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Introducing the Arab World’s First Sustainable Clothing Brand

Photo: Chebmoha

Photo: Chebmoha

Second to oil and gas, fashion and textiles are the most polluting industries in the world. From the pesticides used in cotton farming to the discarded clothing filling up landfills, fashion’s impact on the planet is vast. And as one of the biggest players in the global economy, the industry has a responsibility to protect and maintain the environment. Bahraini fashion designer Rawan Maki has introduced an eponymous label manufactured completely out of recycled, organic, and low-impact materials sourced from around the globe, from the fabric to the buttons. The 26-year-old designer recently showcased her debut collection in New York, where it was positively received by showgoers. “It was my first fashion show so I did not really know what to expect,” she tells Vogue Arabia. “We had a lot of buyers at the show, who I am still talking to now. The only thing is, I have a limited amount of pieces for my first collection and I would rather stock it in the Middle East. I visualise an Arab woman when I am designing my pieces.”

While the collection is produced in London, the environmental engineer-turned-designer ensures that her limited-quantity designs are for the Middle Eastern consumer. “My focus has been on the Arab world, but it just so happened that being in London and New York, things are taking a pace there – which is great, but I always have the Arab consumer in mind.” She continues, “In this region in particular, there is a giant gap in the availability of environmentally friendly clothing.”

Photo: Chebmoha

Photo: Chebmoha

The Yale graduate, who has been eco-conscious since childhood, attributes the lack of environmental consciousness to awareness. “Even when I started my label, I had my family members questioning me. They were like, OK, but who cares? In London, there are many sustainable fashion designers; I am friends with a lot of them. Here? We don’t recycle properly yet. I also think there’s no one to take the initiative.” However, the designer is hopeful. “Fortunately, there are a few environmentally conscious consultancies and companies emerging. It is risky, so someone needs to be brave and just say ‘I’ll do it’. I am happy to be the pioneer for that in the region.”

Photo: Chebmoha

Photo: Chebmoha

Featuring high-waisted linen trousers and knee-skimming dresses made of reusable materials, the standout garment from the 11-piece collection is an abaya created out of recycled plastic bottles. The abaya also features peace silk, which is harvested from silkworms that have died naturally, rather than killing them for their yarn. “We use any leftover scrap material to make accessories such as statement headbands and bracelets,” she says. You would never be able to tell the designs are recycled just by looking at them. “If a customer doesn’t care about my clothes being sustainable, I am completely fine with that. I still think they are gorgeous. The eco-friendly aspect is a bonus.”

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