Embracing Upcycled Fashion
Check out three Arab fashion brands with upcycling at their core
The benefits of upcycled fashion are many. By reusing dead-stock garments and fabrics that would otherwise end up in landfills, upcycling increases the quality and lifetime of materials and garments. Three labels from the MENA region have understood the importance of sustainability, ensuring that upcycling is at the core of their production.
“By eliminating the need for production of raw materials, we help contribute to a reduction in air pollution, water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” says Leen Nizameddin, founder and creative director of environmentally conscious Syrian brand Sound On. Nizameddin explains that her brand came to fruition “after learning about the environmental responsibility that brand owners must carry when figuring out their production process.”
Sound On is produced by a small team of skilled tailors and is locally produced in Dubai. Each reworked item is handmade and one-of-a-kind. “Our textile recycling process entails reusing and recycling textiles into new yarn for production. Textiles are first collected, sorted then washed before getting pulled into fibers. The fibers are then heated and spun into yarn, ready for subsequent use in weaving or knitting.”
Mara Atelier is a seasonless, slow fashion brand. Founded in 2020 by Tamara Zeidan in Beirut, Mara aims “to rewrite the rules of fashion, completing an industry’s metamorphosis from a short-lived, loveless and unsustainable evolution to spawning and even bringing back an original sense of affection and belonging.”
Mara’s fashion offerings aim to transcend time and trends. The brand curated 100 pieces from designer archival stock, where items were deconstructed to form new patterns, shapes and designs. Zeidan explains that “the process begins with existing high-quality, designer archival garment pieces, which I curate, then decide what I want to transform them into, and what role each piece will play in the new design. We then proceed to deconstructing the material and applying it to the chosen pattern. The new piece is built and sewn within another. Once it fits well and feels great, with the right balance and harmony in its design, colors, fabrics and even buttons, a new Mara garment is born, resonating with our ‘timeless and mindful’ vision.”
The brand’s debut collection will consist of jackets, shirts, hoodies and dresses. The aim is to continue improving the waste management process by looking for new ways in which to experiment with a variety of upcycling methods and techniques. In the future, Mara wants to become a hub for other like-minded creatives for whom upcycling is a priority.
Launched by Eric Mathieu Ritter in 2018, Emergency Room is a sustainable slow fashion brand based in Beirut, Lebanon, dedicated to creating unique pieces for individuals who are unafraid of voicing their opinions. In reaction to the multiple ongoing crises that Lebanon is facing, Emergency Room decided to launch a sub-brand called Overworked*. The brand is modeled after the idea of circular economy and localism, while promoting a more sustainable fashion industry. Overworked* launched in March 2021, aiming to make sustainable fashion more accessible locally through a focus on commercializing thrifted casual pieces that are customized, tie-dyed, printed over and upcycled.