A Conversation with Dubai-based Designer Franklin Eugene

For a city with such a wealth of luxury designer boutiques, it’s often surprising to note the very little presence of bespoke men’s tailors. Fortunately, this fact appears to be changing. American Dubai-based fashion designer Franklin Eugene has recently joined forces with Savile Row to launch its first men’s couture label: Franklin Eugene. Featuring a collection of ten different styles which range from dressy casual to corporate and formal and found in a variety of colors, each design aims to reflect the best part of the wearer’s character. Eugene’s collection is made up of exceptional fabrics of high quality wools, silk and cashmere. We caught up with Eugene in Dubai to learn what inspired him to design menswear, the Dubai fashion scene and his vision for the future.

What inspired you to start designing men’s suits?

Suits are a crucial part of a man’s wardrobe. Men wear suits to conduct business meetings, attend family and social events and for romantic evenings. The suit a man wears should enhance his ability to feel successful at whatever he does. I have always loved how suits make me feel when I wear them. I started designing suits because there were very feel available on the market according to the price range and specifications I desired. So I decided to design suits myself.

Tell me about your collaboration with Savile Row. How did it come about and how does it fit with the vision of your brand?

I started looking for a local manufacturing facility for my creations about a year after I moved to Dubai.  The first suit I worked on with Savile Row was the Rowan After going through my design specifications, my friends at Savile asked me if I really wanted to go ahead with my designs as they had never been done before.  I assured them that that was indeed the point: to bring forth a creation in Dubai that was entirely unique and new.  We worked together and the Rowan was successfully brought to market.  It is a beautiful suit with a one button elongated silhouette.   Savile Row fits perfectly with the identity of my brand. Like my designs, Savile Row is built on passion, strength, vision, bespoke craftsmanship and style.

What attributes define your designs?

My creations are an expression of passion, strength, vision, craftsmanship and style.  They are designed to be an outward manifestation of the best of a man’s inner self. My suits have transformative power. I want the wearer to feel like he is putting on amour to engage in battle and win. My suits are made to make heads turn, to captivate and impress.

The suits are made from super 100s wool, silk and cashmere and exceptionally manufactured with bespoke tailoring to fit each man’s frame and character. In addition, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of any suit in the 2012 Collection will be used to benefit selected charities across the Middle East, North Africa and India.

Having moved to Dubai from the United States, has the Gulf region’s traditional Kondura dress for men impacted your designs?

The spirit of Arabia, the aura of the Arabian male and the over the top energy of Dubai were all part the multifaceted design inspirations for the collection.  The Sharmoud was entirely inspired by the Kondura and pays homage to the brave and indomitable spirit of the Arabian male.  Even the name is derived from two men of Arab descent for whom I have great respect and adoration.  One of them has “Sharef” in his name and the other one has “Mahmoud” in his name.  I combined the first half of Sharef and the last half of Mahmoud and the Sharmoud was born. The result is a stunning creating which pairs a highly stylized blazer with a jet black Kondura alongside crimson red accessories.

As a multicultural designer now based in Dubai, how does your reception to international and local men’s fashion influence your creativity?

We do our homework and study local, regional, and international trends.  The inspirations for my 2012 collection are derived from people and places all over the world.  The Ildo, for example, was inspired by the iconic personal styling and aura of fashion industry titan Ildo Damiano.

How would you describe Dubai’s fashion scene?

Dubai’s fashion scene is still in its developing phase.  As most know, the last attempt at a proper fashion week did not fully materialize.  I am nevertheless certain that in due time Dubai’s fashion community will establish itself.

What characterizes the Dubai men’s style? Are there particular preferences here in comparison to other cosmopolitan cities?

Diversity.  Dubai is a multicultural city and the iconic and best personal fashion statements of the city’s best dressed men are as varied as the countries from where these men originated.  One common factor is fabric such as tropical weight wool which is used as a year round fabric in Dubai.  In other parts of the globe tropical weight wool would be more of a Spring/Summer fabric.

What are your hopes for the future of the Franklin Eugene brand?

Our goal is to continue to connect with our target market (style savvy gents ages 25 and up) on a local, regional and international level.  We hope to be the first locally-based fashion house specializing in men’s couture suits to have a significant international presence.