Could Riyadh Become the Gulf’s Fashion Capital?

The Kingdom holds its first major fashion event

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Could Riyadh become the Middle East’s fashion capital? The possibilities are endless. And with the latest from the Kingdom’s capital, it looks like it’s slowly becoming a reality. 

The city just held its first major fashion event, entitled Fashion Futures, with some of the industry’s biggest heavyweights jetting off to the kingdom for the first time just for the occasion.

Model Halima Aden was among them, alongside Dutch couturier Iris Van Herpen, British designer Giles Deacon, Hypebeast Editor-in-chief Arby Li, and All Saints Creative Director Wil Beedle. The three-day event featured talks, panels, workshops and discussions that also included Saudi creatives, like designers Hatem Al Akeel and Honayda Serafi, as well as photographer Hayat Osamah. 

The event, which kicked off on November 4, comes as part of Riyadh Season, which will see over 100 events take place in the Saudi capital over the next three months. Hamed Fayez, Vice Minister of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture kicked off the event with a speech. Halima Aden followed with a keynote address titled ‘Don’t be Afraid to be the First’, whilst Van Herpen was interviewed by journalist Jessica Michault. 

The move to bring a fashion event to Saudi Arabia is further proof of the steps the nation is taking to make Vision 2030, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, a reality. 

In his speech, Fayez noted: ““with the launch of a standalone Fashion Commission, today we open a new chapter for the fashion industry in our country, the first platform of its kind in Saudi Arabia.” Fayez also announced a scholarship that will see four Saudi students make their way to New York City to pursue fashion degrees at Parsons, The New School. 

Her Highness Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud also expressed excitement for the future of the fashion industry in Saudi Arabia. In a speech given at the event, her hope for young generations was clear. 

“When one goes into an isolation period, one’s colour of material, culture and fabric simply disappears. For thirty years the richness we saw was translated to this. But it was paused, it was simply paused, it was not extinguished, it was there, it was growing for the young generation who are going to take us from the binary black and white narrative back to embracing our culture of colour, joy, connectivity and activity.” She said.

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