New York, London, Paris and Milan are all cities known around the world as leaders in fashion. Now thanks to an exciting new initiative called “Fashion 4 Development Middle East,” designers in cities such as Riyadh, Jeddah, Beirut, Cairo or Amman and others in the Arab world are getting their moment to shine.

In a crowded showroom on New York’s famed Fifth Avenue, some of the most well known fashion buyers and writers in the world gathered for the launch “Fashion 4 Development Middle East,” which will help showcase emerging designers across the MENA region by combing fashion with the new mantra of “Giving Back is the New Luxury.” Buyers from some of the most famous stores in the world including Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales, as well as writers from W Magazine and Glamour came to look at the incredible pieces assembled for the launch.

They were there for Fashion Group International’s 2014 Spring-Summer trend presentation event, and that’s where the collections and handiwork of seven emerging Middle East designers were shown. The handpicked designers were Souad Jarrar and Sandra Mansour of Lebanon, Laila Neamatalla of Egypt, Kaya and Lalya Moussa of Jeddah, Zein Housana of Jordan and Massouma Al Nowais of the United Arab Emirates – seven up-and-coming designers from five countries under the umbrella of F4D Middle East.

Ken Downing the head buyer for Neiman Marcus who is planning a trip to Saudi Arabia and other parts of Arab world for Fashion 4 Development Middle East, marveled at the workman ship and intricate details on the pieces which were provided by designers. F4D Middle East will ultimately aim to assist designers in 23 Middle Eastern countries by creating opportunity for global exposure, developing a sustainable and ethical structure for fashion production and product distribution, and supporting the employment of poor women in the region. Beginning in 2014, F4D will conduct an extensive search to identify untapped local talent that could benefit from the organization’s initiatives. Following a regional competition in each of the 23 nations, F4D’s international advisory council will be tasked with selecting
one designer from each nation to show their collection during the Middle East’s first F4D fashion week in New York City in September 2014.
In addition, F4D will aid undiscovered designers of the Middle East by facilitating a series of capsule collection collaborations with global luxury fashion brands. Through these partnerships with top designers already competing in the marketplace, local artisans will be taught to elevate the traditional craftsmanship that is characteristic of their culture.

One huge supporter of F4D is Donna Karan who recently told the Huffington Post, “We’re having conversations about the celebration and the creativity of the cultures of the world — and to bring the awareness to the consumer. We call it conscience consumerism, we call it a soulful economy. But we want to be able to protect, care and celebrate the wisdom that comes from our cultures from all around the world.” That’s what makes this such a great opportunity to promote the Middle East, emerging designers and other aspects which fall under the Fashion 4 Development umbrella.

Donna Karan is one of the most famous designers in the world, and also a philanthropist. That is also why she’s a supporter of Fashion 4 Development, as profits from sales of the fashion pieces will serve to benefit women in need. As these new fashion producers continue to gain traction and success in the global marketplace, they will serve to bolster economic development and equal opportunity employment
of people in their region.

F4D Middle East will be the first in a series of international satellites piloted by Fashion 4 Development. With the support of leading names in both fashion and diplomacy including Vogue Italia Editor-in-Chief & F4D Goodwill Ambassador Franca Sozzani, designers like Reem Acra and Donna Karan, First Lady of the United Nations Madame Ban Soon-Taek, and global fashion brands Bottega Veneta, Marni, Cavalli, Missoni, Etro, Versace, Moschino and Tod’s, Fashion 4 Development continues to generate visibility for creative individuals and implement strategies for sustainable economic growth all over the world. And now the Middle East is leading the way with an upcoming Vogue Italia devoting it’s cover and one whole issue to designs from this region.

Fashion 4 Development is a private sector, global organization that supports the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and the UN’s “Every Woman, Every Child” Initiative, spearheaded by the Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon. The mission is to harness the power of the fashion and beauty industries to implement creative strategies for sustainable economic growth, preservation of culture, wellness and independence of communities worldwide.

Its guiding principles are the 4E’s: Educate, Empower, Enhance and Enrich. That’s why Fashion 4 Development Middle East is one to watch. There are great things ahead.