Revamped Dubai Fashion Week promises change – lots of it
Last week, in the middle of juggling the responsibilities of being a media partner for Who’s Next at Madinat Jumeirah and paying a quick visit to Fashion Times Dubai at Meydan to figure out what’s what, we managed to find the time to speak with the new organisers of Dubai Fashion Week.
It was just days ahead of the event’s opening (which was yesterday), and we were keen on finding out how Capital Marketing was holding up with the stresses of salvaging what had almost(?) become a complete joke in Dubai’s fashion industry, and how things are going to be different the eighth time around. You know the things for which the old DFW was criticised – lack of buyers, lack of credibility, a kind of mismanagement so profound the organisers didn’t know what hit them – and the list goes on.
In an interview with La Moda Dubai, Manoj Bhojwani, Chairman of Capital Marketing, speaks of confidence in the new professional team that now handles Dubai Fashion Week, promises change that will enhance the show and the local fashion industry as whole, and sets the target on how the company plans to move forward with its newest acquisition.
What has changed since the takeover of Dubai Fashion Week?
A lot. To start with, we’ve got a professional team to take care of Fashion Week now. We have introduced a lot of new aspects.
I would say everything is now going to fall back into place with basics and the technicals being correct which are the foundation of any fashion week. Also, you will see that the setup is much more enhanced and professional compared to the earlier seasons.
The show has undergone a lot of criticism, especially during the last season. Why did you take it on?
It was purely a business decision. I saw the value in it and decided to buy it over. I always thought this event was not being handled properly. The opportunity arose and I took advantage.
You mentioned a professional team earlier. Can you tell us more about the team behind DFW?
We have Marc Robinson as the show director now, who is very professional and takes his job seriously. Our event director, Rohit Sabikhi, has a background of six years working on Lakme Fashion Week in India. I’m very confident and comfortable with them running the show.
How about the advisory board, have there been any changes?
We have a few new advisory board members. There’s Rohini Gehani, who owns a boutique here called Samsaara. Aiisha Ramadan has also come on board and has been very helpful with the design aspect of the whole show. Aiisha was instrumental in the emerging talents segment of Dubai Fashion Week.
For this season what are you doing to showcase emerging talent?
We have shortlisted six emerging talents and they are going to show on Tuesday, October 26 at 2pm. There’s been a lot of emphasis on the proper evaluation of the collections as Aiisha took the responsibility to shortlist the entire emerging talent.
I’ve seen the collections and I’m most impressed with the designers’ work. I’m sure at least two of them will come out in flying colours.
The show has been criticised before about the lack of buyers and international media. What are you doing to address this?
On the media side, our PR company has taken care of it. We’re not flying anyone in but we are having correspondents of international media outfits attend the show. Papers such as the International Herald, the Sunday Times, the New York Times – they have their stringers based in this region. We’re also inviting international fashion bloggers from within the region. And regarding the buyers, we are welcoming over 300 buyers from around the world this week to watch our shows.
Designs by Dar Sara at Dubai Fashion Week S/S 2011
How do you intend to deal with the aftermath of the old Dubai Fashion Week? All the criticism has kind of damaged the name of the property.
I have to say that I don’t see anything negative today. Yes, prior to our takeover, there definitely was mismanagement of the event, but we have corrected a lot of things which were not being done properly. From that angle, we are very confident we’ll deliver a good show this time.
There’s Who’s Next and Fashion Times Dubai. How do you plan to remain relevant with all these new exhibitions here?
It’s very simple – we keep our basics and our technical aspects right and we build on them. And it’s always good to have a healthy competition. It will only raise the bar and enhance the industry. It will keep challenging us to perform better. This market needs the competition.
We are trying to do all the work to be recognised by the big four (New York, London, Paris, Milan) which will happen in due course. It’s not something that will happen overnight; it will take at least five or six seasons before we are even recognised. The objective is to be one of the biggest players in the region, which has 350 million people, with not one single serious fashion week. Compared to Europe, with 300 million people they have three serious fashion weeks.
We’ve heard there’s been an increase in the fees for designers to participate in the shows. Is this true?
Yes. Once you increase the quality, there has to be an increase in cost. There are different tariffs depending on the timing of the shows. For example, the tariff for a 2pm show is $7,000 while for a 9:30pm show, we charge $16,500. The grand finale is completely different, which is a sponsorship of the event.
All I have to say is whatever we’re charging, we’re giving serious value against it, with the kind of marketing and outdoor advertising that we have done for each designer. We have taken billboards specifically for each designer in Jumeirah and two big ones on Sheikh Zayed Road which cost a lot of money. Whatever money is collected is reinvested into the brand to give the designers the right kind of mileage and exposure.
The local designers here are, today, not so big designers, but we are offering a platform here giving them all they would need to become recognised in the international market.
Why did you move the exhibition to the Atlantis?
It is, again, an image building exercise. We increased the fees not to make money, but to give the right kind of quality to the event. We all know that the Atlantis is one of the most reputed hotels in the world. To give the right kind of image to the brand, we thought it would be appropriate to stage the shows at the Atlantis.
What kind of daily traffic do you expect for Dubai Fashion Week?
We’re expecting anywhere between 2,500 and 3,000 people every day.
Finally, what do you have to say to all the critics of Dubai Fashion Week?
We will prevail. We will definitely do our best to deliver.