LOS ANGELES, June 9, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The fourth annual Arab Fashion Week at The Meydan Hotel in Dubai ended on May 20 but the lessons learned by retailers will endure indefinitely.
"Women's clothing in the Middle East is changing," noted Eason Wu, the Product Purchasing Supervisor for ZAFUL (www.zaful.com), an Asian online fashion retailer. "Although most women still wear an abaya and hijab, the preferred colors are more striking and the styles are more fashionable. In addition, under their abaya and hijabs, there is a growing fashion world. Designers for this market are realizing that it's OK to show some feminine personality.
"That why we were there. We're looking for fashion elements that will enable us to serve this market."
Middle East style
This year's event featured a greater emphasis on Middle East style, including fashionable made-to-measure clothes for women as well as men. In some ways, it was comparable to Paris and Milan fashion weeks.
For example, designer ILse Jara showcased a line that included bean sand color, red, dark green and other favorite shades of the Middle East, splicing flower patterns with the metallic texture of the fabric.
Fashions are slowly changing
Although most Middle Eastern women still prefer long dresses - those styles dominated the catwalks - midi- and mini-dresses are starting to make an impact with this audience.
Eckett Couture, a local online fashion outlet, showcased a special abaya brand, using soft fabric, adding lace, hand embroidery and other elements to black and nude colors. The effect was an elegant, full-length dress that highlighted the charm of the female body without sacrificing the Middle East heritage.
"While the cultural impacts of traditional dress are hard to let go, Middle Eastern women's dress is slowly beginning to become liberated," said Eason. "The first step is to design a dress that shows a woman's physical characteristics. Women can wear the hijab and abaya, and still be fashionable."
Aiisha Ramadan showcased its latest resort collection, L'Azure, displaying eight different styles of swimwear with models. They represented women from different walks of life.
Showcasing a variety of bathing suits and burkinis, this collection draws inspiration from the ocean, depicting deep hues of blue and red, representing the mystery and magic of life under the sea.
"The swimsuit has always been a big seller for ZAFUL," said Eason, "so it's important to find out as much as we can about the preferences in the Middle Eastern market. Our swimsuits are young and stylish but that might not be a good fit in this area. We learned a great deal about what might work better by seeing the Aiisha Ramadan collection.
"We do know that bathing suits are more popular than bikinis in the Middle East and that solid colors style are favored. So we'll continue to research this market. Arab Fashion Week gave us a lot of good information but it's just a start."
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