Fashion has begun to increase in popularity as a startup trend in recent years. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Middle East, where numerous companies have emerged that are transforming the existing market and serving overlooked communities of consumers. From groundbreaking e-commerce websites to forward-thinking product developers, following are seven startups that are shaking up the world of fashion in the Middle East:
Available in six countries across the Middle East, Namshi is one of the region’s leading online fashion websites. Since its inception in 2011, the startup has primarily targeted its e-commerce services toward young adults looking to revamp their wardrobe and experiment with new styles. Namshi makes this easy by offering clothing, accessories, and beauty items from more than 500 local and international brands. The startup even has its own in-house collections that consumers cannot find anywhere else.
Closely following the latest trends in fashion, the startup constantly adds to its online stock. Clients can browse these products 24 hours a day on either the Namshi website or mobile application. With several payment options available, the startup has made it simpler than ever to make online fashion purchases.
The Lebanese startup Maku made waves when it launched a Kickstarter funding campaign in September 2016 and met its goal within less than a day. Even more impressive, the company managed to exceed its $20,000 goal by a staggering 225 percent. Since then, Maku has been gaining traction as a startup to watch, garnering substantial funding on other crowdfunding websites. Consumers across the globe have supported the company for its inaugural product: a pair of sandals. Maku’s three founders developed the shoes over the course of nearly 40 production attempts and ultimately perfected what they call one of the most durable and comfortable shoes available. Designed to be used for everything from running errands to hiking, the sandals contain a unique boating fiber that is both adaptable and eco-friendly.
Based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, KOOOT is specifically designed to fulfill the various fashion needs of Middle Eastern women. In June 2016, the startup launched its online store and has since delivered a number of unique services to its clients. In addition to connecting women to local fashion brands, KOOOT provides them with exclusive access to the Global Mall and its diverse array of international brands. In an effort to promote the success of women living within the Middle East itself, the startup lists items through the Women’s Souq store. Featuring products from local female entrepreneurs, this marketplace is paving the way for financial and creative prosperity for any woman with a fashion brand. Besides its product offerings, KOOOT aims to personalize the online shopping experience by offering customized recommendations to its customers and allowing them to provide feedback.
A group of e-commerce engineers and avid shoppers joined together to create an innovative, forward-thinking fashion startup that would better serve the needs of those living in the Middle East. The idea came to fruition in the form of MarkaVIP, an online marketplace that leverages the latest technology to deliver the best shopping experience to customers. Available in more than half-a-dozen Middle Eastern countries, the site features products for individuals of all ages. MarkaVIP customers can purchase both local and international brands for up to 75 percent off standard retail prices. The startup also helps its customer base to remain on top of fashion trends by providing information on emerging industry news and personal style.
In 2013, Dubai-based entrepreneur Ayesha Siddequa founded Future Fashion to revolutionize the world of fashion and give it a more sustainable face. The startup focuses on providing products that promote this vision in many different ways, such as up-cycling, recycling, and ethical practices. Despite these unconventional techniques, Future Fashion offers products created from a wide range of high-quality materials, including bamboo fibers and peace silk. Each of these elements has come together to produce a luxury marketplace that helps those living in the Middle East to connect with eco-friendly brands from within the local region and beyond. One of Future Fashion’s most innovative offerings is its line of abayas that are sustainable and fashion forward in their design.
Based in Egypt, clothing producer Stabraq aims to create a new standard for originality in the fashion industry by providing much more than the current trends to its customers. The startup has developed a new perspective on the traditional T-shirt by using both Islamic influences and original design ideas as inspiration for its product line. One such piece, known as the SajdaFlap Polo, draws its inspiration from the traditional polo shirt and features an updated design that offers customers increased comfort during prayer.
With so many different fashion sites serving customers across the UAE, it is often difficult for consumers to find the right product at the right price. Shopshopme.com has dramatically simplified the online shopping process by consolidating these various stores into one convenient product hub. Known as “Google for retail,” the startup allows users to set search parameters for any fashion item that they wish to buy. Whether shoppers are seeking to pay a certain price or want to locate a specific brand, Shopshopme.com can connect them with products at multiple local retailers simultaneously. This allows consumers to compare prices and shipping times so that they save money and receive their merchandise more quickly.