100 Saudi Brands to take fashion initiative sustainability to the next level

DUBAI: Two of the Fashion Commission’s 100 Saudi Brands, Yousef Akbar and Tima Abid, use local materials and minimize their carbon footprint to build a sustainable industry in the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia’s Fashion Commission contributed to achieving sustainability by supporting the fashion industry through its 100 Saudi Brands initiative and the launch of the Saudi Professional Fashion Association.

The 100 Saudi Brands initiative, launched last year, aims to support the business development of 100 Saudi designers and luxury brands, providing Saudi fashion products with international credentials.

It will help build 100 Saudi brands that can compete regionally and internationally. This is within the Fashion Commission’s framework to develop the Kingdom’s fashion sector in all its legislative and regulatory aspects. It will also support and empower its workers, including creators and investors.

Sustainability in fashion

Saudi fashion designer Yousef Akbar told Arab News that “there is no such thing in this whole world as a sustainable brand.”

Fashion designer Yousef Akbar said that wearing a digital garment does not require manufacturing. As a result, there will be no waste or carbon footprint. (Supplied)

manufacturing. As a result, there will be no waste or carbon footprint. (Supplied)

However, he said sustainability is one of his core philosophies. Akbar and his team achieve sustainability by minimizing their carbon footprint, using sustainable materials, and digital pattern making.

In terms of minimizing the carbon footprint, Akbar said he sources his materials as locally as possible.

For example, if he was designing or producing a piece in Australia, Akbar tries to get the materials from that country. “This way, the materials don’t have to travel so much,” he added.

According to him, sustainable materials do not have to be recycled since these materials can often produce a lot of waste.

Whenever he uses recycled materials, Akbar’s team tries to use ones that are Global Recycled Standard certified, which he believes is one of the “strictest recycling certifications  out there.”

Akbar uses stock fabric from other companies or designers when making and producing his pieces. “So instead of them going to waste, we try to utilize them,” he added.

This year, Akbar’s demi-couture will introduce barcodes on every garment. The barcode allows Akbar’s clients to see where the garments come from, what processes they’ve gone through, and how far they have traveled.

“They can connect with the piece and see what kind of impact these clothes are having on the environment and what kind of journey these garments have been through,” he said.

Akbar added that they plan on introducing digital clothes that clients can wear on zoom or even on Instagram.

He explained that wearing a digital garment does not require manufacturing. As a result, there will be no waste or carbon footprint. “You cannot be more sustainable than doing nothing,” Akbar added.

Tima Abid’s assistant brand manager Sultana Bukhari, told Arab News the haute couture house is working on sourcing its garments from local suppliers in the Kingdom. This is because its main suppliers are located in Europe. “So, to get the fabrics from there to here, there are traces of carbon. So that’s something we need to work on,” she said.

Sultana Bukhari, Tima Abid’s assistant brand manager. (Supplied)

Tima Abid Haute Couture discovered a group of Saudi women who created their fabrics. Currently, they are exploring how to incorporate it and support these women, according to Bukhari.

Each item is produced in the atelier in Jeddah. From start to finish, none of the processes of creating the gown are characterized by fast fashion behavior.

Fashion is one of many industries that negatively impact the environment. The Saudi Professional Fashion Association, a nonprofit organization under the Ministry of Culture, supports and educates brands about sustainable fashion.

Empowering fashion

According to Rana Zumai, vice president of the Saudi Professional Fashion Association, the association empowers and educates the fashion industry about sustainability.

“All fashion associations around the world share the same mission: To empower the fashion community,” she said.

Rana Zumai, vice president of the Saudi Professional Fashion Association. (Supplied)

Zumai explained that small designers who make sustainability a business value receive tremendous support from suppliers and the government.

SPFA’s responsibilities include looking after the community, their challenges and needs, future planning, exhibitions and events related to the fashion industry.

“Our big mission is to empower the community, not only the sector itself,” she added.

Zumai said the fashion community comprises tailors, designers, and factories working in the fashion industry.

Zumai said the association would help the fashion industry in the Kingdom build its brands by supporting and developing local fashion shows. They will also gain international exposure by participating in local and interna- tional events.

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