From the moment the Saudi Vision 2030 was declared by HRH Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in 2016, the country has been working to push all its sectors towards a more sustainable and Saudized future. A market which gained a ton of traction online in 2020 and generally during 2021 is the fashion and retail market which is projected to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.87% from 2021’s expected SAR 9.35 million to SAR 11.32 million in 2025.
In 2019, the Saudi Fashion Commission launched the kingdom’s first fashion event, Fashion Futures. Two years later, the event went digital and was renamed Fashion Futures Live in an effort to continuously and globally promote the country’s local designers and fashion-based heritage.
Another big step taken by the kingdom under Vision 2030 was the launch of the futuristic city of NEOM, globally known for its grand futuristic sustainable aspirations which come with the efforts the city is putting towards human progress across all sectors. One industry that NEOM focused on in 2021 was fashion, more specifically the provision of a fashion scholarship for Saudi youth at one of the highest ranking fashion institutes in the world, Polimoda Fashion School (PFS), located in Italy.
The city of NEOM teamed up with TAM to not only bring awareness to the availability of the Saudi National Fashion Scholarship but to also further instill its position as a vanguard for future fashion development in the minds of the public. To get things going, a page dedicated to the fashion scholarship was uploaded to NEOM’s scholarship programs website. That is where interested fashion designers, enthusiasts, and fashionistas could find what information they felt they lacked, as well as register for the chance at a Master’s and Undergraduate opportunities in Italy.
From TAM’s end, the company’s first responsibility for the scholarship was to connect and find the future Saudi fashion designers using direct communication methods. This step included sending out over 32,300 Electronic Direct Mail invitations to register, phone calls, and regular emails which would spread the word and offer instant explanations and answers to any questions.
Next up was the registration period which garnered a total of 13,057 newly registered website users and 349 completed applications from fashion designers living across Saudi Arabia. Once this period ended, TAM worked on filtering through the applications to find the 109 valid submissions based on criteria set by both NEOM and TAM. All those who made it through the filtration process would then be evaluated by representatives of PFS who scored the applications on a 1-to-5 scale and conducted interviews with the applicants to nominate the top candidates. Of the total, 26 undergraduate applicants were shortlisted and eight waitlisted, while the Master’s program saw 29 shortlisted designers and 46 waitlisted.
The nine-month Master’s program in Fashion Design and the two to four-year undergraduate program began in October of 2021. The former will gain the opportunity for on-ground intensive training and experience throughout the duration of the program, while the latter is promised a 3-month industry internship to develop their skills and learn the lay of the professional land.