Credit By: Arab News Pakistan
A significant turning point in the development of Saudi Arabia’s fashion sector was recently reached when renowned couturier Adnan Akbar, dubbed the “Saint Laurent of the Middle East,” displayed his exquisite creations during the Riyadh Fashion Week. Even though Akbar had previously catered to foreign dignitaries like Princess Diana and French first ladies, he had just now put on a significant fashion show in his own country of Saudi Arabia.
Riyadh Unveils New Fashion
The runway saw a divergence from the customs of the Gulf kingdom’s fashion presentations, with the financial area of Riyadh serving as the backdrop. Akbar’s floor-length gowns and a wedding dress adorned the models, indicating a break from the previous small, women-only gatherings or innovative exhibitions involving flying drones, which drew in a vast crowd that included diplomats and Instagram influencers.
The managing director of the family brand and Adnan’s son, Abdullah Akbar, showed his delight about the significant transition by saying, “What’s happening now is a huge change.”
Government Support and Economic Impact
In 2022, the fashion business in Saudi Arabia made a $12.5 billion contribution or 1.4% of the nation’s GDP. According to the official data from the Saudi Fashion Commission, the industry employs 230,000 people. With the Saudi government providing unheard-of assistance to up-and-coming designers and well-established ones like Adnan Akbar, there is hope that the sector will significantly advance Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 reform goal.
The paper highlights that, under the right circumstances, Saudi Arabia could become a diversified economic powerhouse and move away from fossil fuels thanks to the fashion industry.
Challenges and Opportunities
The industry’s current reliance on imports is one of its main problems; in 2021, the kingdom will spend $7.3 billion on fashion items. The purposeful layout of Riyadh Fashion Week was to highlight regional artists and generate interest in Saudi designers abroad. Burak Cakmak, CEO of the fashion commission, emphasized the robustness of the regional market, pointing out that new initiatives, such as a production facility in Riyadh, are scheduled to launch in the upcoming year.
Cakmak underlined the need to strengthen the domestic economy and retain more value chains domestically to support economic growth that isn’t based on oil.
Societal Changes and Market Gaps
Saudi designers now have more excellent opportunities due to societal reforms brought about by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, such as removing the headscarf and abaya regulations and encouraging more women to enter the workforce. Diverse tastes in fashion have emerged due to changing wardrobe requirements, the removal of religious police, and the opening of previously off-limits attractions.
Saudi Arabia’s traditionally strict gender norms are beginning to change, as evidenced by the rise of streetwear firms and the demand for unisex clothing. Investments are being drawn to brands like 1886, which analysts compare to the massive transformations in China two decades ago.
With the potential for the kingdom to expand its economic influence throughout Asia in the upcoming ten years, there is a tangible sense of excitement about the future as Saudi Arabia’s fashion industry experiences a revival.
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