By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO
In the midst of a veritable revolution sweeping straight across the Middle East in a blur of force that refuses to abate, it is getting harder and harder to uncover even the smallest glimmer of hope. Whatever victories have been won have been paid for dearly with the precious commodity of human life. However, there are a few sparkles of hope here and there that give reason to rejoice.
One such sparkle is the Femi9 clothing brand, which was launched in Saudi Arabia in 2001 and spreads out across the Middle East with 46 stores dotting the barren desert landscape. According to the official Femi9 website, the company â€œâ€¦is a contemporary clothing company dedicated to the design, manufacture and marketing of clothing garments and accessories for women of different tastes, age groups and styles.â€ Despite the banal mission statement, what sets Femi9 apart from the average clothing brand in the Middle East is its marketing department.
Saudi Arabia has been lambasted in the global media for years for denying women basic rights, such as the ability to drive a car or travel without a male relative. So it comes as quite a surprise to see one of Saudi Arabiaâ€™s most promising companies encouraging women in Saudi Arabia, as well as the region, to celebrate their womanhood. In several slick media campaigns Femi9 asks such questions as, â€œWho is she?â€ and implores women to â€œKeep your face always toward the sunshineâ€. Most of the advertisements feature scenes of rippled sand or other desert scenery. Perhaps the most provocative is of a woman wearing the Islamic cloak, or abaya, standing atop a sand dune as the Saudi Arabian flag whips in the wind and the text beacons, â€œWho is she?â€
The advertisements are getting a lot of response, with social-networking websites like Facebook and Twitter serving to accommodate the discussions that have been generated by both women and men alike. And all the attention is creating a demand for a brand that dares to ask questions that beg for an answer. Quite notably, Femi9 has surpassed a merely retail relationship with its customers that is evident on its Facebook fan page. Femi9 actively promotes the ads and encourages â€œfansâ€ to participate in contests that yield in-store gift certificates as prizes.
As for the clothesline itself, Femi9 offers a wide array of fashions for both conservative and more adventurous women. Thereâ€™s everything from evening wear to casual wear in designs fitting for the most discerning fashionsta or even simply the woman who is just waiting to be heard.