Wildfires in Turkey and Greece, floods in Venice – like every summer, natural disasters strike everywhere all over the world… While the forest fires in Algeria are suspected to have started as a result of arson, the current heatwave in the region has not helped the situation – all of this is a reminder that we are in the middle of a climate crisis, in which fashion has played a key role.  As Algerian Algeria-based couturier, Samir Kerzabi, says, “We know very well that fashion contributes significantly to climate control change. If there is a lot of high production it causes global warming, causing waste and pollution. Global warming can be controlled fought by reducing production.” The solution seems straightforward.

The second most polluting industry
Statistics Endless statistics and science scientific analysis can make it overwhelming for the average fashion girl to grapple, but it is important to know the details. The United Nations Nations-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just released its most recent findings:  and is calling today “A Code Red for Humanity,” is what the report calls this moment. We have all read about global warming, the rising ocean levels and the melting of glaciers. The IPCC is clear that the temperatures will increase by 1.5° Celsius in the next two decades, effectively leading to the end of the Earth as we know it.  Every country will be affected. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has already warned that the United Arab Emirates, where temperatures have already exceeded 50° C during this summer, could no longer be habitable in a few decades due to rising temperatures.

Fashion Globally, fashion is the second most polluting industry globally – and its toxic waste has played a huge role in the climate crisis.  Simply put, fashion brands need to control their carbon footprint.  This not only requires using more sustainable fabrics, but a complete rethink of supply chains ensuring that there is a full move to renewable energy  as well as and , most importantly, a drastic cut in production levels. The large conglomerates such as Kering (owners of brands such as Gucci and Balenciaga) and LVMH have pledged to make changes. Saudi fashion designer Shahd Al Shehail says, “Smaller independent brands must stay connected to their supply chain, so they know what is happening at manufacturing stages, and be mindful of fabric choices using eco conscious materials.”  It All this requires a complete rethink – from how to pattern cut without waste, to how to dispose of unsold stock.

“Smaller independent brands must stay connected to their supply chain, so they know what is happening at manufacturing stages, and be mindful of fabric choices using eco conscious materials.” 

Her label, Abadia, takes a sustainable approach to fashion and as since Al Shehail previously worked with an NGO that traced fashion supply chain’s, she has an insider’s view on the subject. “What is really key is consumption,’’ she says. For her own label (which has been worn by HM Queen Rania of Jordan) she does not follow trends and prefers a more timeless approach to design and also works closely with local crafts. She makes “clothes that can be cherished.” she says. The fashion industry produces between 80 billion and 150 billion items of clothing items in a year.  Almost three-fifths of all garments are disposed of within a few short years of their production and end up in landfills. Controlling consumption can be a major factor in ensuring that we control the climate crisis.  , Something something that the Middle East is now waking up too.

Every small step helps
This is a region that loves its fashion. A recent report by McKinsey report revealed that the GCC region has one of the highest per capita spends on fashion in the world. Let’s face it, unless you are Greta Thunberg, you are not going to stop buying clothes.  As founder of Dubai-based concept store, The EditRumana Nazim says, “Eliminating fashion is not realistic, people will always want and need clothes.” Her store takes a more responsible view of fashion,  stocking labels that have an eco-conscious approach to design and also working with more regional fashion designers, something she encourages other labels to do.  Homegrown brands will tend to be small batch producers, so will probably most likely have a more ecological and ethical approach to fashion. Remember, every small step helps, as Nazim says, “Sustainability is a loaded subject. I think what consumers here need to know is that every small change counts.” It really all boils down to following the “buy less, buy better” mantra of fashion.

Algerian Designer Samir Kerzabi’s Four Step Guide to how Middle Eastern Fashion fashion can be more responsible

  1. Fashion can do more by moving towards sustainable production. For example, move towards using more natural and upcycled materials.
  2. Give greater importance to recycling and introduce more crafts crafts-based details. Also be aware of recycling of clothing and plastic waste.
  3. Fashion can help send messages to consumers through slogans printed on consciously-made clothing.
  4. Finally, it is better to avoid consumable fashion, that is to say short-lived fashion, and be mindful of how you discard of unwanted items of clothing items.