According to Business Wire, the menswear market is expected to grow by a compound annual growth rate of 6% between 2020- 2024, that’s about $153.9. There is a hunger for menswear labels as womenswear has dominated the fashion market for many years. We have seen in the last year that the industry is striving to be more inclusive and diverse, and for menswear there is space for emerging and established designers. We saw that last week with Valentino Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli featuring twenty-three men’s looks during Haute Couture week, a first in seeing men’s looks on the Haute Couture runway.
Jacob Abrian, CEO of the The Arab Fashion Council (AFC) and Mohammed Aqra, the Chief Strategy Officer are doing something about putting a men’s week in the Arab region on the map. They just unveiled the inaugural Arab Men’s Fashion Week that took place over the weekend, digitally from Dubai. Strategically partnering with the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM), the AFC showcased fifteen brands from the UAE, Lebanon, Iran, Sweden, Paraguay, the UK and France as they revealed their autumn-winter 2021 collections.
Abrian and Aqra saw how fashion in the Middle East has been rapidly growing over the past five years but with very little representation for menswear. According to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, menswear dominated the UAE apparel sector in 2018, bringing in a revenue of $12.3 billion. “The partnership with FHCM is mutually strategic, the French fashion industry, which is governed by the realm of FHCM, has created some of the world’s most acclaimed fashion empires and scouted some of the most creative emerging brands,” says Abrian. “The strategic collaboration is certainly an added value to support building a robust fashion economy in the Middle East and to introduce Parisian designers to the Arab market.”
On opening night Amato Couture, the Dubai based label launched its first menswear collection for the fashion week, showing looks with a color palette of whites and pastel colors, with couture craftsmanship of embroidery highlighted each look shot in Dubai’s desert. Iranian label, Zar-Douz put nature at the center of the collection with hints of mountains and water. Rabih Rowell’s Anomalous brand exemplified dualism of day wear and night wear. The Lebanese designer who now resides in Dubai had directed global campaigns for designers like Jean Paul Gaultier.
In a Q & A moment ACF Chief Strategy officer Mohammed Aqra spoke with FHCM’s Head of Emerging Brands, Serge Carreira about emerging brands and how to navigate the journey of becoming a fashion empire. FHCM presented designer Arturo Obegero and his sustainable eponymous label, showcasing drama and emotions in an age of Covid in his collection.
And Lebanese designer Amine Jreissati and founder of Boyfriend’s Beirut showroom was destroyed during the Beirut explosion on August 4, 2020, presented his minimal silhouette, subliminal detailed and gender invisible collection. In closing out the first night of Men’s Week he noted, “The significance is that the region finally realized how both men and women’s fashion are equally important. I am Happy to be part of this change. The menswear market has been growing considerably these past few years and I am thrilled to see the Middle East taking part in as established regional brands. It gives us exposure, credibility and awareness.”
The second night saw collection reveals from EGONlab, a FHCM brand where we saw their masculine tailoring.
Iranian designer Behnood Javaherpour’s collection “Masculine Femininity,” brings attention to androgynous fashion styles, which for Behnood are neither feminine or masculine but gender inclusive and sexually neutral. “The collection is all about being androgynous,” says Javaherpour. Continuing he goes on to say, “Middle Eastern men take a lot of pride in their appearances and to be part of a platform that gives a regional and global outreach to showcase their style was very exciting for my brand Behnoode. It also allows visibility for a designer like me who is a pioneer of stylish men to showcase my collection. I would love to empower men through my designs and give guidance to them on how to look elegant and stylish for every occasion.”
Beirut’s Emergency Room, an eclectic brand with a mind of its own continued the shows, followed by British brand Velsvoir unveiling their collection and FHCM Parisian brand LGN, Louis Gabriel Nouchi presenting his collection through a dance ensemble.
Ending was Day Three’s line up was Swedish brand Lazoschmidl; Paraguay-based brand Vropardo, who debuted their collection; and Valette Studio, a Paris based design House. Abrian interviewed fashion blogger legend Diane Pernet for the Council Talks on fashion blogging and the future of digital in fashion. Beirut based designer Roni Helou, premiered his collection with a film titled “Road to Exi(s)t.” And, closing out Men’s Fashion Week was UAE based brand Michael Cinco.
As fashion is growing in the Middle East and with menswear being expected to grow in the next three years, it is clear there is a need in the fashion market for men’s brands. “Having a fashion week dedicated to men in the region is strategically important from different perspectives; one is to foster the growth of a new fashion segment that is represented by extremely talented Arab designers and the second is to support gender equality and give men in the region the freedom of expression,” says Mohammed Aqra.
When men in the Arab world see that there are Middle Eastern men’s brands and they realize that they may need to upgrade their fashion style, they will be more apt to shop men’s clothing brands in the region and internationally. This creates healthy competition in the fashion market, it boots sales, and when men are stylish the women standing beside them also feel empowered in their styles. It’s a win-win for both gender fashion markets.
Watch the Men’s Week Show, here.