What is a pulse? A bit of Googling describes it as “a rhythmical throbbing of the arteries as blood is propelled through them”. In other words, a pulse is life, the pure, uninterrupted essence of life.
Your/Our Pulse is precisely that; it represents the daily life of everything the Arab fashion industry creates and magnifies day, after day, after day.
Fashion Trust Arabia‘s Honorary Chair Sheikha Moza bint Nasser and her co-chairs Sheikha Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani and Tania Fares first created Pulse in 2020 as a showcase for the the finalists of the annual FTA Prize in its various categories (evening dress, ready-to-wear, jewelry, accessories, debut talent and guest country). Pulse was conceived as a giant projector shining its light on each leg of their career paths. However, the people in charge quickly realized that this wasn’t enough, that Pulse’s ultimate mission should be to convey to the world every dream the MENA region could offer; that it should do so by enhancing and supporting these dreams and spreading them all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf, from Morocco to Oman and everywhere in-between.
Here we are a year later, and, while we’re both happy and proud, we need to continue to strive to do better, aim higher, go further, and be stronger. We are invested in a multi-faceted mission. First, we need to tell the stories of these fashion designers; we need to tell the stories of these crafts, of the work done by talented men and women, stories of creative directors, stylists, models, photographers, videographers, content creators, makeup and hair stylists … the list goes on and on. Then, we need to remind the world that we, as Arabs, are just as talented, creative and the capable of nurturing our dreams as anyone else. Third, we need to build up the FTA community daily; we need to bring all these artists and talents together and sow these endless fields of possibility with seeds of creativity. Finally, we need to insist, steadfastly and tirelessly, on fundamental values such as inclusivity, diversity, respect for each other’s differences, and women’s empowerment while also supporting conscientious, responsible and ecologically-oriented fashion.
THE WEEKLY AND THE MONTHLY
In 2021, we set up a compelling weekly and monthly rendezvous with you.
“Pulse from the Past” narrates History, with a capital H, interspersed with interesting anecdotes, the likes of which only fashion produces. So, for example, we told you how fashion follows us and not the other way round, we told the stories of guyliner and manscara, of babouches and harem pants, and we also dissected the dangerous liaisons between fashion and art…
“Pulse of Today” facilitates immersion in the latest trends: colors – pink, green or purple -, knits and sweaters, boots and loafers and, most importantly, the post-confinement revival of volume, which was our most read article of the year.
“Pulse loves the Newbie” is part of our basic DNA: setting off on a voyage of discovery to find new or very young brands that few people know of, such as Trending Topic and Pickloz (Tunisia), Run Naked (Palestine) or AOI (Kuwait).
Finally, “Young, Arab and Proud” is a Q&A that has attracted more than 20 young creative spirits from the four corners of the Arab world. They tackled sensitive issues such as Arab identity and the bad habits that we Arabs can’t seem to shake. They also addressed some crucial questions: what’s their favorite meal, or who’s the greatest star, Fairouz or Um Kulthum… That last one’s a dangerous question.
THE SPECIAL EDITIONS
In 2021, we also commemorated the ill fated first anniversary of the Beirut Blast by bringing you poignant testimonies from many of the key players in the Lebanese fashion industry, people who often lost so much on that disastrous August day, including, Hussein Bazaza, Roni Helou, Krikor Jabotian, Amine Jreissati, Jessica K, Sandra Mansour, Éric Ritter (Emergency Room), Mukhi Sisters, Elias Samia (Local Vice), and Azzi&Osta.
This year, we also celebrated the Month of Diversity and Inclusivity by bringing forth a dozen articles aimed at reminding everyone that fashion is, above all, self appreciation and needs to be about the acceptance of others, because by no means are we clones. So we talked about breast cancer and Arab Fashion, about hijabs, plastic surgery, the tyranny of sizing, the power of silver, modest fashion, and influencers making a difference.
We also shared our “Season’s Holidays” series by providing you with a list of gifts in a range of price brackets, helping you find the right clothes, makeup and the latest hair trends. We also suggested the best tableware and fine dining experiences, as well as fashion advice for 2022 according to your astrological sign. Let us not forget, also, “The Best Way To Start 2022”, our beginning of the year series that showed you the best ways to wear your positivity with ten différents crystals, helped you meditate differently, take better care of your closets, or understand why number 6 is very important this year in numerology.
Finally, we studied the Covid 19 pandemic and the various confinement periods from every angle. We shared with you stories about mental health, playbooks for getting into a fashion school or bridal during the pandemic; we imagined for you the first post-Covid party or the first post-Covid date, we showed you how to wear your vaccine, helped you get back to high heels, shared the latest streetwear trends, and even taught you how to wash your hands in style! We also, of course, talked post-pandemic business: luxury retail, wholesale buyers’ habits, the fashion market in the MENA region, and the fashion industry’s recovery.
THE CORE (OF FASHION)
This year we strove, with you by our side, to follow fashion wherever it might be. We found it on television with“Squid Games” of course, and “Al Rawabi School for Girls” but also with “Gossip Girls” and “Sex and the City” that we tried to imagine in the Arab world. We also found it at the movies with Lady Gaga and “Gucci”, in archives with “Lebanese Fashion History” and “Levantine Artisanal Tradition” in New York. We uncovered it in paintings by Amina Salem, in music with the timeless duo of Rock ‘n’ Roll and fashion and in museums, with Huguette Caland at the Qatar Museum, or the Arab divas at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, observing it in the Arts with “Cartier and Islamic Art” or with Vuitton and Zad Moultaka. We heard it on the ‘radio’ with podcasts by Dana Boulos and Joy Asfar. Fashion is everywhere, and so is Pulse!
Everywhere, and in the heart of everything from abayas, kaftans, demi-couture, red carpets, leisurewear, swimwear and kidswear, dopamine dressing, in the codes of desert chic, amid extravaganzas, accessories (Lebanese sneakers, earstyling with Maria Tash, lab grown diamonds, toiletry bags, microbags, ballerina flats) and beauty and wellness (CBD trends, UV vs. tanning, the perfumes, the henna) and finally, and in no way least, gender, or rather genderless dressing.
THE BUSINESS AND THE SUSTAINABILITY
In 2021, we chatted a lot about economics, the fashion business and new technologies that are proving pivotal as the digital world encompasses our own – fashion included. This is a time of NFTs and the never ending Metaverse. We also showed you how to shop with WhatsApp, how to thrift shop in Amman, how jewelry fits in the Arab market; we told you about new wave concept stores in Dubai, the Chalhoub dynasty, the retail scene in the GCC, retail therapy with Rania Masri El Khatib, and we took a look at the impact of the new weekend in the UAE and, last but not least, why we Arab consumers should be seen as way more than a pair of deep pockets.
Sustainability was also, naturally, a big part of the conversation. We zoomed in on Roni Helou, Emergency Room, Zyne, Asim, Krikor Jabotian, Zeid Hijazi, Kotn, Iam Mai, Hanna Rasekh and Hasna Kourda, and we talked in detail about upcycling, greenwashing vs. sustainability, plastic waste turned fashion items, climate change and the MENA fashion’s responsibility to us all.
Over the course of the past 365 days, we naturally said everything there was to say about our 24 very talented finalists running for our 2021 Prize. We asked them to imagine outfits and accessories for the Oscars, the red carpet at Cannes, the Met Gala, and Earth Day. We also asked them to reinvent an iconic outfit from the Arab world, the abaya. And we shared with you, in detail, the FTA Awards and the unforgettable evening of November 3rd.
You have also been eager to follow our “FTA Meets” series with Azza Slimene, Salma Abu Deif, Elyanna, Zeina Makki and Issam Al Najjar, and our collaborations and partnerships with Barbara Sturm, Jacquie Aiche, Malone Souliers, Messika and Galeries Lafayette Doha.
What can we say? We did everything we could to keep you informed, entertained, intrigued, amused, touched and satisfied. We sincerely hope that we achieved all that, and we promise you that in 2022, we will do way, way more, and work way, way harder. Because without you, our readers from all over the world, Pulse has no purpose. At all.
THE TEN MOST READ ARTICLES
Here are the ten most read stories published on Pulse from 01/27/2021 to 01/27/2022.
1 | PUMP UP THE VOLUME
In one of her monthly “Pulse of Today” pieces, Fifi Abou Dib told us why, in a post-pandemic era, the new key word in the fashion industry is “Oversized”.
2 | FASHION AND ARTS: THE DANGEROUS LIAISONS
In another “Pulse from the Past”, Fifi Abou Dib reviewed the complex relationship between fashion and the arts, focusing on Virgil Abloh, who had the genius to put together stories from around the world, mixing architecture with literature, the personal with the universal, the mundane with the spiritual.
3 | THE 5 COMMANDMENTS OF CONSCIOUS SHOPPING
Sujata Assomull interviewed British-Jordanian fashion influencer Hannah Rasekh, who has made conscious consumerism her calling card, and who shared her easy-to-follow style tips.
4 | ARAB FASHION AND BREAST CANCER: WE CAN DO MORE!
With very touching testimonials, Sujata Assomull looked at how fashion, especially homegrown Arab brands, can be more inclusive to breast cancer survivors.
5 | THE HOUSE OF GAGA
Saif Hidaya looked back at some of Lady Gaga’s most memorable fashion moments, some of which were from our very own MENA designers, and reminded us that all eyes will be on what the star, and what she’s wearing, for The House of Gucci’s red carpet premieres in the next few weeks.
6 | LET POSITIVITY SHINE THROUGH THE POWER OF CRYSTALS
In the first episode of our “The Best Way to Start 2022” series, Jessica Bounni helped us discover how gemstones can let us aim for a better, positive and prosperous new year!
7 | WHEN WILL MENA FASHION BECOME RESPONSIBLE?
Wildfires in Turkey and Greece, floods in Venice – every summer, natural disasters strike all over the world… Sujata Assomull looked at how the key stakeholders in MENA fashion can become “Climate Positive”.
Forest fire in Bouira Algeria II
8 | QUICKEN YOUR PULSE WITH THESE FIVE ARAB KAFTANS
Sandra Mansour, Amal Al Mulla, Bouguessa, SemSem and 1309: You will adore these Arab-designed kaftans, chosen for you by Sujata Assomull.
9 | NATALIE KINGMAN TALKS MENTORSHIP AND E-COMMERCE
Marwan Naaman interviewed the fashion and buying director of MatchesFashion, Natalie Kingman, who reflected on the FTA Prize Winners’ retail successes.
10 | NFTS: LONGING TO BECOME THE JEWELER’S BEST FRIENDS
Philippe Hage Boutros explained why developing the necessary tech environment to widen access to, and trading of, non-fungible tokens in the MENA region will be a long and arduous process.