JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Fashion Commission has announced a new digital initiative that will launch next week with an event that will be broadcast live from Riyadh and New York.
Fashion Futures, which was introduced in 2019 as the first event dedicated to the fashion sector in the Kingdom, will be relaunched as a digital platform on June 17 with Fashion Futures Live: Moving Towards Sustainability, Diversity and Innovation.
The event, which will take place simultaneously in the Kingdom and the US, will be streamed online to participants through a specially designed, interactive virtual platform. It is being presented in cooperation with Fashinnovation, a global platform for sustainability, innovation and entrepreneurship in fashion.
The organizers of Fashion Futures says its aim is “to bring together fashion’s most inspiring leaders, digital distributors and design mavericks for unprecedented conversations surrounding innovation and sustainability.”
Notable international speakers due to appear at the event include: Susan Rockefeller, the president and trustee of Oceana, a non-profit marine-conservation foundation; Rebecca Minkoff, a fashion designer and author of “Fearless: The New Rules for Unlocking Creativity, Courage, and Success;” Oskar Metsavaht, an environmental activist and founder of fashion brand Osklen; Helen Aboah, the CEO of luxury lifestyle brand Urban Zen; and Abrima Erwiah, co-founder of Studio One Eighty Nine, a social enterprise that promotes and curates African fashion.
The discussions will cover topics such as diversity, sustainable-development goals, entrepreneurship and innovation in the fashion industry. They will be moderated by Fashinnovation co-founder Jordana Guimaraes from New York City, and Taghrid Alhowish, a TV presenter and producer from Dubai.
“We are honored to host some of the world’s greatest minds in business sustainability to discuss the pressing issues we are facing today, especially the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” said Burak Cakmak, CEO of the Fashion Commission.
“And since there is no sector that has not been affected by it, virtual platforms such as Fashion Futures enable discussions to break down barriers by engaging experts from all over the world in this critical dialogue, and by collaborating and exchanging ideas we can draw on a wide range of expertise and strive toward a sustainable global fashion industry.”
He said that Saudi Arabia can serve as an example of how to build an innovative, sustainable and appropriate fashion sector, locally and internationally. By working with innovators in the sector, attracting retail experiences and establishing partnerships for education, business development and entrepreneurship, he added, the Kingdom will be able to develop the processes and brands of local businesses to improve them in line with international best practices.
In addition to broadcasting talks and discussions, the Fashion Futures platform will also offer training courses and workshops, with the aim of providing a fertile environment for the exchange of knowledge, innovation and ideas. Another live event is scheduled to take place in December in Riyadh.
Mohammed Khoja, Saudi fashion designer and founder of the luxury fashion brand Hindamme, said the new forum created another building block toward furthering the growing cultural exchange between Saudi Arabia and the West.
“(This) will highlight a lot of the talent we have in the Kingdom as well as nurture collaborations and partnerships,” he told Arab News. “I’m truly excited for this next chapter which very much feels like a renaissance. Efforts such as these by the Fashion Commission greatly contribute to the growth of the industry and help designers such as myself to pursue our passion.”
Saudi student Kenda Jambi, 21, was excited about the Kingdom’s progress in the field of fashion, especially since she was planning on pursuing a serious career in the sector.
“Our Kingdom seems to be taking huge steps into a new path of opportunities never explored before for both the community and the people who are passionate about fashion,” she told Arab News. “The Kingdom is giving us the wings we need to stand next to our peers from all around the world. “
She said that fashion had become a career that could be pursued by many. Instead of being “shunned and thrown aside, it has become a job just like any other, no longer just a mere hobby,” she added.
As a fashion student, this step meant that she no longer feared the future but, rather, looked forward to it. Majoring in fashion was challenging for Jambi as she had many “Debbie Downers” who constantly told her that her major was not in demand in the labor market.
But recent changes and reforms in the country had proved them wrong, she said. “It gave us chances and opportunities to put our hands to work and take part in creating a community of passionate, and creative individuals who help build a fashion capital using our own culture.”
The Fashion Commission is one of 11 Saudi cultural bodies established in February last year by the Ministry of Culture to oversee the development and success of cultural sub-sectors.
With the Fashion Futures initiative, the commission aims to lead the way in achieving a more globally sustainable fashion sector, in addition to developing the local fashion industry.