RIYADH: The Fashion Commission has announced a range of new initiatives to provide increased support for the Kingdom’s designers and greater opportunities to promote their work to a global audience.
At its inaugural Fashion Strategy Roadshow on Wednesday, the organization, which falls under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, unveiled plans to create a product development studio for use by designers, as well as four partnership deals with leading industry players.
CEO Burak Çakmak said: “Over the last two years, the Saudi fashion sector has made great progress. From the launch of our yearlong mentoring program — Saudi 100 Brands — to Fashion Futures, our annual conference and Elevate — our female leadership program — we have been maximizing opportunities for local talent.
“Building a product development studio in Riyadh is a major step forward toward making Saudi a thriving fashion center.”
Located at the Misk City Hub, the 1,000-square-meter facility will provide designers and students with world-class product development support, technology and equipment, including a 3D knitting machine, laser cutting machine, leather stitching and industrial sewing machines and fabric digital printers.
The studio will also have an extensive range of kit for jewelry making, including a Formlab 3D printer and a die cast metal stamping machine.
Princess Reema bint Bandar, who sits on the commission’s board, said: “This next generation of fashion designers and their innovative designs are absolutely enchanting. Their creative energy is evident, their talent is apparent and their vision is a sign of great things to come.
“Over 1,300 people applied to participate in the Saudi 100 Brands program, which is an indication of the vast promise of this industry,” she said.
“As Saudi opens up to the world, fashion will help us tell our story of change and the transformational impact of Vision 2030.”
As part of its ongoing efforts to support the fashion industry, the commission also signed four partnership deals, including ones with Mukatafa, an organization that seeks to increase collaboration between the private and public sectors, and multichannel retailer Kamal Osama Jamjoom Group.
The two others were with Middle East jewelry giant L’azurde in a bid to boost the exposure of local brands, and marketing firm Sela, with the aim of championing the Kingdom’s designers via the Saudi 100 Brands program and providing them with retail space during the high season of Ramadan.
Ammar Bogari, the commission’s general manager for strategy and business development, said: “Fashion isn’t only what we wear. Fashion is much broader than that. Fashion is culture. Fashion is economy. Fashion is environment and soft power.”
He added that thanks to Vision 2030, more than half of the people working in fashion in the Kingdom were women and Saudis held two-thirds of all jobs within the core sector.
Under the Vision initiative, the commission has sought to promote education and creativity in the fashion industry, as well as supporting product development and increasing localization of the manufacturing and supply chain.
It also recently announced a partnership with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology to create greater opportunities for research and development.
Through the Saudi 100 Brands program, the commission has sought to increase the global exposure of Saudi fashion by exhibiting at New York and Milan Fashion Weeks.
Saudi designer Tima Abid, whose creations are included in the program, told Arab News the commission was having a huge and “beautiful” impact on the industry.
“I think the new strategies will give great opportunities to all the designers for their creativity to reach (global markets) in a form that pleases … and most importantly it will be an honorable interface for our country,” she said.