There’s a new vegan clothing brand in the Middle East on our radar. AïA is a ready-to-wear label based in Dubai that specializes in knitwear and was launched by Aya Fayad—the 22-year-old designer and founder of the guilt-free label. Fayad studied fashion design at ESMOD Paris and personally showcases key looks from her debut Fall 2016 collection here on Style.com/Arabia. The contemporary and edgy aesthetic features a moody palette of black and oxblood and introduces harness detailed sweaters, structured paper bag shorts, and boxy outerwear options in smooth faux leather.
A vegetarian for nine years before taking on the vegan lifestyle five years ago, the young, Belgium-born designer (who grew up between the United States, Chile, and Lebanon before settling in Dubai) discussed the reason behind her transition with Style.com/Arabia. “I became a vegetarian because I am against animal cruelty. I watched a video that was very disturbing about animal products like milk and eggs, and I decided to go vegan because I believe animals are not ours to use, kill, or wear,” she explained.
Design-wise, Fayad sources materials that are made from synthetic fibers and vegetable leather, and placed emphasis on the latter. “Vegetable leather looks and feels the same as animal leather,” she stated. “The quality is good and it’s stylish. Why would you kill an animal for that?”
Following her graduation, Fayad did a three-month internship at Elie Saab. Speaking about her experience, she revealed, “When I was accepted for my internship the house had just started producing the ready-to-wear bridal gowns. Since I studied ready-to-wear and knitwear, I wanted to learn how Haute Couture and bridal was produced.” At Elie Saab, Fayad practiced hand embroidery, invisible stitching on lace, and pattern drafting.
After her time at the renowned fashion house ended, Fayad went on to launch her first collection in February 2016. She was handpicked to showcase her debut collection in Paris during IPAG’MOD for Charity—an emerging designer platform and association with a charity initiative. Soon after the showcase, her brand was picked up by ASOS, and select pieces from her collection will be exclusively available on the e-commerce website from August.
In recent years, the somewhat difficult task of curating a wardrobe with a clear conscious has become less problematic, with brands adopting ethical standards, eco-friendly methods, fair labor, and animal-friendly materials without compromising style or quality. Since launching her eponymous line, British designer Stella McCartney has avoided using leather and fur in her collections. Meanwhile, a number of designers behind luxury labels have gone fur-free, such as Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, and most recently, Giorgio Armani. Our regional brands are also committed to a sustainable fashion approach. The cruelty-free concept sits at the heart of accessories brand Sarah’s Bag and Dubai-based, ready-to-wear label Mochi, and both brands use artisanal skills and opt for handcrafted, raw materials.