Fashion has become an essential part of the e-commerce industry in the Middle East. From design houses to independent retailers, fashion startups of all kinds are making it easier than ever for consumers to explore new styles and connect with up-and-coming designers. Arab fashion startups will only continue to shape the face of e-commerce in the region, so it’s crucial to follow the ones that are making the biggest impact.
Here are seven fashion startups to watch in the Middle East today:
Entrepreneur Alanoud Al Mubarak established Fashtory to address the underserved fashion sector in Saudi Arabia. The firm has created a platform through which emerging designers can reach buyers, retailers, and other fashion lovers around the world.
For buyers, Fashtory eliminates much of the hassle surrounding the search for exciting new fashion pieces. Whether shoppers are searching for the latest menswear or looking to purchase new shoes, they can navigate the startup’s directory of products and designers from across the globe. Fashtory does most of the work, so its users can get exactly what they want or discover entirely new styles.
Fashtory also makes it easy for small-time and new designers to expand their fanbases by connecting them to its diverse global network. Through its mobile application, the startup allows designers to categorize both themselves and their stores so that they will appear in relevant customer searches.
Founded in 2016, La Reina has made it easy for Egyptian consumers to enjoy designer fashion without needing to own pieces themselves. To this end, the online platform allows locals to rent their wedding gowns, evening wear, and accessories to others. La Reina enables users to find the right look for any occasion by filtering results based on the color and size of the garment. Individuals can even search by designer, so they can shop their favorite styles and looks.
After users select the items they would like to rent, La Reina will either deliver the items to their front doors or send them to nearby fitting venue. The startup makes returns easy by allowing renters to arrange for pick-up or drop their items off at one of its locations. Since its inception, La Reina has enabled its dress owners to earn nearly $200,000 in rentals.
Namshi caters to the demographic of young, stylish Arab consumers who are looking to experience new styles and fashion brands. The startup has cultivated a stock of more than 500 different labels from both regional and international designers. By following emerging fashion trends, Namshi ads hundreds of clothes, shoes, and accessories to its stock every week. The startup also sells items from its own in-house fashion line.
In 2014, twins Rawan and Suzan Alsadi brought “hijab-friendly” fashion to Dubai with the founding of their startup, Rozan Designs. The entrepreneurs combined a love of fashion with their background in finance to establish a fashion house that creates high-end clothing for both those who dress in hijab and those who do not.
Rozan Designs debuts two collections every year. In the past, the startup has created both seasonal collections and special collections for brides to be and Ramadan. Rawan and Suzan collaborate on every piece they sell, leading everything from the design phase through the distribution of each collection.
With the help of social media influencers, Rozan Designs markets its products through its Instagram account, which boasts more than 34,000 followers. The startup then conducts its sales on Whatsapp and Modacorner.
Jewelry designer Mema Al Shafey has been developing elegant, high-quality necklaces, tiaras, rings, and more since 2012. She sells the pieces through her startup, Mema Jewelry, which is helping Egyptian women make fashion statements with bespoke accessories.
All of the startup’s designs feature 18k gold and 925k silver fitted with gemstones, making it easy for even the trendiest fashionistas to find something they will love. In the past, Mema Jewelry has also outfitted a number of local celebrities.
The Tel Aviv-based BFrow has created a unique forum for fashion lovers, designers, and others in the industry. The startup’s name references the “frow,” a fashion term which refers to the first row at fashion shows. Just as the frow provides audiences with an optimal view of the catwalk, BFrow hopes to give its users the best portal into the fashion industry.
To this end, BFrow leverages machine learning to create and deliver fashion-related articles to its network of readers. Much of the site’s content also focuses on lifestyle topics and beauty products. Fashionistas can even publish their own articles to BFrow, which helps them reach wider audiences and engage in new collaborations.
A unique fashion brand in Egypt, Zaam Designs has been creating high-quality handbags and clutches for consumers since 2012. Entrepreneur and designer Ahmed Azzam leverages both contemporary aesthetics and vintage flair to create his designs, which cater to both male and female clients. Zaam Designs produces each of its pieces at its Cairo workshop, thereby guaranteeing that they are of the best quality in terms of both craftsmanship and materials.
Based on these brand principles, Zaam Designs consistently unveils innovative collections that feature an array of materials and silhouettes. This changing aesthetic has helped the startup cater to those of varying taste and fashion sense.