Digital Technology for Saudi Arabian Fashion Shows
Saudi fashion designers have encountered numerous challenges promoting their designs to the public in Saudi Arabia, especially women’s wear, due to religious and cultural regulations. The primary regulatory barrier is that women are not permitted to expose their bodies in the presence of men. Therefore, Saudi designers must deliver their fashion shows to a single gender audience. Furthermore, because there is no governmental process granting permission for these events, fashion designers are forced to take the risk that fashion shows at which they are exhibiting may be shut down. Therefore, this research investigated whether technology could assist fashion designers in promoting their designs, by replacing live fashion shows with digital versions. In order to evaluate the practicality of using technology developed for fashion shows in the context of Saudi Arabia, it is necessary to first resolve any religious, cultural and technical barriers that might restrict the potential acceptability of digital versions of live fashion shows. In this research, a mixed methods approach to data collection was employed, consulting stakeholders including cultural leaders, fashion designers, and consumers. The quantitative data instrument was a three-stage questionnaire, and the qualitative data collection involved two stages, i.e. interviews and observations. The data collected was used to create a framework to establish an outcome based on both a visualisation and a guideline. The visualisation covered the multitude of religious, cultural, and technical issues identified by the study. In addition, a guideline to recreate the fashion show method was developed for fashion designers to follow. The outcome of the framework was then evaluated to examine its validity. The visualisation was evaluated by focus groups, comprising consumers, cultural leaders and fashion designers, while the guidelines themselves were evaluated by fashion designers only. The results obtained from the research clarified that fashion designers are dissatisfied with the current fashion show options, because vital components that would support their success are not present. Therefore, the researcher navigated practices and behaviour in reference to cultural expectations, explored acceptable representations of female in public, developed an approach to modifying this and explored a variety of approaches to creating a visualisation, including using a bodysuit to permit exposure of certain areas of the body. This enabled the development of a replicable and relatively low-cost approach to creating a digital fashion show with guidelines to recreate it. The research concluded with a set of recommendations for fashion designers, allowing them to benefit fully from the digital fashion show. It also helped them to utilise the benefits of using a framework and guidelines to promote their collection in Saudi Arabia.
- PhD