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Fashion friends Hala Ibrahim and sisters Shereen and Naseem Fekri launched a fun-filled clothing swap day in a bid to tackle retail overconsumption as well as highlight the benefits of second-hand shopping on the environment, writes Mai Al-Khatib-Camille.
A clothing swap is when a group of people get together to exchange apparel and accessories that are no longer being put to use. It’s not only a wardrobe refresher but it also promotes slow fashion and helps reduce the environmental footprint.
Hala, Shereen and Naseem, who are the founders of the eco-conscious ‘The Undressed Company’, loved the clothing concept so much that they collaborated with marine biologist and environmental enthusiast Dr Reem Al Mealla to stage a swap, geared towards Ramadan.
“We buy jalabiyas abundantly and only wear them once a year,” explained Shereen who is a fashion and graphic designer as well as involved in media and communications. “We thought a swap like this would be a fun and sustainable way for women to upgrade their wardrobes without any negative environmental impact!”
Keeping in line with Covid-19 health guidelines, 15 masked females attended the gathering which was held at the Higher Grounds Café in Tubli and swapped 36 pieces.
“We also did this to warm people up to the idea of second-hand shopping,” said Hala, an entrepreneur. “The main problem the planet is facing is overproduction and overconsumption.
“We are consuming resources too fast and discarding them even faster, filling out dumpsites with a shocking number of textile and other kinds of waste.
“While many people donate their old clothes, it is estimated that only 10 per cent of these donations actually reach families in need while the rest is shipped off to dumps, or to third world countries, which causes another economic problem. Therefore, second-hand shopping is a great act of environmentalism.
“You get together, you upgrade your wardrobe with unique finds and you leave no negative impact whatsoever doing so.”
Aside from landfills being full of wasted textiles, environmental experts estimate that it takes about 2,720 litres of water to make one cotton shirt and a whopping 7,000 litres to make one pair of jeans.
Plus, fast fashion clothing is often made from petroleum-based materials including acrylic, nylon, and polyester. These materials can find their way into the waterways and have harmful effects on the people making it, the people wearing it and the environment.
Meanwhile, sustainable fashion utilises materials made from natural or recycled fabrics that require little to no chemical treatment, less energy, less water and no pesticides or fertilisers to grow. Materials like linen and hemp are even biodegradable, resulting in less environmental pollution.
“Sustainable fashion was always important to me,” added Shereen.
“Straight out of university, I couldn’t, in good conscience, keep contributing to an industry that had such a high cost on the planet and its people. I educated myself on how to do it sustainable while diving into media design.
“Life went on from there and my sister, who is in public relations and business development, and I realised how we had to bend over backwards to make sustainable and ethical shopping decisions – and thought this shouldn’t be the case. People need to understand the problem and have access to these brands without thinking it would be an inconvenience to them.”
The trio had such great feedback and are currently brainstorming new ideas to take the initiative further.
For more details, follow @theundressed.co on Instagram