2020, albeit being a rough year, has forced the world into a state of pause, where industries and individuals alike were afforded an opportunity to look inwards and meditate on the effects of humanity’s actions on the environment. Faced with the jarring realities of the consequences resulting from our carbon footprints, industries globally are now striving to lead the way to a more sustainable future. The pioneering force behind this wave of sustainability within the fashion industry in the region is the world’s first sustainable fashion council: The Middle East Fashion Council (MEFC).

Announcing its commitment to sustainable practices within the industry, MEFC is set on implementing the 17 sustainable development goals set by the United Nations. Among the UN goals is the fight for gender equality in the fashion industry, progress towards more responsible consumption and production, and the improvement of the quality of education.

In a report published in 2018 by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), it was calculated that the fashion industry is responsible for almost ten per cent of the world’s carbon emissions. The rise of fast fashion has contributed to the industry’s pollution statistics, with brands releasing a larger number of collections per year – the pieces from which are eventually dumped back into the environment once the trend has passed.

MEFC’s sustainable programme and initiatives tackle the issue at a grassroot level by championing sustainable production processes and reshaping educational programmes to include environmentally friendly practices. The council plans to also implement these ideologies within governments and the regional fashion scene.

The innovators behind a more sustainable MEFC are founder of the council Simon Rubel Lo Gatto and recent members to the board Faris Saeed, founder of The Sustainable City, and Nayla Al Khaja, dubbed the first female director in the UAE.

As part of its agenda, MEFC aims to highlight regional designers that practice sustainability as well as propel local fashion creatives to the international fashion stage, thus implementing diversity in the industry. The non-profit is teaming up with the British Fashion Council, Fédération Française de la Couture, Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, and Council of Fashion Designers of America to propogate this change towards sustainability. As part of its activities this year, MEFC has given its seal of approval and support for the Middle East Fashion Week. Taking place in Spring 2021, the fashion week will see a showcase of more than 20 designers as well as forums on implementing sustainable practices in the fashion industry.

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