Dubai Fashion Week’s Dilemma?

Just two weeks ago the Concept Group, the commercial events company which organizes Dubai Fashion, sat down with a group of Emirati designers including Amal Murad, Hind Beljafla, and Mariam al Mazroua and various other Dubai fashion industry personalities. The outcome of these discussions was that Dubai Fashion Week’s primary focus should be to encourage designers of the Middle East instead of vying for the international spotlight.

The event is surely receiving international coverage and recognition. Buyers from department stores such as Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Debenhams were expected to come this year in search of new lines for their flagship stores in London and New York. Just last month at London Fashion Week, British brand Prorsum included the Emirate in a live link destination from its London show.

“Dubai Fashion Week, when it was conceptualized it was a very small, local event, when we invited designers locally. Now over a period of time we’ve grown to include designers from the region, and this time we have gone international,” said Ali Khan, vice president of Concept Group, responsible for organizing Dubai Fashion Week, to Arabian Business. Khan vows to take Dubai international in six seasons, which may be the reason behind his inclusion of prominent designers from Brazil, Spain, and the U.S. He is particularly excited about the participation of Andres Aquino, the designer who founded New York Couture Week which, different from Dubai Fashion Week, is a consumer fashion event for which guests need to buy tickets—the Dubai event is by invitation only.

Put aside the excitement of such international appearance and the question still remains: What does Dubai Fashion want to be? Regardless of the inclusion of international designers there is great incentive for the event to remain a place to showcase local talent. Rightly so, for how can Dubai Fashion Week hope to go international without understanding what it hopes to achieve? If Dubai simply follows suite to long-established fashion weeks in New York, Paris and Milan, it won’t make its mark. What will give Dubai Fashion Week its edge as it goes international will be to focus on what makes it distinctly Dubai—the ingredients are here at home.