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E-Fashion with Rabi Rifi


We take a look at booming e-fashion in the Middle East and chat with VP Buying from leading e-retailer


The leading e-retailer in the Middle East:

Only recently launched in January 2012, Namshi is causing quite a stir among the Middle Eastern fashion world. With over 550 brands and up to 12,000 potential styles available, Namshi has something for everyone; from recognized brands Polo Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, Calvin Klein and Adidas, to more local niche abbaya brands such as Aanchal Chanda.

Namshi is tapping into the rising GCC fashion market, which according to Rabi was “instigated by the opening of large malls such as Mall of the Emirates and the Dubai Mall which opened the gates to many new brands in the region”. These shopping venues “raised people’s expectations, making them much more receptive to up to date fashion trends”.

A market that is becoming savvier by the day:

Travel and general world exposure from Middle Eastern audiences are other factors which have contributed to the market’s evolution: “everybody in the region, whether local or expatriate, is traveling. They are therefore more exposed to key markets such as London, New York or Paris and want to have the same fashion items available at their doorstep or at the click of a button” Rabi adds.

Namshi is looking to broaden its offering by continually adding new brands and introducing up to date brands to its already vast portfolio and by adding new services such as the innovative “Styling Tips” section. It seeks to make its online platform even more intuitive and is pushing to provide more editorial content, which is proving to be very popular among local audiences: “Our editorial content is very popular. We realized early on that customers in the region really like to be given fashion advice on which outfit to wear, the latest trends etc.”. With more than 400,000 followers on Facebook no doubt Namshi will continue to be a fashion advocate in the region.

According to Rabi, one of the behaviors that distinguish the local Middle Eastern from the Western consumer is that they “are very brand driven”. People in the region tend to be looking for brands and not necessarily a particular clothing item.”. Nevertheless their “buying patterns are very diverse. It’s not unusual to have a local female customer buy a sleek, fitted dress and a traditional abbaya at the same time online.” Rabi mentions.

Dubai, an emerging fashion capital:

As an ambassador for fashion in the Middle East, Namshi is also responsible for promoting and nurturing local talent. “We are working with and seeing a lot of investment in local talent.” says Rabi. Some of the local brands under Namshi patronage include: Jordy, Ummah and Lilly by Scabiosa.

When questioned about Dubai’s fashion scene, Rabi shared with us how much the city has evolved over the last few years: “The city has changed so much over the years and is definitely one of the fastest emerging fashion capitals of the world.” According to him: “there are more and more edgy night venues, brands and stores popping up in town, which all contribute to the city’s fashion scene.”

What about your favorite places to shop in town? I asked. “I like going to Bloomingdales where they have a mix of subtle fashion and trendy edgy brands. Jumeirah is quite a good place to find alternative stores and concepts such as O-Concept and crazy Thai restaurant Smiling BKK.”

Fashion tips for 2013:

I asked Rabi about his top fashion tips for 2013. “I see a strong trend for Geo shapes. You’ll be seeing a lot of Floral, as well as mix of monochrome-stripes. I’ve also noticed that Cobalt, lime and Orange are the main colors. For the men, there’s still a trend for the military style emerging as well as Cartoon Graphics and retro jogging pants as key pieces”

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