September’s – ‘The Power Issue’ – Download Now

For anyone launching a brand, support from inside the industry is a vital key to success. Fashion editor and philanthropist Tania Fares co-founded Fashion Trust Arabia with exactly this in mind, to support young designers from the MENA region.

FTA offers support across five categories: eveningwear, ready-to-wear, accessories, jewellery and debut talent. Support from FTA comes in many influential forms including financial, mentorship and exposure. We discussed the incredibly powerful work that FTA has achieved in just two years since its launch with Beirut-based Fares.

Since Fashion Trust Arabia launched in 2018, how have things evolved?

There have been many developments since the initial launch. The first year, for example, we had about 275 applicants, and then 600 the fol- lowing year. And we’ve just launched the application process for the 2021 FTA prize, with a submission deadline scheduled for the end of November 2020.

Our first-edition winners from 2019 are now selling their designs on Matches- Most recently, FTA partnered with Inexmoda and ProColombia to create Unique Edition, bridging the fashion and creative worlds of Latin America with the Arab region, by providing young designers with international exposure to new markets, and the possibility to learn from each other.

What does Fashion Trust Arabia aim to do for brands in the MENA region?

We aim to give financial support, mentoring, guidance and exposure for fashion brands from the MENA region. We help young designers through FTA’s network. For example, we partnered with Maison de Mode, who mentored FTA prizewinners. We also exposed them to journalists, as well as judges and an advisory board made up of the likes of Pierpaolo Piccioli, Olivier Rousteing, Elie Saab and Elizabeth Saltzman, who gave valuable advice and guidance to FTA prizewinner.

Fashion Trust Arabia Nafsika Skourti

Above: FTA 2020 Ready-To-Wear Finalist – Jordanian Fashion Brand Nafsiksa Skourti.

In your opinion, how does this region differ to other fashion markets across the globe?

The region doesn’t mass produce, so much of the output is handmade, artisanal and sustainable. And we also have very important eveningwear designers based in the region, such as Elie Saab, Rami Al Ali, Ashi, Zuhair Murad and Rabih Kayrouz.

How has this year’s pandemic affected the work of FTA?

In 2020, we were unable to have our annual ceremony, which was scheduled for March, due to COVID-19. We ended up having the ceremony virtually and still handed out the five prizes.

Can you talk us through your career in fashion?

I co-founded fashion brand Lulu & Co with Lulu Kennedy. We were creating collaborations with artists before anybody else did. I then founded the British Fashion Council Fashion Trust and became a contributing editor for British Vogue in 2011.

You’re not just the co-chair and co-founder of Fashion Trust Arabia, you also have launched the Fashion Trust in other regions including the UK. Are there any other regions the Fashion Trust reaches?

Yes. We have the InStyle Fashion Trust in the United States, and this year we’re inviting Colombia to be part of FTA. What was it like partnering with a major e-commerce site like Matches Fashion for FTA? We are grateful for their invaluable support. FTA prizewinners are selling their products on, allowing them to reach a global market. In addition, it’s been extremely beneficial for the designers to be mentored by a respected retail institution like

What advice do you wish you had received on the beginning of your journey to success?

Always trust your instincts.

You work incredibly hard, where do you get your motivation from?

Seeing designers from the MENA region grow, flourish, develop their brands, achieve success and be recognized on a global level is extremely motivating.

Looking back over your career, can you tell us about three major hurdles you’ve had to overcome?

Managing family and career; learn- ing how to raise funds; and not being able to have one home, but rather three homes on three different continents.

What are your future plans for Fashion Trust Arabia?

In an ambitious effort to widen its scope, FTA is expanding its online presence by restyling its current website – fashion-

This is ‘The Power Issue’ – what does power mean to you?

The ability to effect meaningful change while remaining humble.

September’s – ‘The Power Issue’ – Download Now

– For more on luxury lifestyle, news, fashion and beauty follow Emirates Woman on Facebook and Instagram

Images: Supplied