In the fashion world, many Arab designers are hitching a ride on the Slow Movement train, one that seeks to increase the world’s appreciation of the value of our planet and its resources by slowing things down. Ever since the pandemic, a time when life took a literal pause as people cooped up in their homes and became hyper-aware of global news, from that came a heightened need for change, one that is laced with a push for sustainability and eco-branding.
Today, fashion brands all over the region are taking part in this new narrative. With COP27 just around the corner, an event all about climate change and sustainability, we thought to spark a new conversation by taking a look at a select few brands that have embraced green fashion with ingenuity, creativity, and wit.
Kicking off in 2018, the Arab luxury fashion brand Abadia was the brainchild of Saudi designer Shahd AlShehail, a woman with a passion for weaving the Kingdom’s rich local heritage within the global modern fashion scene. The Arab identity is such an intrinsic element of AlShehail’s work especially as the designer fully relies on local production from Arab artisans operating from her tailor house in Lebanon.
Other than celebrating her culture and Arab identity, the designer is also an advocate for sustainable fashion. She makes it a priority that the creation and design process behind every piece of clothing is both ethical and eco-friendly. By relying on leftover fabric, recycled polyester as well as faux leather, the brand maintains its sustainable approach. They take it a step further by also repurposing any fabric leftover from the design process into toys as well as packaging.
The creative mind behind Reemami, a modern UAE-based womenswear brand is Reema Al Banna, a Palestinian designer who turned her love for fashion into a full-ledged clothing brand back in 2010. The main aesthetic of Reemami is of fresh modernity that combines styles from the East and West. Clashes of color, patterns, and unique shapes bring out the essence of the designer’s work as she always likes to experiment and play around with what is possible when it comes to fashion.
The brand is not just quirky and fun, it also immerses itself in serious and important narratives, the biggest being that of sustainability. Reemami applies an eco-friendly approach to all its creations whether its zero waste policy which includes repurposing leftover fabric into headbands and other kinds of products or its minimal approach to production, creating new collections in small batches and only when they are ordered by customers. As the designer continues her path towards slower eco-friendly fashion, she hopes to see more factories applying the same minimal style of production she is currently promoting in her business.
Back in 2016, the two Kuwaiti designers, Yasmine and Muneera brought their powerful minds together and co-founded Maya Eco, a clothing brand all about functionality, practicality, and comfort. The designers wanted their collections to be the kind that can accompany every woman on her daily journey whether it be lounging on the couch or running a few errands. By 2020, the brand expanded beyond womenswear branching out to also include menswear and kidswear as part of their fashion clientele.
Known to be slow and sustainable, Maya Eco follows ethical and eco-friendly practices when it comes to bringing its designs to life. From the very start, the brand always relied on its local factory headquartered in Egypt to churn out its latest collections. The factory would be home to local artisans who would apply slow fashion techniques including slow stitching to push for sustainable fashion. Also, by only releasing its collection during certain seasons, the brand is taking on the same minimal style of production as Reemami and other green fashion brands.
Founded in 2017, the fashion brand named after its founder, Roni Helou, is all about unique androgynous collections that mix and play around with patterns. With many of their collections, it always feels like they are purposely stitching together various fabrics that you wouldn’t usually combine in one outfit. At other times, the brand completely shatters fashion norms like how they have made an enormous puffer scarf out of parachute fabric.
Roni Helou is also a proactive promoter of eco-friendly practices as well as a voice and platform that advocates for animal and human rights. All its material is sourced from vintage, leftover fabric coming from factories and old shops rather than relying on the purchase of newly imported fabrics. Everything is also locally sourced by Arab artisans and tailors in Lebanon who put their creativity and passion into each piece.
Maison Farah Wali
An advocate and lover of Egypt’s rich heritage, the brand known as Maison Farah Wali, considered the brainchild of a designer of the same name opened its doors in 2018. The brand relies on experimental and modern techniques to bring its collections to life and always had the goal of customizing its clothes for each of its customers as a way to celebrate the uniqueness of each individual.
When it comes to sustainability, the brand pushes for slow fashion by ensuring that all its collections are made by hand using recycled fabric and sustainable ink. Each piece is made with a passion that can easily be seen through the unique, intricate design and quality of each collection.