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Circular Fashion and the Luxury Pre-owned Market in the UAE


Circular Fashion and the Luxury Pre-owned Market in the UAE


In the world... 

Just a couple of decades ago, the words ‘sustainable’, ‘recyclable’ and all their synonyms were fringe ideas, but nowadays most people and most companies have recognized the need for a more mindful approach to consumption. Whether you are new to the sustainable fashion space or a seasoned vet, chances are you have heard someone in the industry talk about circular fashion. But what exactly is circular fashion and why is it the future?

Circular fashion

Fashion currently operates under a linear fashion model designed to maximize the production and consumption of clothing. In a linear economy, we excessively take resources (mostly synthetics made from crude oil), make products, use them briefly, and when we no longer want them, we throw them away and repeat the process. Most garments are not currently made to be recycled, reused, repurposed, or biodegradable, so most textiles end up in landfills or are incinerated.

Obviously, a system like this has a huge impact on the environment, the list of which damage is endless. Motivated by the threat of limited resources and a growing concern among consumers about the environmental impact of their purchases, the fashion industry has started to embrace the idea of circular fashion.

Circular fashion is a holistic design approach rooted in Indigenous ancestry that aims to “design out waste” by reducing the number of natural resources used to make our clothing and diverting products from landfills. In short, circular fashion (a closed-loop system) is making new materials out of old ones.

Shopping in the UAE

So how exactly did the UAE, a part of the world that is known for its unbridled luxury, come to love preloved clothing? Attitudes towards circular fashion are changing everywhere, and since Dubai prides itself on being ahead of the curve, not only have they jumped on board this trend, but there are some surprising new developments that have taken place in the UAE in recent years that have given new meaning to the words ‘previously loved’.

Home to one of the largest malls in the world, Dubai is known for its high spend on luxury and its penchant for all things new and shiny. However, as the world wakes up to the need to be more responsible about our consumption habits, circular fashion is the new buzzword in the Middle East. Entrepreneurs making the most of this new wave include Rae Joseph, a Saudi fashion entrepreneur who travels between Dubai, Riyadh, and New York, started her vintage e-commerce platform 1954 By Rae Joseph in 2018. She recognized the stigma that was attached to wearing and using pre-owned items, and has worked as an advocate to change public opinion. As the stigma wears off, and people wake up to the many benefits of second-hand luxury goods in Dubai, other businesses selling preloved items are enjoying a relatively newfound success.

In the city’s art district, Al Serkal Avenue they cater to a niche set of clients, and one hidden gem worth mentioning is La Suite in Umm Suqeim. Its edit includes sustainable, ethical brands from Paris and preloved designer items. Founded by Alex Bouvy, she saw there was a gap for preloved contemporary fashion, and opened So Chic in 2014, which later evolved into La Suite. The region is catching up with this worldwide booming trend, and we are seeing a huge shift in shopping behaviour and attitudes towards preloved items.

The Gen Z and the brands

As brands look to appeal to Gen-Z clients, you can expect to see more players looking at offering resale services. An age group of clients who have grown up when the climate crisis movement was gaining momentum and digitalization was the new norm, have reached a tipping point. To them, extending the life of fashion items is something to be proud of, and they will share their preloved buys on social media with the hashtags #vintage and #preloved. Millennials might only share such information if they are asked, but Gen-Z are more likely to make a point of telling people that they are wearing pre-loved pieces; for them it is a conversation starter.

Among those first to see the potential of secondary shopping was The Luxury Closet, founded in 2012, and funded by Huda Beauty Investments, an arm of Dubai based cosmetics giant Huda Beauty. One of the many ways in which minds are being changed is through a program run by TLC called Celebrity Closet, where you shop for pieces that once belonged to a celebrity. The celebrity tag added a glam factor to the concept, which was then enhanced by Netflix’s Dubai Bling, which caused a slew of requests to peek into celebrity closets, in the hopes that they would be selling off their unused or once worn designer garms.

The market for preloved fashion in this part of the world could be considered unlimited because of their love for luxury and appreciation for craftsmanship and quality. Businesses see it as a market with huge potential, and many assure us we can expect to see huge growth in the not too distant future.

Your career in fashion industry

If you are considering a career in this rewarding area of the fashion industry, a solid education could certainly give you a strong head start. At Istituto Marangoni Dubai we offer several courses that cover a variety of subjects, and with varying levels of duration, which aim to provide you with the expertise and support to help hone your skills and build a strong foundation for a career in the Fashion Industry. For more information about the school and the short course, please click on the links below:

Choosing a course might seem link a daunting task, which is why our experts are on hand to answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to get in touch if you require further information or guidance.


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