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Fashion designer Haya Khalifa is transforming high-end fabrics left over from past creations into shiny, new statement pieces to raise awareness about upcycling and sustainability.
Fashion is known to eternally repeat itself and designers, as well as top brands, are constantly on the lookout for sustainable solutions to reduce their impact on the planet.
Haya hopes to achieve that with her sustainable brand called Swatch of Style in which fabrics are being upcycled into pretty pieces that add a touch of pizazz to any outfit.
“Upcycling is the process of turning waste or excess material into products or material that is of high quality,” said Haya, who is the creative director of fashion brand Naseem Alandalos and founder of Nesma Studio and Swatch of Style. “Fashion designers do not always use all the fabric that they have for various reasons. Sometimes the scraps become waste and out-of-season fabric is stored aimlessly.
“My area of focus is sustainable fashion and I’ve come to notice that we accumulate a lot of pre-consumer waste with no proper ways of recycling them here in Bahrain.
“So I came up with the idea to give these fabrics another life and keep them within the cycle for as longs as possible. These are all quality fabrics that have never been used and are ending up in landfills so why not use them and raise awareness about the matter of fashion waste at the same time.
“My aim is to take in what would have been ‘wasted’ and turn it into statement pieces. I also aim to create pieces that can be utilised and styled in multiple ways. The beauty of the concept of upcycling is that there is no limit to the types of products that we can create.”
The concept of living more sustainably has increased with upcycling taking over fashion runways and also helping residents inject new life into old and tattered items found at home.
Upcycling can vary from giving an existing item a new paint job to creating a completely new look. It could also be reinventing an item so that it is used for a completely different purpose.
In this case, Haya’s first upcycled collection, called Swatch I, features small statement pieces such as headbands, scarves, bandanas, scrunchies and pouches with future plans for expansion. For example, some women have used the scarves to jazz up their wardrobes while others have wrapped them around handbag handles for a pop of colour.
The fabrics, including silk, crepe, jacquard, chiffon, linen, cotton and so on, have been sourced from Haya’s brands. Naseem Alandalos and Nesma Studio are brands that feature luxury Moroccan caftans and ‘slow fashion’ which involves the use of eco-friendly materials, with the goal of preserving crafts and the environment.
Haya, who initially studied architecture in the University of Bahrain before following her passion and pursuing a degree in fashion from the Royal University for Women, said: “All fabrics that are being used are carefully selected to ensure hygiene and quality, and I take all necessary measures to ensure that all materials are clean and usable.
“The reason why I decided to pursue this is because as I continue to learn about how waste from the fashion industry continues to have a huge negative impact on the environment, I am also realising the importance of taking a collective action as a society in order to minimise that impact.”
Some of the other fashion designers and labels around the world that have also jumped on the upcycling band wagon include French designer Marine Serre, European American swimwear label Banana Moon and Swedish American clothing brand, Gant.
Marine’s Maree Noire (Oil Slick) collection featured several upcycled pieces. She used leftover stocks of fabric and gave them a high-end second life.
Banana Moon turned its fabrics into swimwear for its summer 2020 line and Gant presented a capsule collection of shirts upcycled from fabric leftovers from previous collections.
Haya, who hopes her pretty pieces will help spread awareness about the importance of sustainable fashion and turning the concept of upcycling into a habit, is also planning to collaborate with other brands and Bahraini designers to continue her mission.
She is also planning on using her platform @swatchofstyle on Instagram to share sustainable fashion tips from a consumer awareness point of view.