How did a female urban scene emerge in our region?
When streetwear took high fashion by storm in New York, London and Paris, it did so as well in our part of the world. Seeing as Dubai and Abu Dhabi girls have primed themselves to be the international face of Middle-Eastern fashion, it’s refreshing to see many of them sporting the freshest kicks and streetwear brands available out there. And not just that, many girls have also taken the initiative to launch their own brands and boutiques dedicated to urban lifestyle. We, at Sole, want to document and help raise awareness about these women who are cultivating the scene in the Middle East.
So how did a female urban scene emerge in our region? It is no surprise as most of Dubai’s fashion enthusiasts rely on blogs, fashion and street-style websites from around the world for inspiration. And for some time now, streetwear has been taken from the streets to the Internet and dominated in the battle for web space through social media like Instagram. With the emergence of the “Outfit of the Day” posts, girls started paying more attention to their “everyday effortless-chic look” and thus began to form an interest in urban-wear. It wasn’t about how fancy you could dress on a daily basis anymore, but more about how good you can look wearing basic clothes. Similarly, girls in the Middle East took the initiative to convey the same attitude and mood through their daily posts and this created a new definition to what’s cool in the region.
On a more high-fashion note, respected designers and magazine editors are significant protagonists of this phenomenon and are also considered early adopters of the movement as they were the ones that started combining streetwear with high fashion in numerous editorials and collections, which created a fresh take on fashion. Seen that sneakers and urban culture were now present in the high-fashion industry, fashion conscious women of the Middle East began to progressively feel more comfortable with the idea of mixing the two concepts. And that’s how the culture started blossoming in our region.
Also, one of the biggest factors is how female music influencers started advocating the idea of “being different is being cool” and that included an interest shift from high-fashion labels to street wear culture (unless you went Gaga-style, which is also totally cool). An obvious example of that would be Rihanna. She has been seen wearing brands like Pigalle and Supreme on a daily basis (even to fashion events at times) and that enriched girls’ interest in streetwear. She did it as a statement to show-off her unconcerned attitude towards the written rules of fashion and what girls should and shouldn't be wearing and that consequently started selling the idea of “the more different you are, the cooler you are”. Even other artists like Rita Ora, who has just released a collection in collaboration with Adidas Originals, have pushed women to look at style in another way. Suddenly, it wasn’t about looking sexy but more about the attitude a girl chooses to portray through her style. And since these influencers have a major following in the Middle East, girls of the region directly absorbed these ideas as it made them feel more empowered and allowed them to have more freedom in the ways they could express themselves through fashion.
So we can say that a new generation of fashion music and culture have set the wheels in motion to make their mark in fashion and the arts; and street wear is a part of that.
For women in particular, it’s become more of a form of expression and it is less defined by the constraints of high fashion. The definition of what is style and fashion has broadened, it has become more about personal style and less about following the latest trends. More about being you and making a stance. Evidently, the urban-laidback style has become the new definition of cool and helped the shift of streetwear’s reputation from being related to tomboy style to now being the new fashion statement.
With the scene blossoming in the main fashion capitals and the endless well of high fashion labels in the Middle East, we have found ourselves witnessing two scenarios:
1. Women of the region blossomed here in terms of personal style with the help of high fashion brands incorporating streetwear aesthetics to their designs; Riccardo Tisci being a key example to the latter by uniting high fashion and streetwear to his designs for Givenchy and also Chanel’s Winter 2014 collection, which only included sneakers as the main footwear.
2. Women of the region are not satisfied with only high-end brands anymore, they look to seek out those unique smaller brands and with the region being so ideally located and a mixing pot of so many places, many unique new pieces of fashion were added to our wardrobes
As a result, we start to see a unique regional take on street fashion. Today streetwear has risen up to the level of high fashion in the aspect of influence and trends. For that reason, girls of Dubai have found a new way of expressing themselves through their soles. In our opinion, the girls cultivating the street culture in our region deserve to be given credit regionally and internationally as they are the key actors helping to put Dubai (and surrounding cities) on the map of street wear culture.
Stay tuned for upcoming articles from this series about females in streetwear of the Middle East.
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