Lebanon is located in West Asia and shares borders with the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Syria to the north and east, and Israel to the south.
Lebanon’s geographical location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean and the Arab world has led to the formation of religious, racial, and cultural diversity.
Lebanon is called the bride of the Middle East, and Beirut is one of the top cities in the Arab world in terms of quality of life.
Beirut is the capital city of Lebanon. It has long been described as the “most fashionable city in the Middle East” due to the abundance of fashion designers and the holding of various fashion shows. However, due to multiple wars, the name Beirut was associated with images of ruins for decades.
Gradually, Beirut finds its colorful and lively face. Despite the problems caused by the influx of large numbers of Syrian refugees into Lebanon, the political unrest, and the activities of religious extremist groups, young Lebanese fashion designers are trying to present a different picture of Lebanon.
Fashion Industry in Lebanon
Some young Lebanese fashion designers have made their way to major fashion shows in Europe, such as French fashion shows. International experts believe that compliance with international standards in the design and execution of fashion shows has led Lebanon to the global borders of the fashion world.
In Lebanon, fashion and clothing are serious issues. Lebanese Fashion businesses range from the retail of affordable clothing to the in-house production of luxury clothing. Some Lebanese brands create regular collections in ready-to-wear, couture, and accessories with a small number of models elaborated by a designer who is frequently the brand’s founder.
Others focus on tailoring rather than designing their own unique collections. They replicate and alternate existing designs to cater to the needs of their clientele.
Beirut designers are the first choice for people who live in the Middle East and can afford custom clothing. Lebanese designers are regarded as regional fashion designers, and the country has long been a popular shopping destination for Middle Eastern visitors.
The majority of great Lebanese designers began their careers in couture and were well-known for their red carpet designs. In fact, in many people’s minds, Lebanese fashion is usually linked with glamorous evening dress.
Some Lebanese designers have a global reputation by hosting fashion shows in the top international fashion capitals and designing clothes for many celebrities worldwide. Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad, Basil Soda, Rabih Kayrouz, Abed Mahfouz, Tony Ward, Georges Chakra, Georges Hobeika, and Robert Abi Nader are some of the Lebanese fashion designers who paved the way to the worldwide scene.
In comparison to many other countries in the region, Lebanon has less censorship and more freedom of expression. This openness, combined with a diverse and cosmopolitan population, has resulted in a thriving artistic and creative scene that distinguishes Lebanon regionally. Furthermore, Lebanese designers indicate that local and regional press and lifestyle websites provided them with excellent exposure to customers. They also cited the small size of Lebanon as one of the benefits of operating in the country, as it makes it easier for them to set up a company and contact suppliers.
On the other hand, some Lebanese fashion designers have supply chain issues because suppliers tend to store textiles for formal evening wear, which is in higher demand, and have had to restrict the variety of their stock due to the country’s economic circumstances.
Moreover, they have some difficulties accessing foreign markets. Buyers usually see fashion houses’ collections during trade events, exhibitions, fashion shows, or private showrooms. The majority of sales occur in one of the world’s fashion capitals, such as Paris, Milan, New York, or London. Emerging Lebanese designers generally cannot afford to attend these exhibits because they are highly expensive. Lack of support and access to finance is the other problem of Lebanese fashion designers.
In conclusion, the Lebanese fashion industry enjoys several advantages, including the local culture, the quality of life, and the dynamics of other linked sectors, such as tourism, notably in terms of knowledge exchanges. These information exchanges feed into fashion designers’ careers and serve as the “engine” for some Lebanese fashion designers’ worldwide and regional success, which has an impact on local and regional growth.
However, the lack of governmental or institutional support and intermediary organizations such as professional associations, trade organizations, or a fashion council representing the national fashion industry, organizing events, encouraging more knowledge exchanges, and promoting young designers are limiting the industry’s future development.