Dubai Expo 2020

Championing Sustainable British Designs in the Arab World

The British Fashion Council’s Caroline Rush, who was recently in Dubai, tells us about her take on fashion in the Middle East

The British Fashion Council (BFC) is a non-profit whose aim is to promote British creative talent, notably through the organization of London Fashion Week and the British Fashion Awards. Caroline Rush, the Council’s Chief Executive since 2009, has always kept a close eye on Arab fashion. Rush recently visited Dubai in order to host an exclusive catwalk show by leading British label Preen by Thornton Bregazzi.

Furthering the message of the Institute of Positive Fashion, the BFC’s platform is designed to celebrate industry best practice and encourage future business decisions to create positive change, all fabrics within Bregazzi’s collection are recycled, organic, FSC-certified vegan leather and surplus stock, all of which promote sustainable fashion. 

Rush shared her views on fashion in the Arab market with FTA Pulse.

Fashion Trust Arabia: Why did the British Fashion Council host a series of events in Dubai?

Caroline Rush: The aim of the British Fashion Council is to promote British fashion on a global scale and Dubai Expo 2020 is an incredible platform to showcase our designers and fashion innovators to a global audience. It  was critical that fashion held a space in the UK Pavilion considering the industry’s value and weight to the British economy, but also its importance in terms of soft power and cultural contribution. We were thrilled by the support we received from the GREAT Campaign, but also from our partners, HSBC Middle East and Chalhoub Group, who made this project possible.

FTA: There is a lot of buzz around Dubai currently. What are your thoughts on the fashion scene in the MENA region?  

CR: In recent years, Dubai has established itself as a global fashion capital, attracting brands due to its strong spending power, retail infrastructure, creative pulse and appetite for innovation. Dubai has a distinctive spirit and it offers a space for designers to push their creative vision. The city is very welcoming of innovation and focuses a lot on technology. The customer base is very strong and has an appetite for luxury – it is wonderful to see so many international brands succeed in this region of the world but also so many up-and-coming local designers gaining momentum internationally.

FTA: Do you feel this region has an appetite for sustainable fashion?

CR: As the world is changing, so do customers and their expectations as to what fashion stands for. What we clearly saw is that the audience at Dubai Expo 2020 demonstrated a serious appetite for sustainable fashion. At the event, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi held an exclusive catwalk show where all fabrics within the collection were recycled, organic, FSC certified vegan leather and surplus stock – this all resonated well with the local audience. It is important for us to champion sustainable British designs globally to ensure it is a priority, not only across the industry, but also to the public, particularly in markets with such high spending power and potential for engagement.

FTA:  What British label do you feel should be in every Arab woman’s wardrobe?

CR: Arab women have shown great admiration for British fashion. They appreciate the creativity of our designers and the lifestyle in the region lends itself to glamorous, colorful designs. Designers such as Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, Roksanda, Mary Katrantzou, Emilia Wickstead and ERDEM create timeless pieces that are modern, chic and stylish, whilst still centering modesty at the heart of their designs.