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

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.”


Yolanda Hadid, Gigi and Bella Hadid’s mother, returns to the runway at Off-White

The Off-White show marked her first runway in almost 35-years. (Getty)
Updated 28 February 2020

Yolanda Hadid, Gigi and Bella Hadid’s mother, returns to the runway at Off-White

DUBAI: Virgil Abloh’s fall 2020 show for Off-White was a family affair, with Bella Hadid opening the show, Gigi Hadid closing it, and their mother, Yolanda Hadid, walking mid-runway during Paris Fashion Week on Thursday night.

While the former “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star has spent the past several weeks traveling between London, Milan, and Paris with her daughters, she is always sat on the front row to support them while they strut down the catwalk. However, at Off-White, Yolanda decided to dust off her old modeling hat and join her daughters in what would be her first runway in almost 35-years. Wearing a white, graffiti-print blazer and black trousers, the 56-year-old was more than prepared to return to the catwalk at Off-White’s show.

Of course, Yolanda has plenty of experience in the modeling world. She was discovered at the age of 14 when Dutch designer Frans Molenaar asked her to replace a model in one of his collections. She would go on to become a fashion week fixture during the ‘80s and ‘90s, and appear in the pages of high profile fashion publications.

“I grew up in a really small town in Holland called Papendrecht, and I’d never seen a fashion magazine when I became a model,” Yolanda told W Magazine back in 2018. “I was not educated at all, and I was kind of thrown into it by accident — or maybe because it was my destiny, but at the time it felt like an accident.”

Though she no longer models, the mother of Gigi and Bella is a best-selling author, former “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” cast member and a TV host.