According to fashion intelligence company Edgeexpo, the global fashion industry is expected to be worth $3.3 billion by 2030. The other side of the story? It’s also the second biggest polluter in the world, generating over 15.1 million tons of textile waste annually. The clothes we wear contribute to 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions from industries.
There’s not much time to change our ways, either, because climate change is not a distant threat–it’s looming on the horizon, threatening to create a world our children can’t live in. We’re likely to reach near-catastrophic levels of global warming by 2040, according to a report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Climate Change Panel.
But what can we, as consumers, do? Those 30 dirham jeans are probably going to be bought by someone else, even if you decide not to pick them up. Fortunately, though, it’s not all bad. Consumers–and companies–have been rising up in opposition to unsustainable practices, and the sustainable fashion industry has been thriving ever since. Fashion search engine Lyst recorded a 47% increase in shoppers looking for terms such as “vegan leather” and “organic cotton” in 2018.
Even companies like H&M are getting in on the movement. It’s pledged to become completely climate positive by 2040 and has won awards for its efforts to make fashion more environmentally friendly. And it’s not just fast fashion that’s trying to make the switch. Luxury fashion group Kering’s CEO François-Henry Pinault recently revealed that he, and numerous other fashion CEOs, had been hired by French president Emmanuel Macron to set ‘ambitious sustainability goals‘. Instead of burning luxury products and polluting the environment, brands are now trying to recycle them.
There’s hope–but also a long way to go. Here’s Vogue Arabia’s spotlight on the Middle Eastern green fashion brands you should keep on your radar.
Retold Dubai (Al Barsha, online)
Once known as My Ex Wardrobe, Retold Dubai specializes in upcycling secondhand wardrobes and giving clothes a new life. They accept high-street as well as designer labels and let you sell your clothes as long as they’ve been gently used and not visibly damaged. Interested in recycling your wardrobe? Check out their website here, or head to their brick-and-mortar location in Al Barsha.
Okhtein Handbags (Bloomingdales Dubai, Bloomingdales Jeddah, Boutique 1 Abu Dhabi)
Okhtein literally translates to sisters, and so it’s no wonder that this handbag brand mixes philanthropy with sustainable fashion. This Egyptian brand’s unique approach to fashion has drawn international attention to the intricate craftsmanship of Egypt and blends luxury design with community engagement. Every handbag you buy supports local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Egypt whose mission is to help women who face financial hardship.
This Moscow and Dubai-based brand is breaking fashion norms with its use of organic cotton, faux fur and recycled polyester in its clothing. The mononymous designer, who also goes by Asmaraia, recently debuted her FW’19 collection at Arab Fashion Week. The feline-inspired collection is sure to fly off the shelves once it hits stores– watch this space for updates!
Antibad. That’s about as simple as the sustainable fashion movement gets. Antibad’s founder Agatha Lingott started the brand in 2017 after noticing how the luxury fashion movement hurt the environment. Its commitment to green fashion extends even to its carbon-neutral, worldwide shipping. The brand’s mission? “To bring style and substance together again,” per its website.
Joseph & Alexander (online)
This is the only kind of plastic we want on the beach. If you’re thinking of soaking up the sun (but sustainably), this swimsuit brand makes all their products out of plastic sourced from the ocean. They’ve partnered with Emirates to create an exclusive Middle East collection, and even have a kids collection so you can get your tiny tot into sustainable fashion early.
Alberto Sartori (online)
Leather can be sustainable if you do it right– and Alberto Sartori is proving that. And if you’ve ever wished a handbag designer would just get you, Alberto Sartori is your genie in a bottle. They offer endlessly customizable and personally tailored handbags made from leather sourced from sustainable tanneries in Tuscany and Veneta.