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A stitch in right direction: Saudi Arabia opens new chapter for fashion industry

A stitch in right direction: Saudi Arabia opens new chapter for fashion industry

RIYADH: The future of fashion is looking brighter than ever in Saudi Arabia, with thanks in no small part to the kick off of a special event in Riyadh this week. 

Hosted by the Ministry of Culture and held at the Cultural Palace in Riyadh’s Diplomatic Quarter, Fashion Futures is the first event of its kind in the country.

Running until Nov. 6, the event features celebrity panels, workshops, and an exhibit of traditional Saudi bridal couture.

The event opened up on Monday afternoon with a speech by Hamed M. Fayez, vice minister, Ministry of Culture. 

In his address, Fayez emphasized the ministry’s commitment to developing the fashion sector in the Kingdom.

“With the launch of a standalone Fashion Commission, today we open a new chapter for the fashion industry in our country, the first platform of its kind in Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Fayez also announced a new academic scholarship, which would provide four Saudi designers with the opportunity to study at world-renowned fashion institute Parsons, The New School, in New York City.

Also speaking at the inauguration was Princess Noura bint Faisal Al-Saud, adviser to the Ministry of Culture, who stressed the importance of fashion in the development of the Kingdom’s image on a global scale.

“As the Kingdom develops on many fronts, we see a place for the Kingdom on the global stage, not least because we are very knowledgeable about fashion, its cultural link to craft, tradition, and the importance of heritage. We care about fashion in the context of a changing world,” she said.

Notable speakers on Monday included Dutch fashion designer Iris Van Herpen, Group President of LMVH Ravi Thakran, and Holition CEO and co-founder Jonathan Chippendale.

Scheduled for Tuesday are an introduction to Saudi fashion speech by Princess Reema bint Bandar, a keynote speech by renowned model Halima Aden, and a digital keynote by SSENSE co-founder and CEO Rami Atallah, among many more.

Iris Van Herpen, founder and creative director of her eponymous fashion label, said she was happy to be in Riyadh for the first time to share her knowledge and experience.

“It’s a region that I haven’t seen a lot of yet, so I’m very curious, and I would like to see more,” she told Arab News.

Amateur fashion designer Lana Rasheed told Arab News that attending the event had given her inspiration and hope that she could make a name for herself in the country’s burgeoning fashion industry.

“This event is a godsend for any designer looking to further themselves and their skills. If you’re a designer who wants to improve, you have to attend. The people and the place are all such a great motivator,” she said.

Among many achievements, Fashion Futures has also given a platform to 100 Saudi designers, 180 Saudi fashion enthusiasts and 40 students to contribute to the success and preparation of the event.

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