Arabian eco-fashion show asks: how green is your abaya?

bodyamr eco hijab

Designers from around the world will parade their latest collections in Abu Dhabi’s first-ever Eco Fashion Show, a five-day event featuring couture-with-a-conscience this April.  Designed to raise awareness of green practices nationwide, it’s part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Green Festival 2014,  and an offshoot of Berlin-Dubai Designer Exchange 2013, conducted in partnership with the Goethe-Institute Gulf Region.

Linking product lines to the environment is a clever differentiator; hug a tree or two and your frocks immediately stand out in the world’s uber-competitive $400 billion-dollar rag trade. (We’ll take forward strides in sustainability regardless of how they’re dressed up!)

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Abaya (the long, black cloak) and hijab (headscarf) are usually made out of rayon, polyester, or nylon. Nasty traps for heat and moisture, these fibers also fall fairly low on the sustainability pyramid.

Pricier pure silk versions are popular in the Gulf states, but often incorporate toxic dyes, synthetic crystals or plastic beads – hardly green embellishments. What’s an eco-Muslimah to do?

Eco-friendly abaya

Last year’s Dubai Designer Exchange challenged Emirati and German designers to create eco-friendly garments; collaboration was encouraged, as was use of recycled and sustainable materials.

This year’s Abu Dhabi event is open to designers across the Middle East and beyond.  UAE’s Dantella Designs, Omani designer Amr Ali’s UK-based Body AMR (see lead image) are slated to participate, as will Dubai-based Future Fashion who will present their Reuse jeans, which are made from 80% recycled fabric.

“Sustainability is the way forward for the fashion industry, and I think the UAE, the hub of fashion in the Middle East, is the best place to introduce such a concept to the Middle Eastern customers,” said Ayesha Siddequa, Future Fashion’s creative director.


Abu Dhabi Mall, the host of the April show, hopes to spur social change through sustainably produced fashion. “Sustainability is a key to the future of green practices across all industries, and the UAE Green Festival is a strong demonstration of the UAE’s commitment to this trend,” said Magnus Roxner, Abu Dhabi Mall manager.

The Eco Fashion Show, which features a catwalk made of green building materials, runs from April 8-12. Eco-couture for men and children will also be displayed.

Top and bottom images from Body AMR; middle image from Eluxe Magazine

About Laurie Balbo

At university, she was annoyed that her architecture degree was called a Bachelor of Environmental Design. As a working architect, she was annoyed that projects weren’t designed with more environmental consideration.She’s a usually-annoyed architect and sustainability specialist who hopes that venting her frustrations will make a positive environmental difference. Her husband just hopes it makes her less annoyed. Born in the United States, Laurie has managed design and managed construction of ports and airports in New York, Dublin and now Amman. She blogs on knitting and other arcane topics at www.fibermeister.comLaurie can be reached at [email protected]

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