The Next Iteration of Kuwait’s Oud Fashion Talks

In recent years, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a region made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, has attracted the attention of the global fashion industry, media and consumers.

Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup 2022 has resulted in a tourist influx and a surge in luxury brand activity, including the opening of Printemps Doha and Dior and Louis Vuitton’s investments in Qatar Duty Free boutiques. In 2021, the Middle East’s first World Expo will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with shows by Chanel, Armani and others.

Recognizing the opportunity to bring GCC’s Kuwait back onto the international fashion map, Zainab Abdulrazzaq, founder of fashion and beauty publication, has launched Oud Fashion Talks (OFT) in May 2022. .

The inaugural event – a black tie dinner, an exhibition and a series of lectures – held at the Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Center in Kuwait, will celebrate and explore the future of the industry in Kuwait and the Middle East, and bring together international and We speak to local fashion editors, designers and retailers. Oud Fashion Talks took the stage with BoF’s Imran Amed, Elie Saab Jr, Al-Ostoura’s Najla Maatouk, former Harper’s Bazaar Arabia editor Louise Nichol and more.

In fact, the GCC will record $2.9 billion in total luxury fashion sales in 2021, with Kuwait accounting for 15% of the regional market, according to Bain & Co. Mordor Intelligence also forecasts market growth for the luxury sector in the Middle East and North. Africa (MENA) region with a CAGR of 8.5% from 2022 to 2025.

Now the BoF sits down with Oud’s Zainab Abdulrazzaq to share her thoughts on the first edition of Oud Fashion Talks, her take on the future of fashion in the region, and gearing up for the second iteration of the event. Learn about the opportunities that await within. .

Why is Oud Fashion Talks important to Kuwait’s positioning in the international fashion industry?

Now is the time for Kuwait to become part of the conversation and a major player in the fashion industry. I believe Kuwait has all the ingredients to be part of the international fashion community. But it is important to build the right structures, recruit the right creative talent and build them internationally. So when he started planning Oud Fashion Talks, he did so with a vision to reposition Kuwait on the map and the fashion scene, not just in the GCC, but globally.

Kuwaiti consumers are know-how and bold. It is also open to Western countries and their styles. Kuwait is a diverse country with many nationalities and has developed a creative community.

Have the lessons learned from the first iteration of OFT influenced the evolution of OFT?

Through Oud Fashion Talks, I learned that there are so many designers and creators in Kuwait and the private sector is very supportive of this industry. Securing a funding partner is often the biggest challenge in any project, but for us it was the easiest part of organizing the event.

Previously, Kuwait’s government did not realize how important fashion is to the economy and the country itself, for the country’s branding and publicity. I hope it was helpful. I think they care more about this now that we are more conscious.

Previously, challenges were more internal […] And now we are encouraging more national awareness and want to increase our international exposure.

I never expected this event to be so successful. We’ve been under pressure for next year, but we want to improve for the next iteration. The event itself is longer — previously he lasted two days with a gala and a panel discussion the next day. I think we should add a workshop and extend it to 3 days.

What will be the focus of next year’s talks and celebrations?

We want to focus more on bringing Kuwait’s fashion industry an awareness of how important it is to the country and how it benefits the economy itself.

In addition to content related to fashion, we also publish content related to jewelry and accessories. In the first edition, Elie Saab Jr. shares her story as a successful local designer.

The first edition was also about business, and we have received many requests from young Kuwaiti photographers who want to learn about the industry and want to access the industry, so we would like to hold workshops with photographers as well. I would like to speak to you again. We also want them to have more digital expertise as it has become so important to this business.

We also want to create a fund to support local Kuwaiti designers, i.e. all designers living in Kuwait regardless of their nationality.

The newly launched website has a section where designers can apply and send in what they have. Like last year, we plan to hold an exhibition for designers to open up their work to international editors and potential investors.

What are your hopes for the future of fashion in Kuwait and the wider GCC, and what role is OFT playing in supporting them?

Previously, the challenge was more internal — I wanted to change the Kuwaiti system. I am looking for exposure.

I feel great potential. I don’t understand why the West and Middle East consumer sectors still exist. We want to build a community that supports local talent.

I realized it was time to give back and encourage systemic change where possible. But I don’t think one initiative is enough.

The Oud Fashion Talks event will take place May 10-12, 2023.

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