RIYADH: Jacob Abrian, 26-year-old model, founder and CEO of the Arab Fashion Council (AFC), which organizes Arab Fashion Week (AFW), is optimistic about the future of the Arab fashion industry, particularly in Saudi Arabia.
“There are many Saudi talents,” Abrian told Arab News on the eve of the AFW 2018 in Riyadh. “But they were hidden or exclusive and now we will spread them to the world.”
Abrian has mixed Lebanese-Italian heritage. Both countries have had a major impact on the fashion industry, and Abrian knows that talent alone will not be enough to sustain a successful fashion scene in the GCC.
“I wanted to bring that infrastructure that Italy has in the fashion world to our region,” he explained. “I’m not focusing so much on Arab Fashion Week itself, rather we’re working on that to promote and focus on the infrastructure.
“With the right education and platform anything can happen,” he continued, adding that the AFC plans to set up a fashion university in the Kingdom. “In regard to local designers, our main role is to scout and support them, give them a platform to grow. Currently, local designers just have potential; everything starts from education and work experience. It should all be connecting together and this is the course we want to bring to Saudi.”
Abrian has seen enough to be sure that there is a bright future for young Arab designers. “Three years ago we launched a scholarship for the Arab world,” he said. “A Saudi student won that competition. He was so passionate and I felt that, with the right tools, that student could have a bright future. Two years later, he sent us his portfolio and we were amazed. He’s now a fashion editor at one of the most important magazines in the world.”
Success stories like that motivate Abrian to keep pushing Arab fashion forward, and Arab Fashion Week is the biggest milestone so far in that journey.
“It’s a sign that Saudi is changing,” he said of the event. “I’m proud to say that Saudi is going to surprise everyone around the world in a top-notch manner.
“This is a great start,” he continued. “It’s exciting. We’re building history.”