An Aussie boost for Dubai Fashion Week

The Life: Simon Lock, the chief executive of a communications and events company, is also the creative director for Dubai Fashion Week. He discusses how the show going forward could boost the Middle East's fashion industry.

Dubai Fashion Week will showcase the strength of Emirati designers, says Simon Lock, the chief of The Lock Group. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
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Simon Lock founded Mercedes Australian Fashion Week and has developed major style events throughout his career. The chairman and chief executive of The Lock Group, a marketing communications and events company, is also creative director for Dubai Fashion Week. He discusses his first show in the Emirates, which was held in October, as well as his vision for the future.

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What benefits are there to the fashion industry by expanding Dubai Fashion Week?

If we can attract more buyers to the event from Dubai, the Middle East and internationally, it can be an important part of the industry's supply chain. In essence, a fashion week is a very glamorous trade show. The outcome is more orders, and that means more business growth and employing more people.

How do you draw in more buyers?

One of the strategies is positioning the show in the Middle East. It'll be based on the strength of Emirati designers; to that we'll be adding the best ready-to-wear designers around the region. We'll be working with designers in Beirut, Doha, Yemen, Saudi.

Is Dubai Fashion Week in October the first time you will pitch to the region beyond the Emirates?

Pretty much. It really wasn't promoted as an integral part of the international circuit. In the past it's been in the hands of people who have been event producers and who have not really understood the structure of the fashion industry and how it operates. Hopefully, myself and my team can give more focus.

Why are you looking beyond Dubai and the UAE?

We're using the base of our designers from Dubai and UAE, and that's always going to reflect a good percentage of the event - probably 50 per cent, if not more. I think to have a fashion week that is going to be successful it needs to have not just quality but also quantity. From a buyer's perspective, to spend five days at a trade show, they need to see 50 to 70 killer collections. To put that in perspective, in New York's fashion week, there are about 200 collections shown, 250 in Sydney and 350 in Paris. So you need to have a momentum of numbers to make the event valuable for a buyer to attend.

How many collections are you aiming for at the next show?

Upwards of 70 or so in total.

How has the show's corporate sponsorship programme performed in the past?

I'd say it was unsuccessful. The event had a reputation of not being able to deliver a quality product, nor was it getting substantial media coverage. Obviously, there is a raft of international brands that like to associate themselves with international fashion weeks: MasterCard, Samsung, Audi, Nokia. In the past, sponsors have sat on the sideline … but we've been able to show them we have turned the event around. We generated about Dh20 million [US$5.4m] worth of media coverage on the event, and sponsors see that as valuable.

* Neil Parmar

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