Eco-friendly Indian store makes clothes only after ordered and paid for

Plus, other sustainable boutique brands leading the way on sustainability

At Styched Collective, clothes are made to order and can be customised, such as the Paradise dress; Dh272. Photo: Styched Collective
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On June 1, Dubai took the historic step of banning the sale of plastic shopping bags. As consumers, it is time to make changes to our own behaviour and contribute towards better sustainability across the emirate

Thankfully, many switches such as swapping a plastic bag for a reusable tote are simple, especially given the wealth of regional companies that bring eco-friendly options to our doorstep. From skincare products minus nasty chemicals and vegan trainers, to notebooks embedded with plant seeds, there are plenty of clever ideas around, well deserving of our support.

Small changes multiplied across many categories can make a huge impact, so why not think about spending your hard-earned cash with companies that are working towards a brighter future. On World Environment Day, here are some options.

Styched Collective

Founded in India in 2019 as a direct-to-consumer fashion label, Styched Collective brings together several brands. What makes it different to other platforms is that, unlike traditional online or physical stores, it holds no inventory, has no warehouses and has zero wastage thanks to its on-demand business model. Rather than relying on the present system of making clothes in advance in the hope that everything will all be sold (with whatever that does not destined for landfill), at Styched, clothes are not manufactured until ordered and paid for.

With this clever, responsive production-on-demand system, it has been able to move away from factories – with their minimum orders and rigid timetables – to instead use freelance tailors, who can work from the comfort of their home. Not only does this mean clothes can be made whenever needed, but it also allows more women to join the online workforce.

It even has a bespoke service, where elements such as sleeve type, skirt length, neckline and pockets can be determined by the customer.

The Green Ecostore

With plastic bags now off the agenda, The Green Ecostore is a great place to stock up on reusable shopping bags. Founded in 2009 to bring environmentally conscious products to the UAE, it offers all manner of useful items for everyday and around the home use, including reusable water bottles, mesh produce bags to carry to the supermarket and beeswax wraps to replace plastic cling film.

It also stocks Swedish sponge clothes made of plant cellulose, and recycled paper notebooks, some of which are embedded with the aforementioned plants seeds, meaning that once its useful life is over, is can be planted and flowers will burst forth.

Up-Fuse

Launched in 2013 in Cairo, Up-Fuse is based on the motto “nothing is ever wasted”.

From hand-stitched espadrilles with a sole made from old car tyres, to laptop bags made from compressed plastic bags, this is an inventive company that gives new life to discarded waste. Not only does this help reduce pollution and the eyesore of waste, but it also helps preserve natural resources.

Since starting, the company has repurposed more than 1.3 million plastic bags, 800,000 plastic bottles and 800 car tyres, turning them into bags, wallets, backpacks and more. With a repair service also part of its methodology, Up-Fuse also runs workshops to help others on their journey to better sustainability.

La Brocante

Situated in a warehouse in Al Quoz Dubai, La Brocante looks uninspiring from the outside, but step through the doors and you'll find a treasure trove of second-hand furniture, posters, lighting and artwork. All pre-loved, the designs on sale not only guarantee to bring a touch of personality to your home, but also give a second life to the pieces.

To help prolong the lifespan of goods further, it also has a repair service, as well as offering pieces for short-term rent. With ever-changing stock, the home-grown store stays committed to its mantra of “dedicated to sustainability one piece at a time”.

The Giving Movement

One of the UAE's most successful start-up stories, The Giving Movement launched during the pandemic to bring activewear made from upcycled plastic waste (plus 100 per cent organic cotton) to the Middle East. Each garment is made in the UAE to ensure workers have good working conditions and proper pay, while a flat Dh15 ($4) charity donation is built into the price of every item.

Initially the money benefitted Harmony House and Dubai Cares, but since October last year, all donations have been diverted to help with the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza, through Dubai Cares and its partners on the ground. About $1 million has been donated in eight months, and the brand has raised more than Dh26 million for charity since launching.

Nature Hedonist

With its line of 100 per cent linen, Nature Hedonist and its stylish clothing boast of being “proudly designed in the UAE, crafted in Kazakhstan”.

An ideal material for hot climes, linen not only dries much faster than cotton, but is also much more hard-wearing and requires a fraction of the water to grow. Made into clothes that are loose-fit and lean towards modestwear, Nature Hedonist pieces are made to be layered.

On offer are box-cut jackets, long kimono-style coats and tapered cut trousers. In tones including terracotta, oatmeal, white and navy blue, this brand is about fluid, breezy style.

Thaely

Founded by Ashay Bhave while still at collage, Thaely is a vegan trainer and footwear company. Handmade in small batches of 1,000 to 2,000 per style, each shoe is made from a leather alternative that uses 10 recycled plastic bags and 12 recycled plastic bottles per shoe.

The upper part of each shoe uses ThaelyTex, a leather-type material invented by founder Bhave, and the sole is made from recycled rubber. Shoelaces are made from recycled plastic bottles, and even the glue used to bind the shoe and the detergents used to clean the reclaimed plastic before processing are 100 per cent vegan, earning the company a Peta vegan certification and its Best Sneaker award in 2021.

New styles include the Reflex Slide, with an upper made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles and insoles made from recycled castor bean oil waste. Recycled helmet straps act as the fasteners, while the Bloom EVA sole incorporates Rise by Bloom, an algae-blended resin, for extra comfort.

Thrift For Good

Founded in February 2020, Thrift for Good is a second-hand store that channels all of its profit to Gulf for Good – the organisation that supports vulnerable children in Palestine, Lebanon, Nepal, the Philippines and Malawi.

Aware that clothes donated to charities in good faith too often end up in vast mountains of waste around the world, Thrift for Good works to ensure nothing is wasted.

It processes all donations, diverting the best examples to its two stores in Dubai, on Palm Jumeirah and in Times Square, to offer high-quality shoes, bags, accessories and clothes at reasonable prices. Those pieces not deemed suitable for stores are sold off for lower prices at the Dubai Flea Market. Anything that fails to make that grade is not thrown away, but rather given to up-cyclers, or carpet and furniture makers in India.

This strict system ensures there is no waste created and that all pieces get a second life. Thrift for Good raises about Dh150,000 per month, and to date it has rehomed 250,000 items, while raising close to Dh3 million for children's charities. It also runs classes and workshops on how to repair your own clothes.

Updated: June 05, 2024, 6:04 AM