Arab World Luxury 2019 focuses on diversity in retail

The fashion industry is alive with buzzwords such as ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ and those pushing them want conversations to lead to meaningful change. (Courtesy Arab World Luxury 2019)
Updated 13 June 2019
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Arab World Luxury 2019 focuses on diversity in retail

DUBAI: If there is one industry that loves its buzzwords, it is fashion, and right now “diversity” and “inclusion” are definitely trendy. Those pushing these buzzwords want conversations to lead to meaningful change.

“Diversity in the Luxury Retail Industry” opened the afternoon session of Arab World Luxury (AWL), moderated by Candice D’Cruz, vice president for luxury brands in the Middle East and Africa at Marriott International Inc.

Panelists included Alexander Schmiedt, regional brand director for the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent at Vacheron Constantin; Chantal Khoueiry, chief culture officer at the Bicester Village Shopping Collection; Dima Ayad, PR and marketing consultant at 11 Honoré; and Samar Habayab, CEO of Silsal Design House.

“Diversity means so many things,” said D’Cruz. Audience members at AWL were polled as to what they believe companies should focus on — gender and generation came top. Schmiedt said: “For a luxury brand, what’s most important is its relationship with the client, and the client has never been so diverse.” He added that in the Middle East, “the whole industry is run by expats,” yet the clientele is mainly local; this needs to be corrected.

Ayad, who is also a fashion designer, said her focus is “finding a solution for women across all sizes.” One of the ways she has made her voice heard is through her “You As Is” collection, which encourages women to celebrate themselves as they are. She recently collaborated with another Dubai-based designer, Nadine Kanso, for the Arabic version of the “You As Is” t-shirt.

Collaboration seems to be a major tool for addressing diversity, whether it is home-gown design brand Silsal, which has worked with students from the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation to ensure their products appeal to younger customers, or the Bicester Village Shopping Collection’s “reverse mentorship” program, which helps ensure it remains a millennial-friendly employer.

Ayad said: “It’s naive to think we can only be mainstream. It’s important to stay inclusive and be diverse.”


Hadid sisters mix things up in Milan

Updated 16 June 2019
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Hadid sisters mix things up in Milan

  • The looks play on the fashion house’s iconic bondage moment, mixing the shiny leather with more mundane looks, like blazers and jacket
  • Versace dedicated the show to Keith Flint of the British band The Prodigy, a friend of Versace’s who died earlier this year

DUBAI: Model sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid took to the runway for Italian fashion house Versace in Milan on Saturday, as the label showed off its mix-and-match Spring/Summer 2020 line.

Dontatella Versace has tapped the soul of fashion house founded by her brother, the late Gianni Versace, with animal prints and loud fluorescents, The Associated Press reported.

The looks play on the fashion house’s iconic bondage moment, mixing the shiny leather with more mundane looks, like blazers and jacket. A shimmery leopard men’s top embroidered with Gianni Versace’s signature in silver peeks out of a knit vest, with black trousers and a cross-body bag that embrace femininity. Shimmery leopard prints were paired with slim trousers patterned with ancient vases.

“It is more about the confidence a guy has to express himself in a more flexible way,” said head menswear designer Ashley Fletcher.

The flexibility was clear as models including Gigi, her sister Bella and Irina Shayk exhibited the same looks: Gigi Hadid, for example, wearing a belted leather trench with hardware details over bare legs but with the same blue shirt and tie as the men — who also showed leg with the same look but with Bermuda shorts. Suit coats and jackets for him and her featured half-and-half Prince of Wales plaid and solid black, worn with a suit shirt, tie and black leather lace-up pants.

“I love you forever and ever, @donatella_versace. The queen!” Bella wrote on Instagram after the show.

Racing car motifs symbolized a coming of age and embrace of grown-up toys. The other repeating motif was the Gianni Versace signature, vertically running on ties and socks, AP reported.

“For every young man, the first car has a strong meaning.” Versace said. “It’s independence, maturity, but above all freedom.”

Versace dedicated the show to Keith Flint of the British band The Prodigy, a friend of Versace’s who died earlier this year — some models wore brightly dyed hair in his image, wearing acid-wash denim and tie-dye tops.