Retail First Riyadh Fashion Week aims for global impact By Andy Sambidge September 21, 2023 Saudi Fashion Commission A design by Nour Al Dhahri: Riyadh Fashion Week hopes to make an impression on the global fashion community 30 Saudi brands being showcased Fashion sales to reach $32bn by 2025 Industry employs 230,000 people The inaugural Riyadh Fashion Week will take place in the Saudi capital next month with a line-up of 30 of the kingdom’s brands taking over the runway. Celebrities, VIPs, buyers and key industry figures from the global fashion community are expected in Riyadh to celebrate Saudi’s rapidly emerging fashion scene. The inaugural event will also have a showroom giving local and international buyers deeper insight into the depth and breadth of Saudi’s designers and established brands with a wide range of styles and pieces. Saudi Arabia’s bid to be the next global fashion powerhouse ‘Preloved’ retail is a vital step on the Gulf’s path to sustainability ‘Paris Intervention’ as Saudi designers hit the catwalks The event is being held as fashion sales in Saudi are expected to surge 48 percent between 2021 and 2025 to $32 billion, representing an annual growth rate of 13 percent. This is according to a new report, ‘State of Fashion in the Kingdom,’ from the Saudi Fashion Commission. Growth is expected to be fuelled by the kingdom’s economic expansion and growing population, with apparel, accessories, footwear and luxury goods poised for significant gains. Saudi Fashion CommissionA design by Mona Al Shebil In 2021, Saudi’s fashion industry reportedly accounted for spending of $7.3 billion on imported clothes, underscoring the potential economic impact of fostering domestic fashion capabilities, the report added. Hosted by the Commission, the October 20-23 catwalk event – which will also be livestreamed – aims to support the development of the fashion industry at both domestic and international levels. Commission CEO Burak Çakmak said: “For the first time ever, we are welcoming the global fashion community to the epicentre of Saudi fashion. “The event will showcase the best of our creative talent, allowing yet another opportunity for our brands to connect with the world.” Riyadh Fashion Week will launch with a gala dinner, welcoming more than 250 leaders from the international fashion community. The event was first announced during the Commission’s participation at Paris Men’s Fashion Week and Couture Week, where designers showcased collections from the Saudi 100 Brands programme, a mentorship initiative led by the Commission. Earlier this year, Cakmak told AGBI that it’s only a matter of time before Saudi Arabia produces a global fashion powerhouse brand to rival Louis Vuitton and Chanel. “I have no doubt about that, the sky is the limit,” he said as designers from the country continue to make their mark internationally. Saudi Fashion CommissionA design by Abadia “There are Saudi designers stocked at Harrods [in London], dressing big name celebrities and making waves in the industry. The kingdom is now very much part of the global fashion scene,” he added. The local fashion industry is estimated to employ 230,000 people, or 1.8 percent of the domestic workforce, and to have contributed $12.5 billion to the economy in 2022 – equivalent to 1.4 percent of GDP. The Saudi Fashion Commission, created in February 2020, is one of 11 projects launched by the Ministry of Culture to manage the cultural sector as part of Vision 2030. It has partnerships with international educational organisations and offers full scholarships to Saudi students at some of the world’s leading design schools.