Tania Fares Wants to Change the Arab Fashion Industry
The Lebanese philanthropist on the power of diversity and why she loves Arab designers
Sarah Ben Romdane
Entrepreneur, philanthropist, art patron and fashion consultant, Lebanese-born and London-based Tania Fares is unquestionably driven by passion. After having founded Fashion Trust, her non-profit initiative supporting British designers in the UK back in 2011 – which allowed for designers like Mary Katrantzou, Emilia Wickstead and Sophia Webster to rise – Fares has recently decided to go back to her roots. In September, she launched Fashion Trust Arabia, making it her mission to help Arab designers from the Middle East and North Africa get international exposure.
In a region that sadly lacks infrastructures, it’s often hard for a young designer to sustain a career as a fashion designer. But the Arab world is emboldened by a flourishing creative scene that’s literally just been waiting for someone to push the needle forward, to help change both the industry and the conversation. With Fashion Trust Arabia, Fares is committed to do both.
Having just announced an outstanding list of international judges including Olivier Rousteing, Pierpaolo Piccioli and Natalia Vodianova, as well as a partnership with MATCHESFASHION.COM, we caught up with Fares to find out how she was first introduced to fashion, when she realised she had to launch Fashion Trust Arabia, and how fashion can change the world.
You’re Lebanese but you also lived in the US and in Europe. Did your international background influence your love of fashion?
I grew up in Lebanon until I was nine-years-old, and then I moved to Paris, where I studied at university. This is where I was first introduced to fashion; it was the best times. I was always fascinated by how designers were so creative and how they exalted women. My first experience was at Pierre Cardin and it had a big influence on me.
When did you realise it was fundamental to launch fashion Trust in the Middle East?
I was launching my book London Uprising: Fifty Fashion Designers, One City in Jordan in 2017, where I met so many young Jordanian designers, they were so passionate and inspiring. They all told me how much the region needed something like Fashion Trust, and so I thought it was my responsibility to make it happen.
Why did they tell you they needed Fashion Trust?
They face diverse challenges on so many levels, particularly in terms of production and exposure. Our plan is to help them financially and mentally, making sure they can develop sustainable businesses. If they win, they get access to Harrods and MATCHESFASHION.COM. When I told my friend Ruth Chapman, founder of Matches, about the initiative, she was so keen to participate! With our help, talents will be introduced to a qualified and influential community of professionals and journalists, who will support them at all stages.
We’re seeing more designers from outside the West emerging in the scene. How would you explain that?
People want diversity and reality. I work closely with the British Vogue, and over there, the conversation is all about inclusiveness. Now is a great time for international designers to finally express themselves and share their vision because their voices have to be heard.
Do you believe that fashion has the power to change things?
I think that creativity has a strong power: to bring people together.
Photography by John Russo