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Dubai pushes fashion forward
07:53 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Dubai wants to become a global fashion capital by 2020

Events like Fashion Forward aim to promote the best designers in the UAE

Luxury fashion and design sectors are worth more than $14 billion in the Gulf region, research states

Dubai, UAE CNN  — 

A haunting moon rises over a darkened stage, bouquets of flowers masquerade as elaborate head pieces while a fair-skinned model smiles through a mask of colorful jewelery.

Welcome to Fashion Forward, a semi-annual fashion expo that aims to promote the Middle East’s burgeoning sartorial sector.

Alongside these elaborate and eye-catching runway shows, pop-up shops tout the latest designer accessories and fashionistas host forums on the latest industry developments in busy meeting rooms.

Although the Dubai event only began in April 2013, its founder has grand ambitions for its future and for fashion in the Middle East.

“I would like to truly have our own fashion heroes,” said Fashion Forward founder and CEO, Bong Guerrero.

“Where every mall almost looks the same … you really need to have your own home grown brands,” he added.

Established Arab labels such as Amato are already regular attendees at Fashion Forward as are smaller up-and-coming fashion houses like Dubai’s Zareena line.

The real yard-stick of the Gulf’s fashion success, however, will be whether the creations on display from the likes of Zareena make it off runways and into popular stores around the region.

Those that can make this jump will find a lucrative market waiting for them.

The luxury fashion and design sectors are worth more than $14 billion across the Gulf alone, according to the consultancy Bain and Company – and that accounts for just a tiny portion of the global market.

To tap into that potential, industry experts like the creator of New York Fashion Week, Fern Mallis, say the region has to find a way to set itself apart.