The Middle East fashion sector is expected to post 15% growth in 2010, according to a study conducted by the French Fashion University Esmod – Dubai, the leading fashion institution in the region.

Abaya design by one of Esmod's students.
Abaya design by one of Esmod's students.

The study foresees numerous opportunities in the $12bn Gulf clothing market, which is attracting more brands to the affluent and increasingly fashion-conscious region.

The study has revealed that there are several factors contributing to the surge in the Arab fashion sector, including the emergence of a pervasive regional ‘mall culture’ as shown by the launching of numerous commercial centers; a robust retail fashion business; and a rising regional interest among the world’s top designers as well as the growing popularity of Arab designers.

The fashion house identifies the UAE as an emerging global fashion hub; it explains that an AC Nielsen survey revealed that a third of UAE respondents bought luxury goods and that UAE residents are some of the most prolific buyers of designer apparel and accessories. Esmod adds that the introduction of the Armani Hotel Dubai in the recently-inaugurated Burj Khalifa tower reflects the continuous evolution of the Emirates’ fashion scene.

The cosmopolitan city of Dubai in particular has become renowned as a melting pot of fashion brands. The Dubai International Financial center, a focal point of regional finance, is also home to top fashion stores such as Villa Moda and Issey Miyake. Even the domestic real estate sector has incorporated fashion into its lineup of developments, as embodied by the Hotel Armani in the Burj Khalifa and the upcoming Isla Moda, the world’s first dedicated fashion island to be built on Dubai’s ‘The World’ project, which will feature limited-edition homes designed by fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld. A similar Dhs26bn mixed-use residential and retail fashion district called ‘Style City’ is also in the works in Abu Dhabi.

“Our industry is among the few in the world which remains optimistic despite the downturn. More so here in the Middle East, where the combination of high spending power and a strong fashion sense have sustained the dynamism of the fashion market. One of the important things for our industry to do is to find and develop more talent that can help strengthen the region’s fashion culture. They will be key to bringing unique designs which harmonize modernity and Arab heritage to the global stage,”

said Tamara Hostal, Director and Founder of French Fashion University Esmod – Dubai. The ‘Global Fashion Industry – Growth in Emerging Markets’ report released in 2009 grouped the UAE with South Africa, Singapore, India, Russia, and Brazil as new and unique emerging global fashion markets. It gave the UAE fashion scene good scores for government support, awareness of international fashion brands, organizational support, demand for fashion apparel, and recognition of local designers.

The report adds that the number of major fashion events held in the Emirates more than doubled from four in 2004 to nine in 2008.Meanwhile, the French Fashion University Esmod Dubai and Russian Emirates Publishing are embarking on a joint event (open day) for the Russian Community in the Emirates, seeking to tap the fashion sense and insight of Russians residing in the country. The open day will take place on February 6th 2010 on campus at Dubai Academic City from 11 am to 6 pm.Fashion is expected to perform exceptionally well worldwide in 2010, with textile and apparel trade forecast to reach $655bn within the year. Textile and apparel currently account for around 6% of total world exports, with the apparel sector representing 57% of the international textile and apparel trade. Fashion employment opportunities are projected to grow by at least 10% within the next five years.

The Dubai branch of Esmod aims to increase the UAE‘s share in the thriving industry. Since its launch in 2006, French Fashion University Esmod – Dubai has been instrumental in developing fashion professionals and establishing the UAE as the region’s fashion hub. The University is one of 21 fashion schools overseen by the renowned Esmod International Group. It offers 3-year bachelor degree programs, 3 years diploma program equivalent to a BA degree, publicly-accessible short programs, customized short courses, master’s of arts programs, and masterclasses for professionals, all delivered in English.