Omani fashion icon pitches for global exposure


Top Omani fashion designer Nawal Al Hooti says that with the Sultanate promoting tourism, more support should be given to fashion houses on the international stage to promote the country’s rich art and culture.

“We have a rich culture, heritage, traditions. There is a lot of colour in our traditional wear. The diversity of our nation brings more variety to the fashion statements. We have a distinct element to present,” said Al Hooti in an interview to Times of Oman on the occasion of World Fashion Day, today.

Your designs are very popular with Omani women. You are also internationally admired. What do you think has been the reason behind your success? What makes your work different?

I guess the key difference comes from being original. The second is the ability to convert creative ideas into reality. There is also a bit of discipline element that comes into play.

Sticking to the theme of being ethnic, observing what is around and what people would love, learning how they would like to express themselves, all add up.

How is being a fashion designer in Oman different from working in other Arab countries, particularly in the Gulf region?

I am definitely proud to be an Omani. We have a rich culture, heritage and tradition. There is a lot of colour in our traditional wear. The diversity of our nation brings more variety to our fashion statements. So it answers the question partially that being Omani we have a distinct element to present. I also believe, it’s a responsibility to represent Oman as we still have so much to do and so far to go!

What do you consider your greatest achievement since you entered the world of fashion?

Being able to represent Oman at international platforms, especially in the event ‘Oman in Global Eyes’ fashion show at Rome, Italy and in the great event ‘Sanad’ fashion show at UnescoHall in Paris, France, have been my greatest moments.

How do you think you have contributed to the fashion industry in the Sultanate?

I think it will be very unfair to take all the credit! We are a fraternity and we all add glitz to the reputation of the Sultanate. However, if I look back, I think before I entered the industry it was not organised. There were also not too many representations at international platforms, and there was no innovation in terms of evolving fashion statements with a fusion of traditional embroidery and modern day dressing styles. So in all these years, if I have been able to work in that direction, then maybe yes, those are the humble contributions.

Are you holding any training programmes for women interested in pursuing fashion in Oman?

We do not have any formal programmes per se. I have been a visiting faculty and guest lecturer at events and symposiums. But yes, in future, if we ever evolve to that stage, it will be a pleasure to impart the learning. We have a lot of talent.

In your opinion, what are the most important challenges facing the fashion industry in Oman and how do you think they can be addressed?

The challenges would include formalising the industry. We, as a market, need to get more commercial. We need to have formal forums for upcoming talent, and we need to create fashion as an attractive career option and a way to be self-independent. It’s something that we can take pride in as Omanis and do to enhance the reputation of our country. As we promote tourism, we need to have some kind of support for fashion houses to go to international platforms and promote our art, our culture and our country.

How do you see the future of the fashion industry in Oman?

We have just seen the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot be done and achieved. As I mentioned, we have a rich and colourful heritage and we have talent in abundance! That needs to be promoted and presented well in the region and internationally.

Are you planning any fashion show in the near future, in Oman and other countries?

As of now, we are just focusing on our business and looking forward to accomplishing the company’s vision. So, we are not planning any fashion show in the near future.

About the author

An anchor with CNBC TV18 for almost 4 years. Also co-anchors prime-time market shows like Power Breakfast, Traders only, Markets Mid-day and NSE Closing Bell.