Images courtesy of the Fashion Commission, Ministry of Culture
After a well-earned feat, the finalists that made it into the inaugural “Saudi 100 Brands” programme are gearing up to learn from top fashion experts so they can achieve their vision and aspiration for their brands. The Saudi talents who were chosen from a shortlist of over 400 during an uber-competitive fashion showdown are set to benefit from the mentorship programme that includes advice from industry legends like LVMH, Kering, Chanel, Valentino, Bulgari and Chanel.
Alongside a plethora of younger start-up brands, the shortlisted candidates from The Fashion Commission’s latest initiative include a bridal wear designer from Khobar whose fashion career spans four decades and a third-generation family jewellery business based in Riyadh. Saudis operating out of London and Dubai also made the cut, as did more established fashion brands from the Kingdom, all reflecting a positive response to the opportunity for ongoing, tailor-made, international-subject-matter-expert advice.
The “Saudi 100 Brands” programme, which covers branding and conceptualization, innovation and technology, sales performance and marketing strategy, as well as key leadership skills, is commencing immediately. The rigorous scheme that also includes international partnerships with “Vogue Arabia” and regional retailers features regular weekly masterclasses and mentoring sessions. Finalists will take part in at least two one-on-one mentoring sessions each month, where progress will be mapped from the perspectives of business development as well as more technical design. Using a bespoke approach, the “Saudi 100 Brands” team will ask the finalists to set the journey-compass by sharing their dreams and hopes for their participation in the scheme. The “Saudi 100 Brands” experts will then tailor the programme to the brands’ individual needs.
The Competition Process
Intensive sessions with the “Saudi 100 Brands” Curation Committee saw the nominated candidates interviewed about their approach to business and design. Those living in the Kingdom were invited over a period of two weeks to attend in-person interviews at hubs located in Riyadh and Jeddah, while virtual interviews were arranged for those living abroad. Their collections were also scrutinized by fashion experts. Finalists were then placed into different categories including Bridal, Demi-Couture, Ready-to-Wear, Premium, Abaya, Menswear, Bags, Jewellery and Concept, which will shape the programme’s process for each of them moving forward.
“The enthusiasm and excitement from shortlisted candidates during interviews was palpable, with designers keen to share their business-journey stories, including setbacks and successes, with the Fashion Commission team,” Fashion Commission Sector Development Director, Her Highness Princess Noura bint Faisal Al Saud, said.
The Saudi royal also said the Kingdom's designers, who value and love their clients, were very passionate in expressing the struggles they encountered while founding a brand, manufacturing and reaching a wider audience.
“Many articulated the challenges they face, and a fear of not being able to realize their dreams. As the Fashion Commission, we completely understand this, and speaking to our talented community first-hand is driving us to plan even more initiatives to nurture an environment that inspires and enables all to reach their goals,” she added.
The competition organized by the commission, which was founded in 2020 to lead the development of the Kingdom’s fashion sector, saw over 1,300 applications from Saudi fashion designers living across three continents. The application process revealed an astonishingly diverse range of creative fashion design talent as well as the increasingly large number of established Saudi fashion designers already running successful businesses in the Kingdom and in international fashion hubs around the world.