In the words of Jordan Fashion Week’s (JFW) founder, Shirene Rifai, “JFW is a non-profit organization that aims to give upcoming Jordanian designers the opportunity to have their creations recognized internationally.” She tells us that she created JFW to “both encourage Jordanian designers and to highlight their talents,” as she believes that a lack of exposure has prevented Jordanian designers from being placed on the ‘fashion ladder.’
But is Jordan truly ready to be placed on the fashion ladder? Saif Hidayah took a look at the good and the bad of JFW to find out.
The good: A beautifully orchestrated theatrical production
The Jordan Fashion Week runway was exquisitely set, the visuals were perfectly executed and the designers showcased some of their best work. Local, regional and international media personalities and outlets gathered at the Kempinski Hotel in Amman to promote the two day fashion event and support Jordanian talent.
According to Rifai, JFW “exceeded the country’s expectations as the exposure received was worldwide.” She went on to state that it was a celebration for Jordan because they launched “a successful Fashion Week!”
The good: Partnership opportunities
JFW’s partnership with brands such as Lindt, Ayla Oasis and Aquafina has given Jordanian talent new lasting opportunities. By partnering with the Swiss chocolatier, Lindt, for an exclusive runway titled the ‘Lindt Edition Fashion Show,’ Rifai says various talented Jordanian designers were able to showcase their work despite being on a tight budget. Zeina Al Dabbas, an up and coming Jordanian designer, for example, was given the opportunity to have her design “featured on the sleeve of one of Lindt’s chocolate packaging at all points of sale in Jordan.”
The bad: Misused exposure
While JFW gave a lot of designers the exposure they need to advance their careers, many didn’t know how to deal with such exposure. A large number of the showcasing designers do not have a dedicated person in charge of their marketing and/or PR. According to leading Fashion PR agencies in London, if ‘exposure’ is not effectively utilised, it can be a waste of a brand’s time, money and resources.
Jordanian designer Ayesha Dabbas told us, “I was very excited to be approached by buyers or get more media exposure, but, unfortunately this didn’t happen, as most of the attention was given to well-known names.” International and regional media outlets that came to cover the two day fashion event focused on established Jordanian designers with celebrity following, such as Laith Malouf, or internationally renowned red carpet designers, such as the Italian designer Sylvio Giardina. Upcoming Jordanian talent? Not so much.
The bad: ‘No buyers or no interest?’
The JFW Organization persuaded designers to join Jordan Fashion Week by luring them in with the promise of fashion buyers. Designers were told that several international and regional buyers would be attending the shows and showrooms and may place orders. For many Jordanian designers, this was a compelling draw. However, only two regional buyers were invited to look at over 30+ showcasing designers, an overwhelming and to an extent, ineffective task.
One of the showroom designers, who presented his latest jewelry collection in one of the paid-for booths, explains that while the experience of JFW was exciting, participating in other fashion events in Jordan has proven to be more beneficial to his brand. “It was not as I expected or would have hoped for,” he adds.
What needs to change?
Getting to a place where we are neck and neck with Western fashion industry ideals does not happen overnight. While Rifai and her organization should be acknowledged for establishing a new platform for Jordanian designers, focus should be placed on creating a model that actually helps Jordanian talent, rather than one that just incubates designers for a two day event for exposure and not much else.
Rifai and her team need to shift their focus from helping Jordanian designers create what they’re best known for, their clothes, to helping them build a sustainable model that translates into real life buys, returns, monetisation and an understanding of the importance of fashion marketing and PR. Fact: a fashion brand is more than a great design.
This model would ensure that Jordanian designers are not only exposed to the world, but would also ensure that designers are able to utilize such exposure to successfully cross into the next phase of their fashion career.
Is Jordan truly ready to be placed on the fashion ladder? You decide.
Featured Image Credits: Thomas Concordia