Arab fashion designers have a good reputation – you’ll find their creations everywhere from the red carpet to high-end boutiques. But for smaller, independent designers, breaking into the industry isn’t easy. Lucky for them, MILK Concept Store is trying to help.
“It is so important to support local and regional designers, and MILK showcases them as a hub where you can find an eclectic mix of things,” says Laya Saleh, the company’s brand manager.
Eclectic is an understatement. The store, located in Bahrain, opened in December 2016 with products from 50 designers representing nine Arab countries. The idea for MILK came when Wafa AlObaidat, the store’s founder and head of PR and design agency Obai and Hill, noticed a gap in the market for regional designers.
“MILK promotes and encourages designers of all ages and walks of life who are looking to make a mark in the region with their brands,” Saleh says. As if that weren’t enough, MILK also runs deeper than your average shopping experience – they tell the story of their many designers and products.
The store wants to build up local art to boost the economy, so that fashion relies upon Arab designers, not Western ones. That’s good news for people in the region, but the experience has also been helpful for the people behind the store.
“It has been eye-opening and inspiring to see how people use their backgrounds and stories and turn them into unique and beautiful fashion pieces,” Saleh says.
She also notes that fashion tastes in the region mix Arabic design with more modern fashion, making clothing internationally appealing without sacrificing cultural pride and expression. As with any fashion venture, expression is key.
“MILK inspires the younger generation to aspire towards building platforms that unify the creative spirit of the region to express themselves through fashion statements,” Saleh says.
Their mission is strikingly appropriate given their location. The MILK Concept Store is in Riyadat Mall, an incubator for female entrepreneurship. It provides financial help as well as a physical location for women entrepreneurs to find their target audience.
“Opportunities like this inspire and motivate women to be independent and focus on their own goals, dreams, and aspirations,” Saleh says, commenting on Riyadat Mall.
But that opportunity doesn’t stop at MILK – they have already paid it forward to 50 designers.