Designer in Residence Program


Designer in Residence Program is open for entrepreneurs and start-ups in the fields of textile, apparel, jewelry and accessories who are at the early stage of their business setup and require workspace, resources, guidance, distribution channels and access to funding to produce collections that are marketed to trade and consumers. The DIRs are expected to develop two season collections every 12 months with the exception of fine jewellery designers who are expected to develop one collection every 12 months.


To equip fashion entrepreneurs and start-ups with requisite technical expertise, business knowledge and access to professional network and finance to launch and grow internationally competitive brands.


In the two-year program, support will provide from within BFI and throughout the various network of strategic partnerships. BFI offers start-ups:

  • Commercial Registration application processing
  • Workspace and shared administrative services
  • Guidance from expert designers who will provide entrepreneurs creative direction to develop collection
  • Access to technicians and craftsmen who will work with entrepreneurs to develop patterns, produce samples or prototypes and provide guidance on production
  • Access to suppliers and knowledge resources
  • Access to legal and business professionals and mentors who will provide sound business advice and illustrate challenges in launching the business
  • Access to various distribution channels; e-commerce, retail space, and professional buyers
  • Access to marketing and branding support, press and promotional opportunities
  • Access to funds and accelerators who will support the grooming and pitch of start-ups.
  • Professional field trips and participation in trade exhibitions and events

Typical Applicants

  • Start-up fashion entrepreneurs
  • Mid-career fashion designers interested in developing new apparel/textile/jewellery/accessories categories*
  • Hold a degree in fashion or fashion-related field is preferred but not required

*Currently the incubator caters for apparel designers and limited number of jewellery designer applicants. BFI will soon announce focused programs for textile and accessories.


  • Bahrain residents
  • 18 years of age or older by the application deadline date
  • Hold Commercial Registration from the Kingdom of Bahrain or is in the process of obtaining one through the incubator.
  • Able to commit to the BFI program including a minimum of 20 hours in the studio during Sunday – Thursday business hours
  • Attend scheduled one on one mentor sessions, seminars, and BFI media events, info sessions, and programs


The program will not consider applicants if they:

  • Are enrolled in an academic institution either full-time or part time as a student
  • Have established the business outside the Kingdom of Bahrain
  • Employed full time in a job that requires commitment from Sunday to Thursday
  • Do not have valid residency in the Kingdom of Bahrain

Application Guidelines

  • Fill out the application form
  • Complete an interview with Bahrain Fashion Incubator Representative
  • Submit design portfolio and samples or any supplemental materials that might be requested.
  • Be formally invited to join the program and sign the incubation agreement
  • Submit BD 500 deposit fee towards the program to be refunded upon graduation.

Evaluation Criteria

BFI will review applications and select the Designers in Residence based on the following evaluation criteria:

  • Demonstrate strong commitment to the business venture and is motivated and driven
  • There is a depth of knowledge, clarity of vision in collections and business concept
  • Able to Commit time and financial resources to develop two season collection within the first 12 months of the program*
  • Able to fund product development, sample production, business overhead, monthly fees and human resources beyond what is offered by the incubator
  • Has fiscal responsibility and is able to manage different aspects of the business
  • Able to multitask, handle stress and adhere to deadlines
  • Mature and takes criticism constructively
  • Treats others with respect and can work collaborate with mentors, cohorts, technicians, craftsmen and BFI team in general.

*The estimated spend per collection per season will depend on the product type. Fine Jewellery RID are expected to develop two collections for the two-year period.

Idea & Design Assessment

Draw from inspiration an idea or concept that meets the themes set in the program, has clear customer target and offering (e.g. casual, athleisure, party etc.) and will potentially have commercial appeal

Design Sketch

Designers to choose colour chart, material and propose size variation.

Pattern Making

Develop design patterns manually and CAD.

Produce Gold Sample

Integrate material into the design and ensure accurate fit sample.  It’s the sample where are issues related to design and production are fixed.

Size Set Sample

Produce sample for each size variation

Define Production Sample

Develop clear production sample order sheet for each size variation with clear description and instructions.

Develop Sales Sample

It’s the high-quality perfect sample that will be used in photoshoots presented to judges and potential buyers and featured on the runway.

Runway Show

Final live presentation of the collection to the media, buyers, consumers and industry followers.

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