By leveraging the support of d3, Khadija Al Bastaki has cemented Dubai Fashion Week’s position as the sigular most influential showcase representing the region.

It has further bolstered Dubai’s reputation as the epicenter of fashion in the Middle East and the global gateway to the region, bringing clarity to designers and industry stakeholders.

As a tireless advocate for the creative and fashion industry, Khadija continues to leave an indelible mark on Dubai’s cultural and commercial landscape. Through her dedicated efforts and strategic initiatives, she has played a pivotal role in strengthening Dubai’s position as a global fashion capital while championing emerging talents and fostering unity within the industry.

This season was no different – with a curtain-raiser showcase by Carolina Herrera and a showstopping walk at the finale by Naomi Campbell, Khadija, alonside Jacob Abrian (Ceo and founder of the Arab Fashion Council) Khadija has managed to push the envelope a whole lot furhter.

In an in-depth conversation with Emirates Woman, the visionary leader talks about fostering new talent in the region, promoting the existing veterans, all while creating a platform big enough for the luxury heavy-weights to showcase their brands.

Could you tell us more about the vision behind rebranding Arab Fashion Week to Dubai Fashion Week and how it aligns with Dubai Design District’s goals?

Dubai Fashion Week (DFW) evolves from the legacy of Arab Fashion Week, which, over seven years and 21 editions, amplified talented designers, inspiring collections and collaborations across the region. This new chapter – now as Dubai Fashion Week, co-founded by d3 and Arab Fashion Council – focuses on strategically growing that platform by strengthening the reach, network, impact and opportunity available to participating designers and attending distributors.

Dubai is a global and culturally diverse city, and the time was ripe to launch our own dedicated and official fashion week to reflect that status. From its model to its growth strategy, Dubai Fashion Week reflects our vision to sustainably develop the region’s fashion industry in collaboration with the AFC and position Dubai as a world-leading creative capital.

What role has Dubai Design District (D3) played in uniting the fashion industry around Dubai Fashion Week, and how has it strengthened the city’s position as a fashion capital?

Since its inception, d3 has championed the creative industries and economy. Fashion is widely represented in our community, from international brand names like Burberry and Hugo Boss to regional pioneers like Lili Blanc and Michael Cinco (both of whom are showcasing at DFW!) So, we are heavily invested in ensuring sustainable business growth and partnerships that bolster the fashion sector.

With this new platform, we’re playing a more central role with the Arab Fashion Council, leveraging our vast network of government, public and private partners to raise the profile of local and regional designers globally and provide international talent with a gateway to regional markets and consumers. Facilitating strategic and long-term partnerships and continuing DFW’s expansion into a Dubai-wide experience are all part of d3’s effort to reinforce Dubai as a global fashion capital.

In what ways do you think Dubai Fashion Week contributes to the global fashion calendar, and what can we expect from the upcoming edition in terms of showcasing diverse and innovative talent?

Consumers worldwide want to see greater diversity in fashion, from cultural influences and innovative cuts to the public figures who represent the industry. In this, Dubai Fashion Week excels. Our world-spanning roster of participating designers represents Dubai’s multiculturalism, turning DFW into a celebration of globe-spanning different design traditions, innovation and creativity that cannot be beaten. We are a platform for local and regional talent – and there is such a wealth of that across our region – and also a place for international brands to connect with regional audiences.

We continually push the boundaries of the industry, from introducing the region’s first curvy model to building innovative, long-term partnerships and experiences that make each edition memorable and impactful. Fashion enthusiasts and buyers can expect that and more in this edition, where sustainability will also be a central conversation for many of our designers.

Can you share some insights into the strategic cultural and commercial initiatives that D3 has launched to support brands and talent in the creative economy, especially within the context of Dubai Fashion Week?

Our parent company, TECOM Group, founded d3 as a haven for creative businesses and talent to inspire, co-create and innovate. We aim to foster a community where brands and creatives can grow, tap into global markets and boost economic growth in line with the Dubai Economic Agenda ‘D33’.

Dubai Fashion Week reflects our commitment to the fashion sector’s growth, providing participants with global exposure and facilitating new economic opportunities and partnerships. In collaboration with AFC, we work closely with designers to promote them across regional and global media platforms. DFW enables designers to engage with international peers, buyers and consumers within our ecosystem over exclusive events, panels, and initiatives like the inaugural Mega Showroom.

To enable sustainable, long-term fashion industry development, we have created a model where creatives can focus less on production and logistics and more on their creative output. DFW is tailored to its participants, making it such an attractive showcase for high-quality designers.

Dubai has been drawing diverse and innovative talent in the fashion industry. How does Dubai Fashion Week reflect this trend, and how does it contribute to the city’s creative investment goals?

The activity we’re seeing in our fashion sector is extraordinary. Dubai is certainly a place to be if you’re in fashion, especially considering how closely associated the Emirate is with shopping and luxury. What’s more, the Emirate’s multicultural social fabric contributes enormously to fostering and sustaining a dynamic, global and attractive creative landscape. The latest edition of DFW reflects this with the participation of more than 25 designers from 12 countries, including now globally renowned brands like Carolina Herrera and Valentin Yudashkin. Pioneers such as Michael Cinco and The Giving Movement, who are shaping the regional fashion industry, are returning, while emerging creatives and fashion students will give us a taste of what’s next for the industry. By celebrating the spectrum of talent, we’re demonstrating to international buyers, brands and investors alike that Dubai is on par with global fashion capitals Paris, London, New York and Milan.

What opportunities does Dubai Fashion Week create for emerging designers and grassroots talent, and how is it supporting them in their creative journeys?

Dubai Fashion Week is a platform to empower creatives at all stages of their careers, whether you’re a household name like Carolina Herrera or a designer getting their foot in the door. The Mega Showroom, which launches this edition, will provide emerging and homegrown creatives not presenting on the runway an avenue to engage and showcase their craftsmanship to regional and international buyers, shoppers and media. This is a really exciting new initiative.

We also support fresh talent by dedicating multiple slots on the calendar to young designers. The Graduate Fashion Show during Graduate Fashion Week will highlight innovative presentations by graduate students from over 30 universities worldwide. FAD Institute, based in d3, will also showcase student designs and a runway show by one of the prestigious Italian fashion school Polimoda’s star students will also be an exciting moment.

Networking events and insightful panel discussions by DFW sponsor Meta will also provide a valuable channel for emerging and grassroots talent to engage established peers. In March, we even held dedicated buyers’ panels to help young designers understand what the big international retailers are looking for when selecting collections for their boutiques.

Could you highlight any specific collaborations or partnerships that will be featured during the upcoming Dubai Fashion Week, which demonstrate the event’s commitment to empowering designers?

In collaboration with AFC, we have secured valuable, impact-driven partnerships to empower participating designers. We continue our partnership with La Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM) – the body behind Paris Fashion Week – to build a bridge for French designers to present in the region. It has been one of the platform’s most longstanding and fruitful partnerships and a symbol of what Dubai Fashion Week stands for.

DFW’s partnerships with Polimoda and FAD Institute provide fresh graduates and students a global platform to showcase, giving them an extraordinary head start in their careers. We are also honoured to have the support of major international brands like META, Waldorf Astoria, Dyson, Air France, Microsoft, Nothing, Kiki Milano, and Schwarzkopf Professional in helping raise the bar for this latest DFW. Long-term partnerships are a key focus for us with Dubai Fashion Week.

How do you see Dubai’s role in shaping the future of the fashion industry, and what role does Dubai Fashion Week play in this broader vision?

Dubai is the region’s de facto fashion and retail capital. As a world-leading tourism and business hub, Dubai has attracted global fashion houses and regional labels to tap into consumers with high spending power and benefit from the Emirate’s world-class infrastructure, progressive legislation and location. Not only do we, as a global creative hub, provide such brands with a space to do and grow their businesses, but d3 also ensures young creatives and entrepreneurs have access to flexible and enabling business solutions to launch and expand their brands. With such a vast and brilliant community, Dubai can play an instrumental role in the next chapter of the global fashion industry. Whether it’s integrating and promoting multicultural or indigenous design traditions, fashion and technical skills or creating innovative brands that challenge the status quo, DFW envisions a thriving and sustainable fashion industry that spans the region and resonates globally. Our regional fashion scene has so much to offer internationally. There is so much talent in this region and so much opportunity. We look forward to playing an even bigger role in the global fashion narrative.


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Can you share some insights into the connection between Dubai Fashion Week and the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy and Dubai Economic Agenda D33, and how they intersect?

Dubai Design District has been powering the creative economy since well before the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy was officially launched. All our efforts, including DFW, are to promote Dubai as a definitive hub for the culture and creative industries. While global Fashion Weeks are an exciting period for consumers and fashion enthusiasts, their core function is to bring together the fashion industry and forge new business opportunities. DFW is part of that overarching effort to create long-term partnerships and ensure local, regional and international designers have access to global platforms that extend brand awareness and connect them to international buyers and distributors. By facilitating those relationships, we are not only creating new economic opportunities and fuelling the creative economy but signalling that Dubai is the place to be for fashion – whether you’re making it, buying it, or selling it. We hope to see d3 and Dubai’s creative community grow even more with new talent and investment. We will continue to incubate and mentor emerging designers for a sustainable talent pool, and contribute to Dubai’s economic growth in line with Dubai Economic Agenda ‘D33’.

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Images: Supplied & Featue Image: Instagram: @khadijai @dubaifashionweek and @arabfashioncouncil