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Meet the Switchers: Sustainable fashion

Discover the latest trends in sustainable fashion in the Mediterranean

What can we do to make fashion more sustainable?

Clothing is one of the major consumption areas in the Mediterranean countries. Fashion industry is also one of the leading economic sectors. Hence, clothing and fashion is a priority area for improving sustainability performance of products and services. In addition, it includes a diverse range of eco and social innovative solutions for making an impact for sustainable living.
The first half of the sessions will include Pecha Kucha style presentations of stories of sustainable fashion and clothing Switchers. The second half will include a well facilitated discussion on understanding the needs and challenges of the Switchers and elaborating on possible responses (from the perspective of policy, finance, skills, networks and other ecosystem factors).

What did we aim to?

The “Meet the Switchers? session on sustainable fashion is co-hosted by Sonia Ruiz from Noima and Silvia Calvo from Associació Moda Sostenible de Barcelona. In this session, Switchers had the opportunity to showcase their projects and stories in the sustainable fashion field so to attract funders and investors around them.

The session is designed so that the Switchers have the opportunity to (1) explain their project to the audience and their needs/challenges, and then to (2) receive feedback from the audience as well as questions to clarify certain aspects of each project. Doing so, not only they gain valuable insight from a variety of people, but also are able to deepen aspects that they hadn’t had the time to explore in their short presentation.



New sustainable clothing initiatives from the Mediterrranean

The session was introduced by Silvia Calvo from Associació Moda Sostenible de Barcelona, who made some interesting remarks on the current trends in the fashion industry.

She highlighted that consumers’ behaviour is changing in the way fashion is consumed, recalling namely the sharing practices in fashion, and the transparency consumers are asking for. She also stressed that resources efficiency is also a key issue in the industry, especially in a take/make/dispose paradigm and that there is an urgent need to switch from linear to circular economy. She notes however that fashion is difficult industry to change.

The Switchers that presented their work in the sustainable fashion were:

  • Asli Guvenç (from Asli’s Closet which is an online marketplace for second hand clothes in Turkey)
  • Bijan Kafi (from Sekem, a holding of companies involved in biodynamic agriculture which develops among other products organic textile in Egypt)
  • Marc Metni (from Waste which designs and crafts urban and classic bags, accessories, and furniture from sustainable and reused materials )
  • Patrick El Zoghi (from VEA which produces fashion products from recycled rubber in Lebanon)
  • Yara Yassin and Rania Rafie (from Up Fuse which is a company working with the Zabaleen in Egypt to recycle plastic waste by creating fashion designs)
  • Jorge Garcia Barrasa and Marta Calvo  (from Footwear Technology Centre in La Rioja, Spain, which provides technology solutions to footwear brands to improve their competitiveness, including ecodesign)
  • Ghitta Laskrouif (a designer from Morocco who reinvents clothes, by reusing/upcycling fabrics or materials and creating handmade products with high aesthetic that reduce the need to consume.)
  • Tamar Shalem ( a slow fashion designer from Israel who makes high quality handmade shoes with the objective people feel good and have a long term use item made with love)
  • Nadia Dajani ( from Al-Bareeq Jewellery in Jordan which is ethical jewellery brand with the aim of employing women from underprivileged areas)
  • Fiona Capdevila (from Del Través in Spain which is a brand of fashion items designed from used clothes)








What are the main challenges for Fashion Switchers?

From the different presentations, it was clear that the Switchers had diverse motivations for setting up their businesses, from animal care to protection of the environment and protection of fragile populations. However, each business resulted in a sustainable added value to fashion while developing mechanisms in line with the trends observed by Silvia Calvo, from sharing practices to resource efficiency.  

Almost every fashion switcher has noted challenges in relation to accessing to finance and facing the relatively high costs of production compared to business as usual fashion companies. Another identified challenge was related to finding a critical mass of consumers willing to buy the product to scale up the business model and thrive on the market. However, they all appreciated the opportunity that SwitchMed connect provides to exchange on this topic and find ways to address these challenges  



The Asli’s Closet market place case from Turkey


The Tamar Shalem case from Israel




Let's continue the discussion

You can join and contribute the discussion on Sustainable Fashion in the session community here. You can also download the presentations here. In that community, we encourage you to post your reflections, experiences and questions. Keep engaging and shaping the content of SwitchMed Connect 2016.



Waste, by Marc Metni from Lebanon


"The initiative is very interesting because it is an excellent opportunity to have direct contact with stakeholders working in the field of sustainable fashion. It is also very inspiring, and it helps to get new ideas".
Marta Calvo, Footwear Technology Centre La Rioja