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.”


Models Gigi, Bella Hadid walk designer Gaultier’s last fashion show

Jean-Paul Gaultier took his final bow of a 50-year career in the industry at the Paris Fashion Week. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2020

Models Gigi, Bella Hadid walk designer Gaultier’s last fashion show

  • Part-Palestinian sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid were among the big names walking his last haute couture runway, the models wearing Gaultier’s latest designs from his Spring 2020 collection

DUBAI: French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier on Wednesday took his final bow of a 50-year career in the industry at the Paris Couture Week.

Part-Palestinian sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid were among the big names walking his last haute couture runway, the models wearing Gaultier’s latest designs from his Spring 2020 collection.

Gigi was dressed in a sailor’s outfit featuring a striped bodysuit with white wide-leg trousers and sailor hat. (AFP)

Gigi was dressed in a sailor’s outfit featuring a striped bodysuit with white wide-leg trousers and sailor hat.

Bella wore a strapless peacock-like black dress which the stylists paired with boots and gloves.

Bella wore a strapless peacock-like black dress which the stylists paired with boots and gloves. (AFP)

Gaultier shared a video on his Instagram this week inviting his followers to attend the show and celebrate the end of his half-century career with him. “It is going to be a party with my friends, and we are going to have fun until very, very late.”

He then went on to announce his farewell. “Now I am going to share something with you. This will be my last haute couture show. Be there! You can’t miss this,” he said. “However, stay tuned, Gaultier Paris will go on. The haute couture continues. I have a new concept and I will tell you about it later.”