Meet Jacob Abrian, the high achieving head of the Arab Fashion Council

Updated 12 April 2018
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Meet Jacob Abrian, the high achieving head of the Arab Fashion Council

RIYADH: Jacob Abrian, 26-year-old model, founder and CEO of the Arab Fashion Council (AFC), which organizes Arab Fashion Week (AFW), is optimistic about the future of the Arab fashion industry, particularly in Saudi Arabia.

“There are many Saudi talents,” Abrian told Arab News on the eve of the AFW 2018 in Riyadh. “But they were hidden or exclusive and now we will spread them to the world.”

Abrian has mixed Lebanese-Italian heritage. Both countries have had a major impact on the fashion industry, and Abrian knows that talent alone will not be enough to sustain a successful fashion scene in the GCC.

“I wanted to bring that infrastructure that Italy has in the fashion world to our region,” he explained. “I’m not focusing so much on Arab Fashion Week itself, rather we’re working on that to promote and focus on the infrastructure.

“With the right education and platform anything can happen,” he continued, adding that the AFC plans to set up a fashion university in the Kingdom. “In regard to local designers, our main role is to scout and support them, give them a platform to grow. Currently, local designers just have potential; everything starts from education and work experience. It should all be connecting together and this is the course we want to bring to Saudi.”

Abrian has seen enough to be sure that there is a bright future for young Arab designers. “Three years ago we launched a scholarship for the Arab world,” he said. “A Saudi student won that competition. He was so passionate and I felt that, with the right tools, that student could have a bright future. Two years later, he sent us his portfolio and we were amazed. He’s now a fashion editor at one of the most important magazines in the world.”

Success stories like that motivate Abrian to keep pushing Arab fashion forward, and Arab Fashion Week is the biggest milestone so far in that journey.

“It’s a sign that Saudi is changing,” he said of the event. “I’m proud to say that Saudi is going to surprise everyone around the world in a top-notch manner.

“This is a great start,” he continued. “It’s exciting. We’re building history.”

FASTFACTS

BIO

Jacob Abrian is the founder and CEO of the Arab Fashion Council (AFC), the world’s largest non-profit fashion council. It represents the 22 Arabic countries that are members of the Arab League. He founded the council aged 22, becoming the youngest person ever to found an international extraterritorial authority. Abrian is also a successful model.


Yousra Elsadig brings her modest style to LFW

An image from the show in London. (Frederico Velez)
Updated 21 February 2019
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Yousra Elsadig brings her modest style to LFW

DUBAI: An independent showcase of emerging designers held during London Fashion Week, Fashion Scout once again lived up to its name — scouting out and presenting talented designers from across the globe from Feb. 15-17.

Arab News went along to a showing by a UK-based designer Yousra Elsadig, whose Boutique De Nana collection paid tribute to her former home country, Sudan.

“I am trying to depict the beauty of my homeland. It’s so heart-breaking to see what’s happening in Sudan. I want to dedicate this collection to my country and to put the focus on freedom, justice and peace,” she said.

Elsadig, who was named “Woman of the Year” by Barclays in 2017 and “Designer of The Year 2016 by the Modest Association of London, designs for women who want to dress modestly, but with imagination and style.

“The modest element is very important to me — women can be beautiful, feminine and modest,” she said.

Her designs have a simplicity, charm and quirkiness that comes partly from the use of recycled fabrics, as sustainability is a key message she wants to get across. 

Elsadig is unusual in combining her designer role with a full-time degree in optometry. In fact, the day before her LFW show, she sat an exam and then drove from her home in Wales to London. 

She is also the mother of two young girls, but if that’s a lot to juggle it doesn’t show. She was a bundle of warmth and energy backstage — calmly briefing the models.

Her family left Sudan when she was very young and she grew up in Canada. Her family then left Canada to live in Wales in the UK.

It was in Cardiff that she met her mentor, designer Sarah Valentin, who was teaching community sewing and textile classes with a special focus on recycling and sustainability. Valentin said she is thrilled to see Elsadig achieving such success.

“I saw her potential and creative ideas. It’s incredible that she is showing here at London Fashion Week.  I’m so proud of her,” she said.

As the models moved gracefully through the room, the clothes gave off a sense of confident, graceful and highly individual style — perfect for the modern, modest woman of today.