DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, 19 December 2013 - The regional fashion community has experienced a fantastic year of celebrating home-grown design talent with two seasons of Fashion Forward (FFWD) closing to great success - as the event firmly positioned itself within the regional, and international fashion scene. As we look forward to 2014, Fashion Forward announces its third season will take place from 10th-13th April, once again at The Madinat Jumeirah.
For its third instalment, FFWD looks to build on its considerable successes, whilst continuing to raise the bar in terms of diversity of regional design talent, a strong portfolio of industry experts to advise and educate, and creating a unique space where designs, ideas and experiences can be exchanged.
"We couldn't have asked for a better start to the FFWD journey than our first two seasons," said Founder and CEO of FFWD, Bong Guerrero. "As we look ahead to 2014, we continue to grow and adapt, and strive to provide the finest platform upon which our regional designers can showcase their talents. We are thankful for all the support in Seasons One and Two, and we hope that the community of designers, buyers, media, students and fashion-lovers alike will continue to look to FFWD as the definitive event from which our regional identity and industry can grow."
Season Two, which took place from the 15th-18th October this year, saw over 15,000 people visit FFWD from across the region throughout the four day event. Over 11,000 guests watched the 21 full-capacity catwalk shows, displaying the designs of 23 of the finest couture and ready-to-wear designers from Saudi, Qatar, Lebanon, Kuwait, Oman and the wider UAE.
In addition to the catwalk presentations and equally integral to the FFWD vision is the fostering of debate and exchange of ideas. This is done through a series of talks and panel discussions led by international industry leaders. Bringing these influential spokespeople, offers not only the chance to learn from the experts, but also to showcase what the region has to offer to an international audience.
A total of 28 key speakers participated in the talks & panel discussions in Season Two, and shared their experiences of the event:
"I had such an inspiring experience in Dubai for Fashion Forward. It was a fantastic event!
If Dubai embraces its local artisans and builds a manufacturing hub, it can become a world fashion capital." Nanette Lepore, designer and CFDA member.
"A seamless mix of showcasing, retail and education, as presented by FFWD in October 2013, will be the format of the future for any fashion event aiming to be relevant in the 21st century." Stefan Siegel, Founder, NJAL.
"I think Fashion Forward is a great platform for young innovators, not only to get information but also for us to learn what the emerging generation is concerned about and how they see things. It's a great forum." Ben Malka, Chairman and CEO of Halston.
"The first time I heard about Fashion Forward, I was seduced by it. I decided I had to be part of this. I would like Fashion Forward to become a reference and for people to come to it to discover new Arab talent. I think it's important to put our industry on an international platform. It will also push the designers to be more creative." Rabih Kayrouz, designer at Maison Rabih Kayrouz.
International recognition for the event was bolstered by phenomenal support from the regional and international media. The designers' runway presentations were live-streamed worldwide exclusively on Style.com/Arabia, the first Condé Nast fashion and beauty publication in the Middle East. Plus Vogue.com covered exclusive backstage and catwalk images taken by their resident Fashion Week photographer Kevin Tachman, who also shoots for the NY Times.
Over 50 key regional buyers attended the shows, representing influential retail groups including Saks 5th Avenue, Boutique 1, Bloomingdales, Chalhoub, Landmark Group, Majid Al Futtaim and Al Tayer. Online fashion platform, Le New Black, also travelled to Season Two to scope out design talent from the Middle East. Their portal allows a growing range of designers and buyers to network directly.
"Fashion Forward Dubai is the hub where the most coveted designers, retailers, fashion journalists and bloggers from all Middle-East meet. This platform is definitely the place where the new generation, fed with an international culture of fashion, but rich of a multitude of roots, build the fashion of today and tomorrow," said Vidya Narine, CEO and founder of Le New Black. "We are proud to team up with Fashion Forward, with the common aim to bring this creative scene to our international network of retailers."
A new addition for Season Two was The Garden - a space for over 50 regional accessories designers to display their collections to guests and buyers throughout the four days. Providing people with a space to shop accessories, jewellery, handbags, t-shirts and home wares added an interesting and commercial dynamic to the event, as sales exceeded $200,000 USD across the four day period.
Season Three will look to showcase a wider pool of regional talent and build on the successes and learnings from the first two seasons, as the platform continues to grow and mature. Key announcements will be made in the coming months on what to expect for the third season.
Designers wishing to participate to show catwalk collections can register their interest via the website at www.fashionforward.ae from 19th December.
Those wishing to showcase in The Garden can register their interest from January 2013, also through the website.