As part of Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council’s ongoing initiatives to increase the international reach of the United Arab Emirates’ designers and artisans, the Sharjah-based council is heading to London to launch a unique pop-up retail space featuring the work of ten designers based in the UAE in one of Mayfair’s most luxurious department stores, Fenwick of Bond Street.
Under the generous patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qassimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, and Royal Patron of Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, the pop-up store will take place over July and August, showcasing fashion, jewellery, porcelain tableware, and gift collections by the participating designers.
This partnership between Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council and Fenwick of Bond Street not only offers the opportunity to celebrate the immeasurable talent on offer within the United Arab Emirates, but also creates an internationally recognised presence and sustainable future for those practicing both modern and traditional crafts.
Five of the ten designers taking part in this curated space are from the Azyame Fashion Entrepreneurs Programme, one of the council’s flagship projects that offers one-to-one support for the next generation of UAE designers through a mix of workshops and business mentoring opportunities for one year, delivered in partnership with the London College of Fashion.
In addition, the Azyame programme’s specialist team of fashion experts and industry professionals also offered mentoring support to all ten designers headed to Fenwick of Bond Street, to prepare them for this opportunity as part of the council’s ongoing commitment to develop and nurture both the creative and entrepreneurial skills of the region.
Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside Fenwick of Bond Street, a globally renowned department store, known for its elite brands and equally discerning clientele. It is an ideal fit for Irthi designers who are expanding their labels and presenting new opportunities to a target audience who will be able see the quality of their work. And for Fenwick, this is also in line with its history of promoting the latest quality brands.”
“This is a window of opportunity for our designers to establish a name for themselves on a wider scale and showcase their concepts, styles and ideas in one of the most important international markets,” BinKaram added.
Branding and product placement in all of the store’s window displays for a full month will be a massive boost to raising awareness of the individual designers and the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, creating a great amount of exposure and inevitable interest from industry professionals and passing shoppers alike.
Leo Fenwick from Fenwick of Bond Street, said: “Fenwick is known for its distinctiveness and innovation, and proud to partner with Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council; sharing its passion to expand the presence of local talent beyond the Middle East, as part of Fenwick’s ongoing commitment to promoting and nurturing the best of emerging international design.”
Proceeds from the sales will go back to support the participating designers, and in keeping with the programme of sustainability and nurturing traditional Emirati crafts, a percentage will be invested in ensuring the professional and social empowerment of women practicing the crafts in the United Arab Emirates and the wider Middle East and North Africa, South East, and Central Asia regions.
Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council is a champion of ethical, sustainable and innovative practices within the crafts sector and is developing skills to meet future requirements and highlighting potential opportunities.
Participating designers at the pop-up store include: Alia Bin Omair, Emirati jewellery artist inspired by heritage and raw materials of the Middle East; ‘Align’, a contemporary womenswear brand created by Emirati designers Sara Mahmood and Asma Mustafa; Faissal El-Malak, womenswear designer that incorporates fabrics skillfully handwoven by artisans from the MENA region; Amal Haliq, Emirati jewellery designer adding her own take on fairytales and heritage crafts; Madiyah Al Sharqi, Emirati womenswear label incorporating luxurious fabrics with a contemporary silhouette designed by the label’s Royal namesake; and Zayan the Label, womenswear label by Zayan Ghandour, that effortlessly combines an eclectic mix of embellishments with a luxe, contemporary ready-to-wear silhouette.
Designers also include: IAMMAI, Emirati womenswear label, established by Mai Al Budoor, whose collection draws reference from palm trees found in the UAE; Neon Edge, womenswear label created by Mona Fares known for their signature use of colour and playful silhouettes; Twisted Roots, Emirati travel wear brand, founded by Latifa Al Gurg, who journeys from country to country for inspiration; and Designed by Hind, fine porcelain collections influenced by Emirati adornments and traditional crafts created by Sheikha Hind Majid Al Qassimi.