Lebanese couturier Rami Kadi has been announced today as the regional Goodwill Ambassador for the sustainable fashion programme at UNEP. It is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment. The Regional Office for West Asia is based in Bahrain but serves twelve countries including Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
“I am excited to be a part of such a change and I am looking forward to working with the UN Environment Programme in the region,” says Kadi. “Sustainability has been something that I have been trying to incorporate into my collections and has become a topic that is very dear to me. Responsible production will become a reoccurring theme throughout my collections, and I cannot wait to join forces with the UN Environment Programme to achieve our goal. I truly believe that together, we can help shape the future of the industry and promote better and more responsible behavior.” The sustainable fashion program by the United Nations Environmental Programme in West Asia aims to “transform and encourage the region’s consumer base to become wary of their purchases’ environmental impacts, promote circularity and sustainable consumption and production, while encouraging cross-sectoral collaborations to find innovative solutions.”
Kadi, who started his career in 2011, designing couture dresses in his atelier in Beirut, has frequently showcased his collections in Paris during fashion week. His Spring 2020 couture collection included a dress made of recycled plastics. For his showcase, he held a cyber-fashion show highlighting catastrophes related to climate change. Kadi reflects on fashion’s carbon footprint and his new role below.
What is sustainable fashion to you? And what is your relationship with it?
For me, sustainable fashion is the change of how we produce our fashion items towards greater ecological responsibility while creating new values. My relationship with sustainable fashion started with my SS20 couture collection launched in January 2020. It came at a point in time where world events were accelerating, and where climate change was relentless in its pace and effects. Rami Kadi couture SS 2020 features the first dress made completely from recycled plastic, 100% rPET. It is a nod to the idea of turning the bad into good, and to the idea of environmental sustainability that permeates throughout the collection. Rami Kadi Maison de Couture was the first to do a cyber show in the Middle East and our main purpose was reducing the carbon footprint. This relationship continues throughout my collections while using recycled materials as well as old fabrics and textiles.
What made you change your perspective on the industry?
It was about time that brands create fashion while considering humanity and the environment; we need to start saving our natural resources. 97% of what goes into making clothes are new resources leaving only 3% being recycled materials. We needed to start tackling the waste management. Reducing carbon footprint in contributing massively in global warming. Another reason was saving animals’ lives. “We need to stop killing for fashion.” Why not use cruelty-free alternatives? Sustainable fashion is healthier for people and the planet and teaches us how to love our fabrics, textiles, and clothes again.
What does this appointment mean to you?
It means acting more responsibly and advocating a greener environment in the fashion industry by influencing other designers to do the same.
How has COVID-19 impacted the way you do things?
I believed that Covid-19 mainly changed the overproduction and over-consumption way of doing and owning clothes. In reducing production, we help amend the mindset into a new one holding longevity when it comes to clothes. It made us shift to a new level of consciousness to reach a higher moral ground. I involved recycled materials into my pieces, I use my old fabrics and twisted them into new ones, I reduced the production as well. As for streaming online, we started this before the pandemic and we were pioneers, however we continued with it during the pandemic.
What are the most notable changes that you have seen in the fashion industry in terms of sustainability?
Going cyber and streaming online instead of huge events as well as reducing the use of animals inside the fashion industry.
What advice would you give someone who wants to embark on the journey of sustainable fashion?
Create what can last in your wardrobe, sustainability is in your entire business and not only the product you’re producing. Furthermore, use social media to promote and increase awareness so we can maybe reach the ultimate fashion sustainability, one day.