Aspiring fashion designers in the UAE will soon have access to a dedicated institute where they can learn the tricks of the trade, to help develop the next generation of Fashion Forward designers.
The College of Fashion and Design (CFD) in Dubai’s Business Bay, which will welcome its first batch of students next month, is the first fully accredited college of its kind in the region and will no doubt help to further boost the growing UAE design scene.
Students can study for a bachelor’s of arts in fashion business management, which will offer training in marketing, promotions and retail and is aimed at those interested in working in buying or PR, or in fashion design, which covers design, cutting and manufacture. Both are four-year courses, and there is also a two-year diploma in fashion and design option available.
Haifa Al Anjari, the founding faculty member and an assistant professor, believes the college will play a major role in cementing the future of design in the region.
"The CFD will generate numerous career-pathway opportunities for its fashion-design and fashion business-management graduates, working towards generating the future faces of the fashion and design industries, coining the Middle East as a fashion and design hub," she says.
"CFD will offer a unique set of interdisciplinary programmes, placing fashion and design in a contemporary, global context. The degree and non-degree programmes represent our commitment to provide talented fashion and design students with the professional training and contextual understanding they need to excel in the employment market, and in the future of fashion and design."
Students who do not meet the admission criteria will be given the opportunity to join bridge programs in elementary fashion and basic English.
While not the first courses of their kind to be offered in the region – Esmod and London College of Fashion Dubai both offer fashion and design courses ranging from a few weeks to two years – CFD is the only institute to achieve accreditation. Awarded by the UAE’s Commission of Academic Accreditation, this is an important distinction, and one that might provide the extra validation needed to secure students’ future employment.
Promising state-of-the-art technology and world-class infrastructure, it is hoped that CFD will become an integral part of the UAE design industry and contribute to achieving the UAE’s vision for 2021, which is to become a global fashion hub.
According to the Mena 2016 Design Education Outlook Report, for the industry to be self-sustainable and free of the need to import overseas designers, 30,000 home-grown design students are needed within the next three years.
With several bodies already set up to support new designers, there is no lack of help for emerging talent in the region – Fashion Forward Dubai, the Arab Fashion Council and the new partnership between Dubai Design and Fashion Council and Vogue Arabia are helping to create an environment for effective collaborations.
The opportunities provided by the new College of Fashion and Design are not lost on even the most established of designers in the region.
Lubna Zakwani, of local fashion label Endemage, who herself attended Esmod, believes education is invaluable for everyone.
"Any form of education you take teaches you discipline, so it is of course useful and helps in managing time and adhering to deadlines," she says.
Zakwani adds that the option to study in your home city is definitely a bonus.
"I’m an extrovert, so it helped me a lot being in Dubai, around family and friends and also given that this is the market I’m working for, it benefited me immensely being around the media and understanding the ins and outs of the market," she says.
"We feel very blessed and privileged to be pioneers in this fast-growing industry gaining international recognition and momentum."
College of Fashion and Design is currently taking enrolments for its January 2017 term.