The Swedish Embassy Teamed Up With FabricAID For The Biggest Sustainable Fashion Event In Lebanon

@SwedeninLebanon | @jasminexelle

The Embassy of Sweden in Beirut partnered with Lebanon-based FabricAid to organize the biggest sustainable fashion event in Lebanon.

Moderated by Nadine Wilson Njeim, this event took place on March 26 and tackled two main panels:

  • How to Make Fashion More Sustainable: by ending textile waste, featuring: Rein Neiland (EU Delegation to Lebanon), Jennie Rosén (Swedish Fashion Council), Maya Karkour (Environmental specialist), Evelina Danielson (Fashion Revolution Sweden), and Dr. Najat Saliba (Environmental activist).
  • Reusing Textiles: the participants tackled the “wear and tear” culture, featuring Susanne Sweet (Stockholm School of Economics), Ann-Katherine Zotz (White Label Project), Krystel Khalil (Berytech), Saleem Azzam (Fashion designer), and Sarah Hermez (Creative Space Beirut). Both panels were moderated by Nadine Wilson Njeim.

The first sustainable fashion event in Lebanon was attended by over 200 visitors. They took part in a clothes swap activity, where they exchanged their used clothing items with ones made by FabricAID.

This move was sought to shine the light on FabricAID’s mission to secure an environmentally friendly future, where everyone can afford clothing.

That is by fixing and “renovating” second-hand clothes through collecting, sorting, and distributing while reducing fabric waste.

The event also highlighted the environmental effects of the fashion industry since Sweden’s main priority in Lebanon is engaging in sustainability.

“The fashion industry is currently dominated by a linear structure sometimes described with the words ‘take, make, dispose of’,” the Swedish Embassy explained, noting that global clothes production has doubled since 2000.

According to the Swedish embassy, “we consume about 62 million tons of clothing globally per year, and only 20 percent is reused or recycled. In short, the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world.”

The attendees got to also enjoy the musical stylings of lead singer Serena El Choufi and see upcoming designers, including the launch of FabricAid’s new upcycling brand, SALAD.

Founded in 2017 by Omar Itani, FabricAID started collecting, storing, and redistributing clothes to unprivileged communities in Lebanon at very cheap prices, ranging from $0.3 to a maximum of $2.

It was the beginning of the humanitarian enterprise that went on to develop, providing a more sustainable and high-quality fashion that everyone can afford, while not causing any harm to society and the environment.

In 2019, Omar Itani was honored with the Denis Pietton Award by the French Institute and French Embassy in Lebanon, and the title of the 2019 Young Champion of the Earth for West Asia.

In December 2021, he received the Young Entrepreneur Award at Takreem Awards Ceremony for growing a fully developed enterprise from a seed idea.

In January of this year, FabricAID announced the finalization of its $1.6 million seed funding round through investment by Wamda and AL Fanar; one of the biggest seed rounds for a social enterprise in the region.

FabricAid is now the largest second-hand clothing collector in the MENA region, working to ensure sustainable and conscious options in the clothing industry, while optimizing pre-owned clothes by sorting, upcycling, and reselling them.

Clothes and fabrics are as important to recycle as plastic and glass items, although not much awareness is brought about it, especially in Lebanon and the MENA region.

Massive amounts of fabric and clothes are ending up in landfills, largely contributing to the harm societies are inflicting on the planet.

Around the world, some renowned brands, like H&M and UNIQLO among others, have started in recent years to encourage their clients to deposit their used unwanted clothes of the brand in recycling bins at their stores.

Some even welcome used clothes that are not from their brands as they seek to make the world better.