Rent fees should be in line with the size of the business, according to the fashion designer
Shopping mall operators should offer more space at lower rents to local designers, according to Dubai-based designer Rami Al Ali, whose couture and ready-to-wear creations are sold in department stores such as Bloomingdales and Harvey Nichols across the Gulf region.
Speaking to Arabian Business, Ali said local designers in the GCC do not receive enough support.
“[Local designers] should be given more space in the malls, and should not be charged the same rent as other, bigger businesses. The fees should be in line with the size of the business,” he said.
“There should also be certain government funding for small businesses,” he added.
Space for local designers was added in the UAE through projects such as the Dubai Design District (D3), which was opened in 2015 and was aimed at helping emerging designers showcase Middle Eastern talent to a global audience.
However, while the area added space, it offered little footfall, Ali said. The creation of the Dubai Design and Fashion Council (DDFC) had little impact too.
“D3 was great, but what did it add to the creative community except for space? There’s not much to create footfall in that area anyway, so it’s all an individual effort at the end of the day. At the same time, they created the DDFC, but what came out of it? There was a big hype around it when it was established five years ago, but nothing has happened,” he said.
The district claims to house over 6,000 working individuals occupying 85 percent of the space. Yet it is home to only two retail stores dedicated to local designers, according to its website. The majority of the rest are stacked with international products, with rent averaging $50 per sq ft, according to real estate marketplace Property Finder.
Ali urged the local community to encourage local talent to prevent young designers from leaving to fashion hubs such as Paris.
“When I talk to young designers, they say, ‘The minute I get money, I’m going to Paris,’ because there isn’t enough support in the region. We need to put more trust in our local talent and product,” he said.