Fashion Forward’s First Season Attracts Industry Influencers, Showcases Diverse Range of Middle East-Based Design Talent

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Four-Day Inaugural Event Fosters Debate on Direction of Regional Fashion Growth, Highlights Demand for Middle East Fashion Trade Body

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, 5 May 2013 – Capacity crowds, including industry influencers, retail buyers, academic heads and fashion decision-makers, flocked to Madinat Jumeirah from 26-29 April for Fashion Forward’s first season. The public programme of workshops and panels, ranging from directional to practical themes, drew hundreds of participants who engaged in lively debate with speakers, while 18 catwalk presentations across three locations saw standing-room-only crowds experiencing new collections from some of the Middle East’s emerging and established designers. From accessories lovers trawling for a special piece in the pop-up shop to discussions, catwalk shows, and related social events, more than 12, 000 guests experienced the first season of Fashion Forward.

Season one closed with an exclusive industry luncheon with celebrated designer Reem Acra, who was discovered by a fashion editor while studying at the American University of Beirut, as Fashion Forward’s guest of honour. On his first-ever visit to the Middle East, Steven Kolb, CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), the not-for-profit trade association representing the interests of more than 400 North American fashion and accessory designers, gave a keynote presentation outlining a roadmap for the creation of an industry body aimed at nurturing and regulating a vibrant, sustainable fashion industry. “Fashion is a universal language, and programmes like Fashion Forward fuel creativity and stimulate the economy,” said Kolb, during his keynote.

“The feedback from our participating designers, speakers and panelists such as celebrated Lebanese designer Rabih Kayrouz, our academic partners and retailers, editors, and bloggers is that Fashion Forward is the timely, well-executed platform which the Middle East needs to provide structure, focus and momentum for the fashion sector,” said Bong Guerrero, CEO of FFWD.

“The support received from a number of the world’s leading academic institutes, who are looking to host scholarships for students from the Middle East; the sheer numbers of guests who attended; and the calibre of designers who have already shown interest in participating for season two, all underscore the enthusiasm and goodwill for the success of Fashion Forward as the region’s definitive twice-annual fashion event,” he added.

Of particular benefit to a number of participating designers were private mentoring sessions with the New York-based Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), the first of their kind in the region, providing insight on how to address challenges specific to their individual brands, from positioning to merchandising, funding, and marketing. Season two of Fashion Forward, taking place in October 2013, will see an expanded focus on mentorship and scholarships as well as the evolution of a non-commercial trade body aimed at setting professional standards and establishing a code of best practices for the Middle East’s fashion industry.

“We’re now accepting applications from and meeting with designers keen to take part in Fashion Forward’s season two. Our first season has provided tremendous insight into what the region’s aspiring and existing designers need to develop further, as well as the roles which academia and the retail community can play, and we will incorporate these elements into season two so that Fashion Forward continues to evolve in an informed and dynamic way,” Guerrero added.

Interested designers of fashion and accessories as well as members of the academic and retail communities can contact Fashion Forward about opportunities to participate in season two via www.fashionforward.ae.As a bi-annual fashion platform, created by event management agency BRAG, FFWD is establishing itself as the region’s definitive movement to foster growth and enrichment for designers, the Middle East’s retail sector and the industry as a whole.

About Fashion Forward (FFWD)
Fashion Forward (FFWD) is the definitive fashion platform for Dubai and the Middle East — a fashion movement which provides a platform and a progressive direction for fashion. Key components of FFWD include catwalk presentations by established and emerging designers in the Middle East, the Fashion Forum – an educational module to foster industry discussion, and an awards programme to recognize regional pioneers. A biannual event delivered by Brag, the region’s most trusted live marketing agency, FFWD’s second edition will take place from in October 2013.
www.fashionforward.ae

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