That this is a region with a penchant for the finer things in life is a given, but it seems that the MENA region has a growing appetite for value-based fashion too. It’s been almost a year since super-fast e-commerce brand PrettyLittleThing set up base in the UAE, and it is now available in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, while expanding their base throughout the region. The fastest growing retailer in the world has received a warm welcome in MENA, and it’s recently launched its own Arab website. This moment was celebrated by lighting Dubai’s Burj Khalifa up in their trademark pink.
While PrettyLittleThing’s MENA debut overlapped with the onset of the pandemic, you still couldn’t miss their arrival. Known globally for working closely with influencers like Kourtney Kardashian, Hailey Bieber and Ashley Graham, they took over the Emirate of Dubai with their billboards. “Launching during the global pandemic and while we saw nationwide curfews and lockdowns managed to not restrict us too much, and our customers loved our dedicated edits, which were specifically created for the region,” says Sufeena Hussain, PrettyLitttleThing’s head of Middle East and North Africa. “We feel e-commerce is still growing here and to offer a new platform to the UAE and wider Middle East has been very rewarding.” The brand, not surprisingly, has found that modest wear does well, and that party dresses are very strong right now, as this region embraces the new normal.
PrettyLittleThing may have initially been driven by celebrity influencers, but they offer a product that is made for women of all sizes. “From tall women, petite, plus size and modest, the categories from body type to dressing preference is available for everyone,” says Hussain. Last October, it was a first for the brand when PrettyLittleThing featured 21-year-old, London-based influencer Billy Marsal wearing a hijab on their website for their modest collection. A curvy model, she had instant appeal with women both in the MENA region and also the Muslim community in the United Kingdom. Continuing in this ethos, the brand is launching a local edit for Ramadan, and their campaign features local models.
PrettyLittleThing’s success suggests that there is a trend now in the region to mix high-end fashion with value-based fast fashion. “There has definitely been a big shift from people only wearing high-end fashion,” says Hussain. “Even the high-fashion and luxury brands are offering more affordable price points and collections to their shoppers. A lot of our shoppers buy PrettyLittleThing to mix with other brands, from High Street to international luxury labels.” While the core age of their clients is between 16 and 25, PrettyLittleThing recently expanded their product range to include maternity, beach and home, and the result is that older clients are now shopping on their website as well.
With a showroom opening in July in Dubai, PrettyLittleThing looks set to work every more closely with the market here. “It does come down to the content created, influencer collaborations and also small-scale activations that we have done over the past couple of months. We are gaining a loyal following of customers in the Middle East.” The Arab world’s reaction to the launch of PrettyLittleThing is further proof that Gulf-based shoppers are smart with their spends, understanding that both super-high luxury and super-fast fashion can coexist in the same wardrobe.