Shoes, Choos, and Etihad
UAE’s national airline partners with iconic brand to promote fashion in the Arab world
Etihad Airways, the flag-carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and airline of the fashion industry wannabee, teamed up with the London-based shoe and accessories brand, Jimmy Choo, for this year’s New York Fashion Week (NYFW) in an effort to bridge the gap between the Arab and Western worlds of fashion.
“There is a long history in terms of fashion in the Arab world,” Amina Taher, Etihad’s New York Fashion Week and Jimmy Choo Lounge spokesperson told The Media Line. “We believe, in terms of being the national airline [of the UAE] and a Middle Eastern carrier, we needed to associate ourselves with fashion.”
As part of Abu Dhabi’s “2030 Vision” — the UAE capital’s campaign to develop and diversify both economically and socially — Etihad chose to partner with Jimmy Choo in a belief that its shoes and handbags are of particular importance for clothing-covered Emirati women who, because of religious codes of dress according to Islamic law, make their fashion statements through accessories.
“If you see women, we always wear our sheila (veil) and abaya (robe-like outer-garment, which covers the whole body). Basically, you can’t see a lot of your clothes so two things that stand out for Arab women are your handbags and your shoes,” Taher said, adding that, “Emirati women appreciate high style.”
Known as the official shoe-maker for Princess Diana of Wales, Jimmy Choo is an iconic brand for men and women that in addition to shoes offers handbags, leather goods, scarves, eyewear, and fragrances.
Hooking up with an international airline to promote the company makes perfect sense to CEO Pierre Denis who told The Media Line, “Jimmy Choo is a global fashion accessories brand with a dynamic customer (base) spanning all ages and cultures.”
The Arab market is considered to be an important area of growth for the company, rendering the UAE, where it is represented by six stores, a perfect place to start.
“Jimmy Choo has a strong presence in the UAE.” Taher said. “When I walk around outside of work, I do see Jimmy Choo’s (shoes).”
Not only does Etihad want to promote a fashion label that speaks to the citizens of the UAE, but the airline chose Jimmy Choo because a woman, Sandra Choi, who is also Jimmy Choo’s niece, is the creative director. “I see women empowerment. I saw Sandra Choi and her position in the company and what she has accomplished and it is an inspiration to me. I love seeing strong women being passionate and prominent in their industries,” Taher said.
Etihad Airways is the first commercial airline to sponsor a fashion brand. Aside from associating with Jimmy Choo, Etihad is partnering with 17 fashion weeks around the world for the next three years, including New York, London, Milan, Berlin, Sydney, and Mumbai.
To celebrate Etihad and Jimmy Choo joining forces for this year’s NYFW, a new VIP lounge was unveiled and a series of events, including a performance by Mary J. Blige, were held at John F. Kennedy Airport. The airline even added the NYFW logo to some of its aircraft.
According to Taher, both Etihad and the fashion world share similar visions – both are about luxury, innovation, and design.
Katie Beiter is a student journalist at The Media Line