JEDDAH: The next Coco Chanel or Gianni Versace could be Saudi — and the hunt is on to find them.
A fashion incubation program launched by the Ministry of Culture aims to uncover and promote local designers and entrepreneurs.
It begins with a three-day “fashion hackathon” in which participants will be asked to solve specific fashion-related challenges. The prize is a five-day trip to Milan Fashion Week.
The second phase is a “boot camp” — a five-day virtual event focused on fashion and entrepreneurship that will help participants to develop their ideas, network, and receive advice from professionals.
The third phase is a longer-term incubator providing participants with the guidance and support necessary to “establish foundations and help them strengthen their product,” the ministry said.
Established Saudi designers have welcomed the program.
“Challenges arise in every field but for designers, one of the biggest challenges is networking, understanding how to become trendsetters instead of followers,” said Abou Al-Faraj, who launched her own fashion venture 15 years ago and is known for her unique and distinct vest designs.
Without the proper knowledge and guidance, up-and-coming designers tended to lose their way, she said.
“The Saudi market is open and loves to adopt new styles and trends, and the people are ready. My advice to new designers is to do what they are satisfied with and not do something just because it’s successful for the sake of success in the market. Being unique and tapping into their artistic side is what they need to focus on to go far.”