Eco-fashion exists in UAE

Animals Used for Clothing

Animals Used for Clothing (Photo by Maryam Abdullatif)

By Maryam Abdullatif

Dubai –You’ve heard of fast food, but have you heard of fast fashion? Like fast food, fast fashion is clothes made quickly, sold cheaply and is bad for you and the environment. In fact, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, the first being the oil industry. Luckily eco-friendly fashion is aiming to change that by showing its presence even in the UAE.

There are several ways of introducing eco-friendly fashion to UAE such as though fashion designers, fashion educators and various stores.

Sadeem Al Shehail’s has presented eco-friendly collection through showcasing at Dubai Design District from Oct. 26 to 28, 2017. The collection is called ‘Nautical by Sadeem’ and is part of the 10th annual fashion forward showcase in the Emirate.

What makes Al-Shehail’s brand, Sadeem, so valuable is that it provides fashion that has a positive impact on the environment. Not only that but her clothes are high-end and suitable for confident sophisticated women. Her garments are designed with a focus on quality and attention to detail giving it a luxurious feel. Al-Shehail says, “When you say ‘ethical fashion’, you think tie-dye prints and hemp fabrics. I want to make luxury ethical.”

Her collection at the Design District event had fabrics that are all certified non-toxic materials made in Japan.  The garments were also ethically constructed at Design District itself.

Speaking of Design, Al Shehail isn’t the only eco-friendly designer present at District Design. Sass Brown, the author of Eco Fashion, is the founding Dean of Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation. This is important since Brown has spoken worldwide about the topic of Eco-fashion. She is also a researcher, writer, and educator whose area of expertise is ethical fashion. Hopefully, she will be contributing her ideas to the institute as it starts next fall in 2018.

However, it’s not just designers like Brown and Al Shehail who are introducing eco fashion to the UAE.  The good news is that there are eco fashion stores giving people sustainable options.  One of them being My Ex Wardrobe and its concept is to recycle, re-own and reuse second-hand clothes. They have an online shop and pop-up events in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The reason why it’s important to recycle clothes is that making them takes a lot of electricity and water. For example, it takes 2,900 gallons of water to grow the cotton needed to make one pair of jeans. When you recycle, you are making sure that energy doesn’t go to waste.

Bedouin is a store with other ideas of being environmentally friendly. They decided to create clothes that last a long time, in turn, reducing the amount of clothes wasted. yApperal is another one, and it sells high quality, ethically made yoga apparel. Of course, there are much more eco fashion stores scattered around the UAE.

In fact, there are even international brands that exist in the UAE claiming to be eco-friendly. One of them being H&M’s Conscious collection that uses environmentally sustainable materials. Their latest collection for 2017 turns plastic into evening gowns. H&M also encourages recycling old clothes at their stores and give out coupons in exchange. However, H&M is still considered a fast fashion brand because of its excessive production of clothes. That still has a negative impact on the environment and might make the brand seem to be contradicting.

Stella McCartney is also an international eco-friendly brand in the UAE. The owner, Stella McCartney, refuses to use leather or fur for her clothes and bags. McCartney says, “I think my designs have shown that animals don’t have to suffer for fashion.”

Eco-fashion is starting to gain awareness. We have seen it through Al-Shehail displaying her clothes at Design District and Brown being the founding Dean of Design Institute. We have also seen it through eco-friendly stores showing up around the UAE and giving people an ethical option. All that is important because eco-fashion is reversing the damage done by fast fashion. Hopefully, the awareness continues to spread, as no outfit should cost us mother earth.

Video conducted by Maryam Abdullatif: https://youtu.be/gYK1p7TBA_Q

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