans to do away with the fuss and fanfare that comes with conventional catwalk affairs to make way for a more grassroots and inclusive approach to the business.
Alia Khan, Chairwoman of Islamic Fashion and Design Council (IFDC), who is organising the six-day event, spoke about idea behind the pop-up saying: “We are an organisiation that supports the modest fashion demands of this market. Pret-A-Cover Buyers Event is meant to implement new strategies to help support the industry in a more profound and meaningful way. We are trying to do that by doing away with what we felt were broken strategies.”
Broken strategies in this case were the conventional catwalk shows that Khan believes were not the “most optimal way to showcase designs.”
She explains: “Ask yourself when you are sitting at a fashion show watching models strut by. Do you not feel disconnected? You really cannot give the designer the appreciation and attention that he or she deserves when you are not connecting.
“We wanted to come up with a way to take the show as a tool to buying groups. We wanted to start the relationship at the event and develop it from there.”
Hatem Alakeel, a Dubai-based fashion designer and founder of Toby, agrees, saying: “I’ve been approached on various occasion to do shows. I used to be a part of Dubai Fashion Week when it started and my brand is recognised in the region.
“But over the years, I have realised there is no reason to have a fashion show. When you have a presence on social media, why would you spend huge amounts on shows? Why would I risk having a show and incur huge expenses and the buyers go home?”
Alakeel uses Victoria Beckham as example, who skipped out on a showing at New York Fashion Week.
“It’s a sign that fashion needs to go to the next level whereby engaging clients to come and feel the merchandise and fabrics. That is how you sell. We can’t have instant sales after a show here — we don’t have the production facilities to do that here,” he reiterates.
Supported by Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC), the six-day Pret-A-Cover Buyers Lane will showcase modest wear collections from over 30 designers. The event will also feature the first ever augmented ‘technologically advanced’ fashion show, which is being introduced by IFDC as the ‘catwalk of the future’.
Explains Khan: “Think of it as a Virtual Reality space where you can actually be a part of the fashion as opposed to watching it as a bystander.”
Customers will also get a chance to interact with designers behind fashion-forward modest wear design labels, and artists that complement the modest lifestyle across all categories, including haute couture, pret-a-porter, street wear, athletic wear, abayas, accessories, halal skin care and more.
“With Muslim consumers spending an estimated $272 billion (Dh998.9 billion) on clothing and the industry projected to grow to $322 billion by 2018, we have a unique opportunity to develop the global market in a more cohesive manner and encourage more collaborations across borders in order to strengthen everyone’s potential,” says Khan.
At next month’s event, the Pullman hotel brand will also launch its Artist Playground galleries concept, in partnership with IFDC, which will see up and coming designers and artists showcase their talent in three-month long curated shows that will be staged in hotel lobbies across the brand’s global network.