11 Middle-East-Based Ethical Fashion Finds You Need to Know
After our recent article on the Hidden Costs of Fast Fashion, we decided to look into what ethical fashion our region has to offer. And there is nothing like supporting local initiatives and entrepreneurs. So after far less digging than we expected, here is a list of our 11 top finds to explore:
1) Bambah Boutique
Bambah Boutique, launched by Maha Abdul Rasheed, started as Dubai’s first high-end vintage boutique. A decadent space with hand-picked clothing and accessories, it is known for redefining people’s understanding of ‘preloved fashion’ in the country, bringing the sustainability ethos of ‘upcycling’ into new focus.
While many of the pieces picked for the store come from outside the Middle East, we feel this concept deserves a firm nod, because true vintage fashion is one of the most environmentally low-impact trends that have been gaining momentum.
After visiting the Al Baqaa refugee camp in Jordan in 2009, where nearly 200,000 Palestinian refugees lived, Zeina Chaaban started Palestyle as a way of creating jobs and opportunities for women there. With a strong social mission, purchasing from this brand is a way of empowering female refugees and the families they support, and proceeds from Palestyle are also cycled back into the camp in various renovation projects to make it more livable.
3) Green and Glam
Green and Glam describes itself as ‘an eco fashion boutique that selects for you the most stylish, ethical, and eco-friendly brands’. Located in Achrafieh, Beirut, they offer a beautiful range of clothes, accessories and other knick-knacks, all falling in organic and/or ethical production criteria. While again, this eclectic store does not carry predominantly Middle-Eastern designers and artisans, that fuel factor is offset by their bringing of ecological and ethical consciousness to the neighbourhood, and supporting positive international brands.
4) I Love My Pocket
A t-shirt line launched in Dubai, I Love My Pocket is known for its iconic keffiyeh-print pocket. This is a cheeky and subtle homage to heritage and culture, integrated into a modern everyday staple. Not only are they fair-trade produced, but 10% of the retail value of each t-shirt is donated to The Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund, directly supporting the education of children in the Huda Al Masri Pediatric Cancer Department.
5) LaLa Queen
Another Lebanon local, Founder of LaLa Queen Sally Sarieddine brings sustainable fashion to the handbag department through ethically sourced materials made by local artisans. Sally is heavily invested in fashion that is deeply sustainable, focusing on the entire harvesting, processing, and creation trajectory, including dyes, materials, and a healthy workforce. Also, the bags are gorgeous, and Amal Clooney is a big fan. So there’s that.
Darzeh is a Child’s Cup Full project, a ‘..non-profit women’s economic empowerment initiative based in Zababdeh, a village in the northern West Bank’. Fair Trade Certified, and an amazing source of employment and training, Darzeh offers a collection of hand-stitched Palestinian products, made by refugee women in the West Bank, and celebrating Palestinian cultural heritage. What’s not to like? Check out the amazing video on their website to learn more about their work and to browse their spectacular collection.
7) Ziad Ghanem
Renowned London-based Lebanese designer Ziad Ghanem brings a spectacular luxury, glamour and eccentricity to his ‘up-cycled’ design line. Using a diversity of approaches from organic fabric, rubber and dyes, to recycling from factories, vintage stores and more, he also makes sure he supports ethical working conditions. Definitely part of the very ‘high-end’ spectrum, Ghanem is a major ground-breaker in the ethical fashion conversation, particularly in Lebanon.
8) Sep Jordan
SEP Jordan offers more beautiful embroidered craftsmanship from women refugee artists, offering an outlet for their skill and providing economic avenues of support and expression. Ethical, socially-conscious, community-driven, and very rich in style, we couldn’t leave them off our list.
AïA is a vegan clothing brand specializing in knit-wear and launched by young and booming designer Aya Fayad. Originally Lebanese, born in Belgium, and now based in Dubai, Fayad sources all her materials from synthetic fibers and vegetable leathers. With a no-harm, no-kill policy, you can buy here guilt-free and look incredibly cool in the process.
Read more about her in this personal blog post:
10) All Things Mochi
Ayah Tabari, founder of All Things Mochi, is yet another designer who pays deep homage to the traditional embroidery craft. She reformats it into colorful, unique, fusion designs, working with diverse local artisans, and giving us pieces that are ultimately delightful. All of Tabari’s work is ethically produced and focused on creating jobs for women in impoverished Palestinian communities.
11) The Bayrut Express
Another eco-friendly concept store in Lebanon, Bayrut Express sources from global and local green brands, and also coordinates with Waste Management NGO’s in Lebanon to recycle, upcycle or re-use materials into fashion products. We definitely have enough waste for that, so here’s hoping for many new up-and-coming clothing lines!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our little regional ethical fashion adventure. Let us know if we’ve listed one of your favorites, and even better, if we’ve missed one!