Shoe designer calls for national fashion council

A top shoe designer, Sultan al Darmaki, believes the country's fashion industry would benefit from greater support from the government.

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A top shoe designer has called for more investment in the country's fashion industry.

The Emirati designer Sultan Al Darmaki said the UAE should have its own fashion council to promote young talent as the country seeks to diversify its economy.

"We have a big pool of talent, but no support from the Government," said Mr Al Darmaki, who recently launched his "Darmaki" women's shoes line in London to capitalise on the city's presence in the global design industry.

The British Fashion Council could be a template for a similar entity in the UAE, he said. Fashion directly contributes £21 billion (Dh121.22bn) to the UK economy, according to the council.

While the UAE has become a key market for top global fashion brands, local designers struggle to gain recognition in an industry still governed by international names such as Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton and Chanel.

"We need to have an entity equivalent to the British Fashion Council that promotes young designers internationally," Mr Al Darmaki said. "At present, many find it easier to establish their brands in one of the big-four cities - London, Milan, Paris and New York - because the know-how and structure is already there. These designers could bring enormous export-import value for the economy in the future."

The British Fashion Council promotes designers in the global market. It is responsible for bringing international buyers to London Fashion Week to promote the country's fashion industry.

Abu Dhabi aims to diversify the economy to drive Emiratisation in sectors such as manufacturing, tourism, financial services and technology, but has not addressed industries such as design.

"The interest of the young generations has changed," Mr Al Darmaki said.

"There will still be UAE nationals who will fill the jobs in the oil, industrial, [and other] sectors, but there will also be others who want to venture into fashion."

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