Dubai – MENA Herald: Fashion Forward Dubai (FFWD), the progressive regional fashion platform, today announces EPIC, an empowerment program that tackles business development challenges faced by regional designers through a series of initiatives.

In collaboration with Samsung Electronics MENA, endorsed by the Dubai Design and Fashion Council (DDFC) and supported by Dubai Design District (d3), EPIC will deliver a calendar of regional and international events, workshops, sponsorship opportunities, influencer and scholarship programs. Allhave been made possible through synergetic collaboration with industry partners who strive to achieve similarobjectives.

Founded upon FFWD’s aim to strengthen the regional ecosystem of emerging fashion talent,and supported by Samsung’s increasing commitment to delivering technologies that empowerthe fashion industry, EPIC aims to provide Fashion Forward designers and d3 creative partners, with an opportunity to cultivate their success throughout the year, in line with Dubai’s national mandate to become a hub of creativity for the region.

Until December 2016, EPIC will focus on five key initiativeswith the aim of creating business and higher education opportunities, fostering partnerships, maximizing exposure and offering practical tools to participating designers. As a dedicated partner to EPIC, Samsung will be integrating its technologies intoeach initiativeto leverage both the experienceand success of the program.

1. Selected designers willbe empowered with global exposure to audiences including media and buyers at FFWD’s showroom space in Paris during Paris Fashion Week from September 30th – October 5th. The designers will also associate with the region’s most influential people in fashion during Fashion Forward Dubai Season 8 from 24th – 25th October at d3.
2. The program will offer designers a number of exciting retail opportunitiesthroughout the region. In collaboration with Galleries Lafayette, FFWD has created an opportunity for apparel and accessory designers. Between September 8th to October 23rd, selected designers will be part of an in-store pop-up, selling their latest Autumn/Winter collections to store visitors. Further retail opportunities will be announced soon.

3. FFWD designers& d3 creative partners will benefit from a prestigious university scholarship opportunityto attend a two-month Master Level course at Domus Academy in Milan. Apparel designers can apply for the scholarship as of August 23rd. The selected designer will be announced on October 20th 2016 during the opening day of Fashion Forward Dubai.

4. A series of workshopswill equip designers in the region with invaluable knowledge delivered by industry professionals and stakeholders. Topics of conversation include:
Runway Looks – Optimizing the Catwalk Experience. Presented by senior make-up artistsandhair experts from leading international beauty brands, in addition to authoritative voices from the regions styling and publishing industries. Designers will be invited to a series of presentations, followed by one-on-one sessions with experts to optimize their runway presentations with advanced styling concepts in preparation for Fashion Forward Season 8 and beyond.
Buying Behaviour and Trends – Leveraging your Sales Strategy. Designers are invited to hear and engage in conversation with e-commerce, buying and social commerce experts including leading trend forecasting agency, WSGN, onhow to use technology to optimize and leverage sales, pricing and distribution strategies in today’s digital world. Guests will hear in-depth discussion on how to navigate current and new platforms and achieve commercial success.
Fashion Goes Social: Maximizing Digital Presence. With the help of industry leaders in the social media space,designers will learn how to develop their social media communication skills to maximize their visibility.

5. An Exposure opportunities program will facilitate partnerships between key influencers and designers. Key regional influencers will have the opportunity to work with emerging designers, while designers will make invaluable connections with the region’s social fashion movers. The cumulative fan base of the EPIC influencers, as of today, is upwards of 500,000 followers from across the region, amplifying the visibility of the designers via some of the industry’s most powerful tools for communication.

“EPIC aims to answer the challenges faced by regional designers when entering the fashion and retail landscape. The ‘MENA Design Outlook’ report issued by DDFC, supported by d3 and in collaboration with Deloitte concluded that although the region’s design industry is witnessing considerable growth, to reach optimal level a series of gaps must be addressed. Technology has a large role to play in addressing these gaps, and together with the support of Samsung, DDFC and d3 we hope to bring new approaches that will enable regional designers with greater opportunities to streamline their path to commercial viability,” said Ramzi Nakad, COO and co-founder of FFWD. “Over the past seven seasons of FFWD we have seen many regional designers receive international and regional acclaim as well as commercial success, and we are excited to help further nurture that talent,and to seethem thrive in an ever-changing and challenging global industry.”

“We believe that technology only begins to have meaning when you put it in the hands of the people and when this technology collides with people’s potential, amazing things can happen. Recognizing the importance of the fashion industry in this region, we are keen and passionate to continue on enabling it from a grassroots level in the Middle East. Today, our technology brings meaningful innovation inspiring people to defy barriers,” said Abdo Chlala, Regional Head of IT and Mobile Division at Samsung MENA.

Mohammad Saeed Al-Shehhi, Chief Operating Officer, Dubai Design District, commented, “Fashion Forward’s EPIC is set to be a brilliant project and d3 is delighted to offer full support to the five initiatives with the aim of maximizing international exposure. d3 is always keen to support programs that are geared towards enabling its local and regional designers to reach their full potential globally. By inspiring them to flourish through programs such as this, and through building the supportive infrastructure they need at d3, we will help the growth of the industry and assist in the vision of the diversification of Dubai’s knowledge economy. At d3, it is our responsibility to support designers by listening to what they need from their work environment and wider industry in order to help them achieve the levels of recognition and commercial success they deserve.”

Nez Gebreel, CEO of Dubai Design and Fashion Council, commented, ‘’We are pleased to endorse Fashion Forward’s EPIC; an initiative that is dedicated to our collective goals of fostering the immense potential of regional design talent, by bridging the gaps faced by the industry today, and thereby solidifying Dubai’s reputation as a global fashion destination. Technology plays a key role in the growth of the fashion and design sectors, and it’s fantastic to see brands from that industry including Samsung supporting emerging talents from this region.’’
For further information on five key initiatives of the EPIC program,please contact the EPIC team at epic@fashionforward.ae.And for moreevent details and activity schedules, stay tuned on http://www.fashionforward.ae/epic .