Take the glamour out of the fashion designer's dreamy world and what is left is a business thirsty for investors. And despite 21 years in the GCC, Ali's fortunes fare similarly. He hasn't managed to secure a single physical retail spot beyond the Arab world.
“There are too many designers, too many products and not enough funding,” he says.
“People see the façade: the fashion shows, models, fashion weeks, beautiful features, but they don’t know what’s happening. It’s not the fashion weeks that will keep the industry alive; it’s the support from banks and investors. That’s the biggest issue facing designers in the region.”
Analysts predict that the MENA luxury goods market will be worth over $12bn by 2021, but local designers seldom get a piece of the profit pie. Global brands, on the other hand, continue to lure in investors and customers who are too hesitant to take a risk on local products.
“Why would people pay $500 for a local product if they can pay $600 for an international brand?” Ali says rhetorically.
Banks are particularly cautious due to the novelty nature of the regional fashion industry and its role as an importer of products.
(Source: Arabianbusiness.com YouTube channel)